Ashlin Owen + John Adkins


Photographer: Amy Allen Photography Videographer: Twenty-One Films Wedding Planner: Vision Events Wedding & Event Planning

Ashlin and John met through a dating app. After their first date, John suggested they go late-night shopping at Target — it was too late for Ashlin, but, from the suggestion, she knew he was special. A year later, John took Ashlin to Rey’s Restaurant in Cary to celebrate their dating anniversary, and he proposed at dessert. Ashlin asked, “Is this real?” several times before saying yes.

After recovering from the surprise, Ashlin and John chose the historic Weymouth House as their wedding venue. The bride’s parents live in Pinehurst, and her mom suggested the location. “Oh Happy Day” was the theme of the wedding. A choir sang the song after the ceremony, and the “Oh Happy Daze” custom cocktail was a hit. For a particularly memorable touch, the bride’s mother had an artist paint the duo under the ceremonial arbor during the reception.

Ceremony & Reception: Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities | Dress: Lana Addison Bridal | Shoes: Kate Whitcomb | Groomsmen: Jos A Bank | Flowers: Jack Hadden Floral & Event Design | Cake: C Cups Cupcakery | Catering: Ashten’s | Live Painter: Gabbi Cook | Invitations: Eloise Trading Company | Transportation: Kirk Tours & Limousine

Jacquelyn + Spencer


Photographer: By Colette Photo Videographer: Anthem Cry Weddings, Daniel Hamby

Spencer proposed to Jackie after they summited Algonquin Peak in the Adirondacks. With the proposal out of the way, the couple planned an October wedding in the Sandhills. They married at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, and the church staff streamed the wedding for family and friends who were unable to attend.

After the ceremony, the party moved to the reception at the beautiful, Tudor-style Duncraig Manor and Gardens. The wedding’s inspiration was Hollywood glam. Maple syrup produced and bottled by the bride’s parents’ maple syrup farm in upstate New York was an intimate touch, and the s’mores pit was a guest favorite. The bride and groom ended the night by jumping into the pool to cool off — they highly recommend it.

Ceremony: St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church | Reception: Duncraig Manor and Gardens | Dress: Simone Carvalli from Lucy’s Bridal, Vass | Shoes: Badgley Mischka Hair & Makeup: Wendy Rae Fiallo, Fayetteville | Nails: Karma Spa Lounge & Beauty Bar | Bridesmaids: Azazie | Groomsmen: The Black Tux | Flowers: Caroline Naysmith, Duncraig Manor & Cardon Consulting | Cake: Marci’s Cakes and Bakes | Drink Service: Reverie Cocktails

Story of a House

A Perfect Unmatch

Historic cottage exudes comfort, harmony

By Deborah Salomon   •   Photographs by John Gessner

Just because “big” and “beautiful” start with the same letter doesn’t signify a relationship. What could be prettier than a modest house filled — not crowded — with carefully chosen objects, where nothing matches but everything fits?

Should the house and contents also reflect its occupant, bravo.

Virginia Gallagher teaches yoga. She lives yoga. Her artifacts and décor reflect its tenets and practices. Crystals cover many surfaces. She speaks of chakras, the body’s seven energy centers. Even the uninitiateds absorb the calm.

That calm begins on the front walkway, composed of stepping stones, rimmed with perennials, then weed-free grass, where a small sign announces the Enchanted Castle. The clapboards are painted a green south of avocado. Celery, maybe? The front porch ceiling is sky blue, considered a good omen. Hanging from it, a white woven rope hammock from Mexico, where Virginia led an instructors’ retreat. “I love the Mayan culture, the spirituality,” she says.

The foliage attracts birds, which Virginia identifies with a guide kept nearby. Ancient trees and vines shelter the meditation garden from summer’s heat. Gingerbread rims the roof lines of a dwelling built in 1924, according to a brick set into the vestibule floor . . . but by whom? Mother Goose? Lewis Carroll? J.R.R. Tolkien?

Virginia — an adult aficionado of Alice’s wonderland — doesn’t know. Most likely a shopkeeper who appreciated walking to Broad Street as much as Gallagher likes walking to Hot Asana, her teaching studio. However, beware of bricks bearing dates; documents provided by the Moore County Historical Association move construction back to 1895, commissioned by C.T. Patch of Peacham, Vermont, a partner at downtown business Patch & Robinson. Another 20 years would pass before snowbirds and townies of substance hired architects to design fancier cottages uphill from the train tracks.

Then, as now, people kept time by the trains, which bother Virginia not at all. “The sound is comforting,” she says.

Gallagher’s décor, too, answers to “comfortable.” A pair of upholstered chairs fill her sitting room, with bay window. Everything is child-friendly. Virginia has six. Kevin, a son killed in a tragic accident, is memorialized throughout the house. The others know her door is open — and often take advantage of a “boys’ suite” in the converted attic with slanted ceilings: two bedrooms, a bathroom, a sitting room with TV. Simple. Practical. Comfortable.

This cottage represents Gallagher’s second lifestyle — the first being traditional wife and mother — living in a house fronted by tall pillars in a fashionable neighborhood. Once single, she discovered yoga through a friend: “I was overweight and unhealthy. I went to yoga to get skinny and flexible. After the first class I thought ‘weird,’ and that I’d never do it again.”

That was 2007. Weight loss attributed to the lifestyle captured her mind and body. By 2009 she had become an instructor. In 2010 Virginia opened Hot Asana adjacent to the Sunrise Theater, a short walk away from home. It’s only natural that her house includes a small yoga room where she Zoomed classes during the virus shutdown.


A Southern Pines native and enthusiastic downtowner, Gallagher rented the Enchanted Castle for two years before deciding to buy in 2012. Other possibilities didn’t come with “a story.” Neither did this one so, relying on the presence of previous residents, she made one up.

“I get energy from them,” she says.

Equally gratifying: “This is the first house I ever purchased by myself, with money earned by my own hands and skills.”

Ownership allowed adaptations, not always in the expected places.

“I love a big bathtub,” which wasn’t possible given the long, narrow bathroom that had been added onto her front-facing bedroom. Instead, she installed a hot tub in the fenced backyard. Next, multi-level decks with a trellis-covered dining table, sectional sofas, a swinging bed, gardens with a bubbling fountain shaded by an ancient pin oak, and statue of Kwan Yin, Buddhist goddess of peace and harmony.

“It’s just heaven out here,” Virginia says of her al fresco year-round living space.


No single word, not even eclectic, describes the interior, with a floorplan that appears to have been rearranged and enlarged, helter-skelter, by previous owners. Opposite the small sitting room is a master bedroom, filled almost entirely by a king-sized bed with elaborate headboard, that looks out onto the front porch. “So I could see how late the kids came home,” Gallagher says. A crystal mini-chandelier hangs over the bed. Her dresser is painted metallic silver, the walls yet another shade of green.

Floors are original pine, stained dark, partially covered by colorful crewel rugs. Throughout, Virginia strives for a feminine presence, something missing in her previous homes.

Beyond the sitting room, walls appear to have been rearranged to create a dining room, large for a cottage of its era. The table, made of distressed wood slats, is surrounded by a variety of seating: bench, upholstered and other chairs. Over it hangs a light fixture built from the top third of an enormous glass water jug hanging by cords emerging from the narrow neck. A contemporary glass china cupboard displays pottery in Virginia’s favorite turquoise. What’s the good of having pretty things if you can’t see them, she explains.

An elongated kitchen attached by a previous owner appears to stretch into tree branches visible through windows on three sides. Even kitchen colors — brown and an earthy green — suggest bark, moss and leaves, rather than white-and-granite glamour. Instead of an island, a long worktable down the center holds glass jars filled with beans and grains and seasonings common to a healthy lifestyle cuisine.

Art is what you make of it. Or what it makes of you. For Virginia, this means framed quotations from favorite books. An enlarged photograph taken in Alaska of horses frolicking through the snow, printed on canvas to resemble a painting, is vaguely mystical — a gift from a friend. A barn quilt pattern hangs outside, in Kevin’s memory. Family members have tattoos in the same design.

Completing the scene are a friendly Toto-dog named Baxter and Luna, a mostly blind marmalade cat.

The template for this serene environment is not completely rooted in yoga. Gallagher grew up in her grandparents’ house in Hamlet, where her grandfather owned the local Coca-Cola plant. “I identify with my grandmother, and their home,” she says. “It had lots of nooks and crannies. I was allowed to touch things. The way it felt was magical.

“I was loved in that home.”

These experiences, past and present, influence her attitudes as well as her living space. “What I learned about yoga is that it helps you feel more comfortable in your body. And home — more comfortable than refined — is a practice of yoga.”  PS

Eternally Fall

A football odyssey for a father and his sons

By Charles Marshall     Photographs by Joshua Stedman


up in North Carolina, my life unfolded along a well-worn path of I-85 between Atlanta and Washington, D.C. In the sporting world, this is ACC territory, with the possible exception of exit 106, the gateway to Athens. For the most part, the college towns of the SEC and the Big 10 remained remote outposts in lands beyond the exits I knew so well. Some had strange sounding names like Tuscaloosa, or stadiums menacingly referred to as The Swamp.

One Saturday in November 2009, the sights and sounds of Georgia battling Auburn on TV were juxtaposed with my elementary school-age kids — Foster was 7 and Drake was 5 — slamming doors, tearing apart train tracks and bouncing balls. I thought about the decade I had before the oldest would leave for college, and I began recalling the allure of the old-school car trips of my youth. AM radio, hotel pools, breakfast buffets, souvenir T-shirts to show off back at school, and the long unbroken spells of time where, if you’re lucky, kids begin to talk to you about things that really mattered.

Once I began mapping routes to the meccas of SEC and Big 10 football, I realized most were less than a full day’s drive away. If I could grab an unsweetened tea by 6 a.m., my boys and I could transport ourselves into the scenes I’d spent years watching from my den. So, we would go. Ten years, 10 stadiums, 10 games. The only rule was that we had to drive.

Year One: Alabama 23, Ole Miss 10

I met my friend Britton Stutts at a summer camp near Brevard, North Carolina, when we were both 14. He was from Birmingham, Alabama, and I was from Charlotte, North Carolina. We kept in touch over the years. We were even in each other’s weddings. He went to college at the University of Alabama. I went to UNC-Chapel Hill. Britton was the obvious person to jump-start our tour.

His parents decked out my boys in ’Bama gear, and we rode to Tuscaloosa together for the 9 p.m. kickoff. After a buffet meal at a fraternity that had the feel of being at someone else’s family reunion, we strolled through the campus and its manicured quads on a clear, cool October evening before settling into our seats in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Myself, Foster, Drake and 100,000 other people. Only two of our seats were together, so the three of us crammed into them. After the national anthem, during the fevered anticipation of kickoff, I knelt in front of my boys and shouted to them over the crowd that we were going to do this every year for the next 10 years. They stared at me and nodded.

Alabama’s Greg McElroy threw two touchdown passes. The games were on.

Year Two: Florida 33, Tennessee 23

Foster loved Tim Tebow, so Florida was an easy next choice. Without a host family like we had at Alabama, we would be making it up as we went along. Because the night before a game, hotels in college towns cost more than a hip replacement, we stayed in Jacksonville and drove into Gainesville in the morning — without GPS or a clue. We paid $30 to park in the front yard of an older woman’s single-story white house. She took our money seated in a lawn chair and, in an act of kindness, let us use the bathroom inside her home.

We went off hunting and pecking our way through Florida’s sprawling campus, embarking on what would become a long-suffering tradition of watching Drake agonize over what fan gear he would purchase. After sorting through racks and racks of gear at several stores, an orange T-shirt from a stadium vendor that simply said “Gators” made his day.

It was mid-September, hot and muggy for the late afternoon, nationally televised game. We watched the sun go down in the fourth quarter over the corner of the orange-colored stadium that said “WELCOME TO THE SWAMP,” and suddenly being there in person seemed surreal.

Year Three: Georgia 48, Vanderbilt 3

On a spin through Atlanta the night before the game, we stopped at The Varsity, a legendary hot dog joint, and the World of Coke, the museum of the global cola icon, and went to the Midtown Music Festival, where we saw the Avett Brothers and Foo Fighters with 50,000 other people.

Our seats for the September evening game “between the hedges” in Sanford Stadium in Athens were behind a colorful array of fraternity kids with an equally colorful vocabulary. A bigger impression was the cheering for Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, two North Carolina high school standouts who played running back for Georgia. Foster wondered aloud why UNC didn’t land them but the reality began to sink in — in 2012, this was a bigger stage. Vanderbilt was supposed to make the game competitive, but they failed miserably.

We left at halftime only to find the car’s battery dead — the biggest disaster of our vagabond decade. It took a good two hours to solve the issue as my boys watched me alternate between problem-solving, frustration and fury. Once we were on the road we drove as far as Commerce, Georgia, where we rented a hotel room and watched the end of the Florida State-Clemson game on television while an oversized roach crawled across the ceiling.

Year Four: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 24

On the way into Columbus we listened to a local sports talk radio station deconstructing in mouth-watering detail how to eat a particular corned beef and pastrami sandwich from a particular downtown deli. Sadly, it was closed by the time we rolled into town, and we had to settle for chicken wings and cornhole in a brewpub across the street from our hotel.

In the SEC, tailgaters often bring elaborate spreads of pre-cooked food and avoid firing up charcoal on 100-degree days in a crowded asphalt parking lot — a rookie move that once betrayed my ACC roots. The Big Ten, on the other hand, is where meat goes to get burned. As we walked through the Ohio State campus on a glorious Saturday morning, the tailgaters were already busy. One was serving ribs and brats hot off the grill by 9 a.m. The heavenly odor was everywhere, in parking lots, in grass lots, and floating in the spaces in between. The tailgating particularly piqued the interest of my son, Foster, leading to our own charcoal-cooking experiments at home testing an array of homemade sauces and rubs on friends and neighbors.

Urban Meyer was in his second season coaching Ohio State and had yet to lose a game. Among the 105,000 or so fans in “the Horseshoe” for the 8 p.m. kickoff was a guy seated right behind us who went on and on about how Meyer couldn’t hold a candle to Jim Tressell as a coach because Meyer “hadn’t scheduled anybody any good.” It was a reminder of the impossibility of coaching college football. You’re undefeated and you’re still a bum.

Year Five: Oklahoma 45, West Virginia 33

“But have you seen a game in Morgantown?”

I’d heard about the beer, the moonshine and the burning couches. So why not take your kids to see what the fuss is all about? If Morgantown seemed deserted before the 7:30 p.m. game, it was only because everyone was in the parking lot of Mountaineer Stadium. We found a tailgate of a friend of a friend of a friend — who wasn’t even there — and I was immediately offered beer and moonshine out of a Mason jar. We were surrounded by friendly strangers sipping from similar jars and spewing profanities about Pitt. “Dad,” one of my sons said to me quietly, “they aren’t even playing Pitt today.”

The game was as boisterous and fun as I’d imagined. Our seats were on the end of an aisle across from the Oklahoma band. The band would play Boomer Sooner right up to the snap of the ball, but the West Virginia fans angrily accused the band director of playing past the snap. There was a fight brewing and the police were summoned but, overall, the atmosphere was exhilarating — and the fans were warm and hospitable toward my boys throughout the game.

Oklahoma was ranked second in the country, and the expectations for an upset were off the rails. On the way into town, the local sports radio station was inviting callers to predict the outcome of the game by imagining what the headline in the newspaper would be the next day. The forecasts were creative, funny, irreverent, and wrong. West Virginia put up tons of points, but Oklahoma put up more.

On the way out of town, my boys announced that since we had made it through a West Virginia game “we could probably handle LSU.”

Year Six: Arkansas 24, Tennessee 20

My sons and I thought we were geniuses for picking this game. Both teams had new coaches and were supposedly “on the rise,” and this was to be the year for each. Their favorable schedules made it seem possible both could come into this early October game unbeaten, making an ESPN Game Day visit to Knoxville feasible. But here was Tennessee at 2-2 and Arkansas at 1-3. It rained and rained and rained but we marched ahead — to Calhoun’s On the River for amazing ribs, chicken, potatoes and dessert; past the Vol Navy; through campus and “accidentally” through the off-limits practice facilities. (They thought we were boosters on an exclusive tour.) We even stood outside to watch the Vol Walk in a downpour. So, it became an important game anyway.

The rain let up for the 7 p.m. kickoff and the teams fought until the last set of downs. The visitor wins.

Year Seven: Penn State 24, Ohio State 21

We invited my father as well as my brother and his two boys to join us. We toured the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg National Military Park the day before the game. Three generations of our family learned about the heroism of the 20th Maine on Little Round Top, walked in the footsteps of Pickett’s Charge, and solemnly listened as the tour guide detailed the mind-blowing carnage on both sides.

The drive from Gettysburg to State College is a seat-burner. After the farms come long stretches of forest, mountains and hairpin turns. Beaver Stadium is a mammoth structure even when judged against the other massive stadiums we had already visited. It reminds you of a giant erector set. We got swept up in the pre-game “whiteout” hysteria where the entire stadium dresses in white. We purchased some last-minute gear and thought it smart to settle into our seats an hour early for the late October game. Wrong. It was in the low 40s with 20-mile-per-hour winds and rain destined to turn to sleet. We were frigid.

The game, though, was electric. It proved to be a breakout for both quarterback Trace McSorely and running back Saquon Barkley. By halftime we had been in our seats almost three hours, the sleet was coming down hard, and the hot chocolate had run out. When I suggested we consider watching the second half from the hotel, my dad was willing to brave the elements but my son, Drake, dressed only in a sweatshirt, eagerly led the way out. Ninety minutes later we were in a temperature-controlled hotel room in Altoona watching Penn State pull off the upset of the year.

As the fans stormed the field, my son — the same one who had blazed our trail out — was in full denial, blaming the rest of us for leaving and promising he would have stormed the field, too.

Year Eight: Michigan State 14, Michigan 10

It’s a long way to Ann Arbor, but during the last hour of our drive we learned the Pistons were playing a preseason game against Atlanta in Detroit. While my boys bought tickets online, I navigated the downtown parking. Within minutes we were inside the arena enjoying footlong hot dogs, nachos and some impromptu NBA basketball.

On campus the next day, we stumbled onto a midday fraternity party in full swing. Boozy undergrads were taking a sledgehammer to an old car that was painted in Spartan colors and logos. When a drunken Michigan State fan tried to intervene and stop the destruction, a fight broke out and spilled into the street. In the midst of this early afternoon chaos and tomfoolery, Drake observed, “I thought it was hard to get into Michigan.” I couldn’t think of an answer that would have made any sense in that moment.

The Big House was everything that has been said about it. That evening 100,000 fans sat in a single bowl with the intimate feel of a giant high school football game. The game quickly retreated into a defensive struggle that ended in an unseasonably warm October downpour during the fourth quarter.

The drive home to Raleigh was long and somewhere in southwest Virginia, we stopped at a Shoney’s breakfast bar. The waitress brought me a note from an anonymous customer — who had already left — thanking me for spending time with my boys and paying for our breakfasts. My boys were awed by the charity, humility and anonymity of the act. It spoke more to them than a thousand words from me.

Year Nine: LSU 22, Auburn 21

This was our penultimate year and Foster was a junior in high school, so we were touring colleges. My wife, Fraley, and our daughter, Sadler, wanted to come along for this one. We fled Hurricane Florence in North Carolina and arrived in Auburn for what my wife still refers to as the hottest day she’s ever endured. September. Alabama. 93 degrees. A 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

By this point, my sons were tailgate aficionados. Unimpressed by the companies that do everything for you, they gave high marks to the families slogging their own gear and setting up their own space. This was a game played before Joe Burrow was Joe Burrow, but I vividly remember him throwing the ball downfield several times on LSU’s first possession. My sons had fantastic lower bowl seats while my wife and daughter and I were five rows from the top of the second level. The young alumnus next to my wife celebrated each successful play with a swallow of bourbon and repeatedly offered her a swig — which she declined. Eventually he had to be escorted out by friends. A few minutes after that LSU escorted Auburn out with a walk-off field goal to win.

As night began to fall, we passed a woman packing her family’s tailgating gear into an SUV by herself. Her crew had undoubtedly spent all week planning the food, the drinks and the decorations, cooked all day and night on Friday and got up early to pack the car, only to spend the entire day setting up, hosting, cleaning, breaking down, and now loading up for the drive home. Maybe those companies aren’t so bad after all.

Year Ten: LSU 58, Ole Miss 37

Foster is a high school senior now, so this was his year to pick the game. He chose Oxford, Mississippi, and we invited two of his closest friends plus their dads and younger brothers. We had Friday lunch on the Square, caught a basketball game on campus Friday night, and walked through The Grove — the tailgate area in the center of campus — where SEC Game Day was setting up shop.

The next morning the dads fixed breakfast and sent the boys on foot to see Game Day live while we watched it on television. By lunch The Grove was wall-to-wall tents decked out with rugs, televisions, and button-down shirts with blazers. We knew some North Carolina friends hosting a large tailgate with their Memphis relatives and used that as a sort of headquarters.

Around 4 p.m., I made up an excuse to march my boys to the stadium three hours early. When we got there, we were greeted with pre-game access lanyards and made our way down to the field as guests. We walked around both sidelines taking in the sights and sounds of warm-ups as the atmosphere began to build. Recruits were ushered onto the field, and then the players began coming out in full game gear. 

As the sun began to set, I tried not to ruin the moment with a mistimed life lesson. When the game started, we were back up in our seats. At one point Drake went to the restroom, still wearing his field pass. A fan mistook him for a recruit, and he couldn’t have been happier to tell the rest of us. When I suggested that it would be hard to mistake an undersized high-school sophomore soccer player for an SEC football recruit, he clarified that the fan “thought I was a kicker.” This was a game when Joe Burrow had become Joe Burrow, and it was like watching an NFL team.

The next day we began a 13-hour drive with the best doughnuts I’ve ever eaten on one of the best mornings I’ve ever had.


we left home for that final game, I asked my boys if they remembered my commitment to them in Bryant-Denny Stadium that we would go to a different game every year for 10 straight years. They both remembered thinking that I was serious but that I was unlikely to make good on my plan. It was a fair point — I have always been stronger on the idea side and weaker on the execution.

That winter, my wife and I returned to Tuscaloosa with Foster for a final college visit. It was sunny, in the mid-60s, and we saw Alabama’s basketball team beat a ranked LSU-team in the final minutes. After a lively dinner at Taco Mama’s and another evening stroll through the campus, Alabama was his final answer.

I wondered whether these annual adventures shaped his college search more than I imagined or intended. Did they make big schools seem less intimidating? Was there something about the first trip to Alabama that held a special foothold in his memory? My son confesses that he doesn’t really know, and in the end, it doesn’t really matter. What matters are the memories that we made together — late nights in the tiny hotel pools, the glories of a breakfast bar, listening to a high school football game on the radio, and the long, unbroken stretches of time where, when I was lucky, my boys began to talk about things that really mattered.  PS

Charles Marshall is a lawyer who lived in Southern Pines with his family during the pandemic so that his son and daughter could attend The O’Neal School. He still has the sand in his shoes.

Tea Leaf Astrologer

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

When a Libra hangs the moon, they don’t care if you notice. They just want you to take note of how perfectly it’s situated in the night sky — how it’s never looked bigger or brighter — and don’t the stars look dreamier than usual, too? Ruled by Venus, Libras are sometimes accused of living in a bit of a fantasy world. But here’s what this quixotic air sign needs to remember: Mood lighting will only get you so far. 

Tea leaf “fortunes” for the rest of you:

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

Remember the children’s game, Telephone? How “Go fly a kite” could become “Let’s leave tonight” in an instant? Don’t let this happen in real life.    

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

You’re feeling red hot this month. In other words: It’s time to ditch the sweatpants.   

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

Someone wants to be your friend. Try letting your guard down.   

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)

What does a flower need to grow? I bet you know. Now, pretend you’re the flower.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

Before you dip your toes into the tempting waters of someone else’s drama, ask yourself if it’s worth swimming upstream.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

Your sensitive side is showing. See what happens when you don’t cover it up.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

Expanding your horizons doesn’t always mean leaving the couch. But it’s probably a good idea.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

There are two sides to every story. But for you, it’s more like a prism.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

In a world of this-isms and that-isms, choose peace.   

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

Three words: pancakes for breakfast. You know what I’m talking about.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)

Let’s just say Venus is on your side this month.  PS

Zora Stellanova has been divining with tea leaves since Game of Thrones’ Starbucks cup mishap of 2019. She lives in the N.C. foothills with her Sphynx cat, Lyla. 


Pop Culture Doppelgängers

Produced by Brady Gallagher     Photographs by William McDermott

Schitt’s Creek

Mark Hawkins as Johnny Rose

Mark is a master craftsman who has been designing fine jewelry and restoring your most cherished pieces in his Southern Pines store since 1978.

Eve Avery as Moira Rose

Eve opened her eponymously named boutique of meticulously chosen women’s clothing and accessories in Southern Pines in 2001.

Julian Hagner as David Rose

Julian gracefully waltzed in from Germany to provide a European touch at the Karma Spa Lounge and Beauty Bar in Southern Pines.

Daena Rae as Alexis Rose

Daena teamed up with Abi Ray in 2019 to create Legacy Kids Magazine, a publication for, and by, military kids.

Backstreet Boys

From a new downtown location to some killer beer slushies, Southern Pines Brewing Company has got you covered. While the front-of-the-house staff fills the glasses, it’s the hard work of the boys in the back who keep the liquid flowing all across North Carolina. You can view these larger than life characters through the glass as they work. If you still feel like two worlds apart, you can catch the guys at Southern Pines Brewing on Pennsylvania enjoying a cold one. Stop and say hey to them. They’d want it that way.


Chad Norris is the master mixologist for the Leadmine Whiskey Bar and Kitchen in Southern Pines.

Thelma and Louise

Sundi McLaughlin as Thelma

Sundi will bring a smile to your face when you step inside Mockingbird on Broad, her eclectic shop filled with furniture, home accessories, jewelry and more in Southern Pines.

Virginia Gallagher as Louise

Whether it’s meditation, travel or hanging out with crystals, Virginia, founder of Hot Asana Yoga Studio in Southern Pines, can make magic happen for you.

Edward Scissorhands

Baxter Clement  is owner of Casino Guitars in Southern Pines, a world-renowned destination for aficionados of stringed instruments.


Raising the roof and bringing down the house

By Bland Simpson     Photograph by Tim Sayer

Stephen Smith — teacher, journalist, poet, and the witty and imaginative inventor of the Bushnell Hamp tales — has over many years graciously kept me involved with Moore County, and for that I owe him quite a lot. Though the doors of the old Pine Crest Inn at Pinehurst or those of the Sunrise Theater across from the vintage Seaboard Coast Line Railroad depot in Southern Pines are each only an hour and fifteen minutes’ drive from our Clover Garden home, what a world of difference that short drive always made, as we drifted from the mixed Piedmont oak and loblolly pine and hickory woods to the rolling sandhills and longleaf pine, turkey oak, and blackjack.

An invitation came to me from Stephen and Audrey Moriarty, the fine, elegant Pinehurst archivist and author, to join in and do a short set for a “Raise the Roof” fundraiser at the movie house, the Sunrise, which the community was all about repairing and returning to its status as a small legitimate theatre and concert venue. The multifaceted evening, a musical revue, also included the first-tier Moore County musicians Craig Fuller (songwriter and lead singer of Pure Prairie League’s lovely ballad “Amie,” which he sang this night backed by Fayetteville’s Bill Joyner and Danny Young) and Jimmy Jones (coauthor of “Handyman” and lead singer of “Good Timin’”) — the place was packed, and Jimmy sat on a high stool downstage to lay out extended versions of his two major hits, introducing “Handyman” with a tale.

Seems Jimmy had once hit a rough patch in his career and, against his common sense and better judgment, he called upon a New York City loan shark he knew, and he was about to take out an extortionary loan that he knew would be bound to hurt him. But just before he signed in blood and took the cash, Jimmy got an urgent call from a close friend saying, “Jimmy, don’t do it — James Taylor is just about to release his version of ‘Handyman’! You won’t need that loan anymore!” The crowd, knowing both versions of the song, roared with laughter, and Jimmy then said, “I stood up, said ‘Thank you so very much,’ and backed out of that loan shark’s office just as fast as I could!”

And there and then in the Sunrise, Jimmy Jones, still laughing at his own tale, lit into “Handyman” with an unmitigated joy, while a racially integrated cadre of senior women in green and red sateen hot pants, a dancing group from a nearby Moore County fitness parlor, poured forth from the wings and, surrounding the R&B hero, kicked, shuffled, and ball-changed for him from start to finish, as we all sang with him: “I fix broken hearts — I’m your handyman!”

If joy could be bottled, jugged, or jarred, the contents would sound and feel and even taste something very like what all was present in this little old Southern Pines theatre that moment, that night. Like one of Faulkner’s characters, I felt both humble and proud to be a part of it, or even just to see and hear it, too.  PS

From North Carolina: Land of Water, Land of Sky by Bland Simpson, photography by Ann Cary Simpson, Scott Taylor, and Tom Earnhardt. Copyright 2021 by Bland Simpson. Used by permission of the publisher,

The Omnivorous Reader

Weddings and Wit

Learning about love on a deadline

By Anne Blythe

If you’re someone who likes to soak in every detail from The New York Times Vows section — and even if you’re not — Cate Doty just might have a book for you to tuck into your beach bag or snuggle up with beside a late fall or early winter fire. Her first book, Mergers and Acquisitions: Or, Everything I Know About Love I Learned on the Wedding Pages, published in May, builds on her experiences as a wedding announcement reporter for the Times. She likes that her memoir has been described as a breezy beach read, but it’s much more.

It’s a sprightly written coming-of-age story that gives readers a peek into how the Vows columns and marriage announcements get onto the newspaper’s pages while also revealing a young reporter questioning those traditions and institutions. Don’t expect a tell-all about those couples whose carefully crafted wedding resumes include first dates after a Harvard debate club meeting, or mentions of grandparents or parents with penthouse apartments overlooking Central Park.

This is a love story, an account from a witty, self-deprecating author who readily acknowledges the irony of poking fun at people who go to great lengths to get their wedding announcements into the Times, then having the news of her own marriage published there, too.

On a hot August morning on the stone steps of Wilson Library at UNC-Chapel Hill, Cate Doty — born in Raleigh and raised in Fayetteville — was sitting with her husband, Michael, watching students rush along the campus sidewalks between classes. Nearly two decades ago, Doty was one of those students herself, unsure of the path she would chart from those brick walkways. During freshman orientation, she wandered into the offices of The Daily Tar Heel, a feisty student newspaper that has launched many a storied journalism career.

An eventual North Carolina writer began to take shape.

Now, she’s back on campus, a published author, teaching in the journalism school and reminiscing about what compelled her to share her own wedding story after getting her feet wet writing for The New York Times wedding section. Doty takes her readers on a journey from her student days and a steamy romance on the cusp of adulthood in Chapel Hill to the nation’s capital and then New York, a city that woos its young arrivals while also putting them through their paces.

Along the way, she gives glimpses of Fayetteville, the Cumberland County city where she got a taste of the country club life, cotillions and what it was like to live on the edge of privilege in a complicated South while also questioning whether she was one of the advantaged or someone on the outside looking in. There are snippets from Swansboro, where her mother lives now, and peeks inside one of the largest newspapers in the world, where she worked as a researcher, news assistant and eventually editor.

Through the trials and tribulations of falling in and out of love while writing wedding announcements, Doty falls head over heels for a city, a profession and a fellow journalist — the same guy sitting with her below the marble columns of Wilson Library. It’s a book that makes you think about the nature of weddings, the institution of marriage, the stories behind the unions, and why anybody needs to read about the floral arrangements, dress designs and guests at the ceremony.

“What’s in a wedding announcement? After all, weddings will (and do) happen without one,” Doty writes. “In fact, most American nuptials, successful or not, go unnoticed by news organizations and unannounced, except on social media, and the occasional church bulletin. But the weddings we wrote about for the Times — they were different. They were, generally speaking, wildly expensive — far beyond the average American expenditure of $44,000. But they were more than the sum of their gilded parts. They were mergers of families and bank accounts, of aspirations and hubris. And these announcements were battle plans, and business plans, of class and warfare. They were incredibly difficult to obtain, which meant that they were worth far more than the soy ink they were made of.”

Doty transports readers through the Times offices to the desk of the wedding section editor, who quickly opens her eyes even wider to a world of haves and have-nots, and an exclusive club of brides and grooms who can be demanding, difficult, defiant and on occasion downright devoid of decency. The New York Social Register played a part in which of the 200, or more, wedding announcements submitted each week would land in the 40 to 45 available slots that readers of the Times print pages lingered over on Sundays. Lineage back to the Mayflower mattered, as did social and financial connections to Newport, Palm Beach, the Hamptons and the Upper East Side.

There’s a revealing story about one senator, “a craven, attention-hungry man,” who slammed down the phone on Doty in outrage as she asked him the same kind of fact-checking questions put to all who expect their nuptial announcements to appear in the Times.

Doty, who’s now 42, started writing for the wedding desk in 2004 and did so off and on for six years. The first three seasons she chronicles in her memoir are so descriptive that you can almost hear the phone messages blaring on Monday mornings after an aggrieved newlywed calls to complain about something put in — or left out of — their special announcement. Following the counsel of her legal team, Doty changed the names of editors, colleagues, brides and grooms she worked with and reported on in her book.

One name was unchanged, however, that of her husband, Michael. He worked at the Times, too, starting there as a news clerk and ending on the politics desk in 2016 after the primaries and general election. They both took buyouts that year when facing new demands of parenthood and changes at the newspaper.

In Doty’s memoir, readers see the confusion she wrestles with after Michael, her friend and lunch partner, invites her to a play in which he’s a character running wild in the bayou on a New York stage, completely naked and covered with mud.

“The lighting was artfully done so that you couldn’t see everything, but I saw nearly everything,” Doty wrote. “My face burned like lava. It trickled down my neck and my body, and I thought, Well then.”

She delivered her blunt critique of the play at lunch, blurting out a question they still playfully debate today, just as they do in the pages of the book. “‘You didn’t tell me you were going to be completely naked,’ I said over my turkey cheeseburger at the Westway. He looked startled, and then angry. ‘Yes, I did,’ he said prickly. ‘I wouldn’t have not told you that.’” They eventually had their first kiss on the steps of the New York Public Library between Patience and Fortitude, the marble lions that flank them.

Though it’s a city they’ve left behind for their home in Raleigh where they’re raising their first-grader and their dog, New York still occupies a huge space in their hearts.

“We were learning how to be ourselves,” Michael says about the book and the city he describes as a prominent character in it. “We were learning how to be together. We were learning how to live in the city. We were learning how to navigate a career path at the Times together.”

They were both Southerners in their City of Dreams, he the child of divorce with a nomadic sense of place, and she from a line of North Carolina women who, among other things, insisted that you don’t put family silver in the dishwasher for fear of damaging the patina. They challenged each other on their traditions and roots. 

North Carolinians may recognize a bit of themselves in the family and characters that come alive through Doty’s funny, warm and introspective words. They might question why a woman seemingly so critical of wedding announcements and the carefully crafted displays of stations in life that go along with them ends up writing a book about her own wedding story.

“I’m not above the fray,” Doty added. “But I also think it’s important, as someone who comes from this background, to talk about it. To poke holes in it.”   PS

Anne Blythe has been a reporter in North Carolina for more than three decades. She has covered city halls, higher education, the courts, crime, hurricanes, ice storms, droughts, floods, college sports, health care and the wonderful characters who make this state such an interesting place.


October Books


The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles

In Nebraska during the summer of 1954, 18-year-old Emmett is released from his sentence on a work farm to retrieve his 8-year-old brother following the death of his father and the subsequent foreclosure on the family farm. The plan is to head west on the Lincoln Highway for a fresh start, but two of Emmett’s friends, who escaped from the work farm, have other ideas. So begins an incredible odyssey blown completely off course, hopping freight trains and encountering Americana. Filled with retribution, heartache, empathy and humor, Towles delivers a rich and powerful novel with deeply developed characters.

No Diving Allowed, by Louise Marburg

From F. Scott Fitzgerald to John Cheever, the swimming pool has long held a unique place in the mythos of the American idyll, by turns status symbol and respite. The 14 stories that comprise No Diving Allowed fearlessly plunge the depths of the human condition as Marburg freights her narratives with the often unfathomable pressure of what lies beneath.

Jacket Weather, by Mike DeCapite

Jacket Weather drops you right into the beating heart of New York City — the heart of the music scene of the ’80s, the steamy gym of early morning, the delicious pain of obsessive love, the quiet rainy morning with the half-finished New York Times crossword, and a recipe for perfect Italian pasta. This one is a real treat.

The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven, by Nathaniel Ian Miller

Beginning in 1916, the hapless young Sven leaves Stockholm for a life of adventure in the icy north. A terrible mining accident alters his life and appearance, pushing him farther north to lead a solitary existence. Fate steps in, bringing a small, fascinating cast of people into his world, enhancing his isolation and worldview. Miller provides unforgettable characters, a deeply mesmerizing tale, and the most exquisite prose.

Miss Eliza’s English Kitchen: A Novel of Victorian Cookery and Friendship, by Annabel Abbs

A light novel about Eliza Acton, a British woman who lived in the 1800s. For 10 years she worked with her kitchen maid, Ann, and recorded her recipes with precise measurements and in a format that was readable. Publishing her cookbook, she changed the way recipes were written forever.


On Animals, by Susan Orlean

In a charming menagerie of stories of beasts and birds and the bizarre humans who share their world, Orlean writes about a range of creatures — the household pets we dote on; the animals we raise to end up as meat on our plates; the creatures who could eat us for dinner; the various tamed and untamed animals we share our planet with. In her own backyard, Orlean discovers the delights of keeping chickens. In a different backyard, in New Jersey, she meets a woman who has 23 pet tigers — something none of her neighbors knew about until one of them escaped. In Iceland, the world’s most famous whale resists efforts to set him free; in Morocco, the world’s hardest working donkeys find respite at a special clinic. We meet a show dog, a lost dog, and a pigeon who knows exactly how to get home.

The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music, by Dave Grohl

You may know Grohl as the Nirvana drummer or the frontman of the Foo Fighters or the interesting and reflective essayist who writes beautifully for magazines like The Atlantic. These essays encompass his childhood, life as a dad, creation of both iconic bands, activism, and memories of stars like Iggy Pop, Joan Jett, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney and Little Richard.


Boo, Baa, La La La, by Sandra Boynton

When does a cow say “Boooooo”? When it’s Halloween and she wants to try something newwwwww. Superb silliness from the beloved Sandra Boynton will make all the ghouls and boys giggle with this new board book just perfect for fall fun. (Ages 0-3.)

Looking for a Jumbie, by Tracey Baptiste

Mama says Jumbies only exist in stories, but Naya is pretty sure she knows where to find them. This We’re Going on a Bear Hunt-ish book with a Caribbean beat is the perfect (only a little bit scary) autumn read-aloud. (Ages 4-6.)

Bat Wings? Cat Wings!, By Laura Gehl

The cow says moo and the dog says ruff, but there’s always that kid who wants to turn everything on its head, and this is the perfect book for those little rebels. Animal facts combine with a bit of ridiculousness to make for a fun read-aloud that’s ideal for bedtime or any time giggles are in order. (Ages 4-7.)

The Beatryce Prophecy, by Kate DiCamillo

When your family is in danger, when you are the subject of a prophecy, when you are in the way of a king’s mission, it really helps if you have the soft ear of a goat to hold onto — and a friend or two on your side. From the three-time Newbery Award winning author, this brilliant novel is a must for young adventurers. (Ages 9-12.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.


On a Wig and a Prayer

By Jim Moriarty

When the occasion warrants, I’ve been known to dress in women’s clothes. I’m not going to blame genetics entirely for this but it’s an established fact that my eldest brother — the one with the Ivy League law degree who clerked on the United States Supreme Court — once performed a musical number in drag at a 137-year-old Boston club that, on a separate occasion, had entertained Winston Churchill at dinner. My brother did allow as how the entire affair was a bit embarrassing, though given his singing voice, I’m not sure which part would have been the most mortifying.

While my local club, the Bitter and Twisted, never, to the best of my knowledge, hosted a British prime minister, I have appeared behind the bar there in female costume. It may have happened more than once. One particular evening it was for a holiday fundraiser. My wife, the War Department, and I joined Doris and Neville Beamer to pour beer and mix drinks dressed as The Mamas and the Papas. I was Mama Cass.

Costuming wasn’t a significant issue. As luck would have it, Mary McKeithen at Showboat has all my measurements — though for this episode I confess broad admiration at her ability to conjure up a pair of size 10 1/2 white go-go boots, a feat she accomplished with the apparent ease of ordering a pepperoni pizza.

The evening coincided with a visit from our nephew. At the time he was a C-130 pilot on active duty in the California Air Force Reserve, and he and his crew had put in at Pope Air Force Base on their way to who knows where. We invited them to join the festivities, which they did.

When our two-hour cruise behind the bar had ended, we collectively decided to retire to Neville’s basement emporium to unwind from the demands of performance art. Unaccustomed as I was to the rigors of wearing white go-go boots, I couldn’t tolerate the pain any longer and had to make a stop at home to de-Cass before joining the rest of our jolly band. I showed up at Neville’s in my usual costume — jeans, tennis shoes, a golf shirt and a jacket. As time went by and the feeling returned to my feet, my wife was approached by one of our nephew’s crewmen.

“So, what happened to Uncle Jim?” he inquired, clearly crestfallen at the mysterious absence of Mama Cass.

She nonchalantly pointed at me several barstools away. “He’s right there,” she said. And had been for the better part of an hour.

The appearance, or disappearance, of Mama Cass wasn’t my last brush with blush. That occurred some years later when I was on tap to reprise our bartending masquerade, this time dressed as a traditional geisha.

The War Department had volunteered to apply my makeup for me. After painting my face with the appropriate white greasepaint, she began drawing on the bright red lipstick with the care and concentration of a high school biology student slicing open a frog. When she finished she stood back to admire her handiwork.

“Oh, my God,” she said, her eyes widening with fright.

“What?” I asked. What had she done? Was I fixed up to look like the Joker?

“You look exactly like your mother.”

That was enough to make me hang up my muumuus for good.  PS

Jim Moriarty is the Editor of PineStraw and can be reached at