Tea Leaf Astrologer


(October 23 – November 21)

They say one rotten apple spoils the barrel. Let’s put it this way: Your thoughts are the apples. While you aren’t prone to having more wormy ones, per se, you’re certainly more inclined to hold onto them. Grudges, in particular. Those closest to you can sense when you’re stewing, but no one knows how dismal it can feel to be dancing to the same noxious tune ad nauseum. Remember that you’re the DJ. Forgiveness is a gift to yourself. 

Tea leaf “fortunes” for the rest of you:

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

Best not to think twice.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

Let them talk. You know the truth.

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)

Set an extra plate at the table.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

Chew before you swallow.

Aries (March 21 – April 19) 

Bring a poncho.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20) 

This might sting: There’s nothing between the lines.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

Try rotating your mattress.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

Wear the dang sweater.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

You’re asking the wrong question.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22) 

Go for the store-bought.

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

Something’s overheating. (Hint: It’s not dinner.)  PS

Zora Stellanova has been divining with tea leaves since Game of Thrones’ Starbucks cup mishap of 2019. While she’s not exactly a medium, she’s far from average. She lives in the N.C. foothills with her Sphynx cat, Lyla. 


November is a great sweeping wind, a clearing of what must go, a dance with a howling reaper.

The crickets have disappeared. Their nightly serenades, which crackled like warm vinyl from spring through harvest season, faded with the first hard frost. In their wake, the wind shrieks through naked trees. A great horned owl bellows from his perch.

The garden folds into itself. The porch toads that lurked by the watering can on warm autumn evenings now burrow beneath the frost line. Field mice shimmy down chimneys, squeeze through eaves, craft their nests inside cozy walls.

Songbirds come and go. Hermit thrushes strip the hollies of their crimson fruit. White-throated sparrows shuffle through crumpled leaves, scratching up what’s buried underneath.

The wind sings of a quickening darkness. The squirrels, scrambling to cache pecans as they fall, retort with squawks and chatter. A skein of geese sails across a golden sunset.

At dusk, when the wind nips at the heels of those still roaming, a pair of coyotes yips and howls beyond the fringe. Back and forth they shriek, wailing like banshees, piercing the air with their shrill and haunting staccato.

“I’m here,” cries one to the other.

A single voice sounds like dozens.

A biting wind howls back.

When Pies Fly

For our neighbors in Albany, Georgia (pecan capital of the world), it’s raining you-know-what right now. But we have our share of toothsome treasures plummeting upon our leaf-littered neck of the woods, too. Especially in the southeastern part of the state. Whatever you call them — PEE-cans or pee-KAHNS — ’tis harvest season. Pick them as they drop or else the crows and squirrels will beat you to it. You’ll want to let them cure (essential if they’re not yet ripe) before shelling and freezing them. Store them in a mesh bag — and in a cool, dry place — for about two weeks. While you’re waiting? Dream of pie.

On that nut-studded note, have you ever cracked pecans? If so, then you can more deeply appreciate that the average pecan pie packs between 70 and 80 of those sweet and buttery little candies. No need to mention the calories.


O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being.

Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead

Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing

— Percy Bysshe Shelley


Prepare to be Dazzled

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, a total lunar eclipse begins around 3 a.m. According to Smithsonian magazine, which named this celestial event one of 10 “dazzling” must-sees of 2022, the moon will appear reddish, as if “all the world’s sunrises and sunsets” are being cast upon it.

Speaking of dazzling events, here’s to hoping your Thanksgiving will be described as such. At the very least, don’t let the parsnips eclipse that homemade pie.  PS

Out of the Blue

Picture This

A voyage into the past

By Deborah Salomon

What follows is about pictures.

As a reporter for 40 years I learned to call them photos. Sounds more professional, like “film” instead of “movie.” But lately, watching families sift through the contents of burned out or flooded homes, I’ve reverted to pictures, which better describes amateur snapshots memorializing . . . everything — the first baby’s first bath, toddler birthday parties, a basset puppy named Duffy, skiing, football, school plays, beach vacations, graduations. I have a picture of my mother, born in 1902, with her parents and baby brother, taken in 1906. My father brought back reams of sepia-toned pictures from World War I, in France, including one of the ambulance he drove. I went wild with my own grandchildren; every week the drugstore got a roll or two. Doubles, please, so I could mail some off.

Must be thousands, crammed into plastic under-the-bed boxes. Sometimes I pull one out, like slipping through a door overgrown with ivy into a secret garden. Remember Bert who drew a better world in sidewalk chalk, for Mary Poppins to jump in?

If only we could jump back into our pictures.

Often a picture will prompt a memory not altogether pleasant. That’s me, in Rome, feeding the famous Forum cats, who live on handouts. Sad.

Recently I wrote two features about couples in their 90s who had lived noteworthy lives. In preparation for the interview, each had spread scrapbooks and photo albums on a table. True, the pictures only depicted good times although, inevitably, happy turns sad as the generations pass.

At least nobody handed me a cellphone to flip through.

A picture/photo is tangible, printed on sturdy paper. It can be framed, tucked into a wallet, affixed to a refrigerator or, as non-agenarians do, mounted with caption in an album. I’m amazed the black and white photos I took with the first Polaroid camera (early ’60s) have not faded. Otherwise, I endured the wait, whittled down to an hour, until the film had been developed. Then I would re-live the event, perhaps from a different perspective. Like the hilarious pictures of my grandson on his first birthday. He dug into a piece of chocolate cake with both chubby hands, smearing it all over himself, the high chair and whoever came near. Now, I can smile. Then, I had to clean it — and him — up.

Digital cameras, and cellphones, have changed everything. I know, I know. Phones are omnipresent, meaning you never miss a shot. Photos can be sent by text, emailed. Cellphones and cameras can be plugged into other devices that print, albeit on flimsy copy paper. I’m sure there’s a way to back them up into some cloud or facility located in Never Never Land, but do you actually do it? Furthermore, cellphones are slippery little things that slide out of pockets and purses. But I don’t know anyone who routinely prints out the day’s catch to store under the bed in a long plastic box.

Not that plastic would protect against fire and floods. If climate change continues to destroy homes and lives somebody will hawk a secure metal container on late-night TV. As for albums/scrapbooks, I’m not that organized. Instead, to select pictures for this page I pulled out two dusty boxes, sat on the floor and went through hundreds of pictures, helter-skelter, taken over a 120-year span, from a grandmother I never knew to high school friends I had forgotten. I saw my first prom dress (scratchy net), all the apartments and houses I’ve lived in, cats and dogs I’ve loved, a ferryboat-sized Buick station wagon and a spiffy Olds convertible. I relived college graduation — mine and my daughters’ — and my son’s wedding. Yes, that’s me interviewing (Princess) Grace Kelly, during the filming of her last movie, in Asheville, in 1955.

Two boxes down, one to go, maybe another day when a storm has paused all electronic activities. Because getting lost in the past cuts both ways. I found pictures of gravestones, of healthy classmates who have withered with age. Of styles that now look silly: Mondrian-inspired mini-dresses, go-go boots and extreme bell-bottoms.

Kinship with homeowners poking through the ashes for a wedding picture, a son in Army uniform or a 50th anniversary cake runs strong, as does recalling the anticipation of picking up developed film. Digital isn’t the same, at least for me. Because, after all these years, one picture is still worth a thousand pixels.  PS 

Deborah Salomon is a contributing writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She may be reached at debsalomon@nc.rr.com.


Early Signs of Winter

Sighting the white-throated sparrow

By Susan Campbell

Here in the central part of North Carolina, the winged harbinger of winter is the white-throated sparrow. Summering in the forests of the far North, this bold little bird breeds across Canada and at elevation in northern New England. A medium-sized sparrow, it is brown above and white below with bold markings on the head. Pale stripes on the crown and a white throat patch are set off by gray feathers on the face. White-throateds also sport a yellow spot at the base of their stout bill.

Interestingly, there are two color forms of this species: those with heads that are white-striped as well as those that are tan-striped. Both forms persist because, as much as white-striped individuals are more aggressive during the breeding season, each almost always pair with the other type. Nests are made by the female in a depression on the ground under a low-growing tree or shrub. However, should it be depredated, the second nest may be placed on low branches.

If you have not spotted one of these birds, you almost certainly have heard their distinctive loud “seet” call emanating from thick vegetation. Their song, which can be heard even during cold weather, is a recognizable, liquid “oh sweet Canada” or to some, more of an “old Sam Peabody.” Since they tend to flock together, you are likely to encounter small groups along forest edges, farm fields, parks and suburban areas that have thick shrubbery.

White-throateds are commonly found at feeding stations, often in association with dark-eyed juncos, another bird of high country. These squatty sparrows actually have a broad diet. Although they primarily feed on a range of seeds during the winter months, their preference shifts during the year. In spring, they are more likely to seek out buds and flowers of fresh vegetation.

White-throated sparrows do not walk or run but hop when on the ground. As they forage, they will forcefully scratch backward in leaf litter using both feet and pouncing on food items that they uncover. These birds will also flick aside dead leaves using their bills. In the winter months, pecking orders form within flocks with the more aggressive males dominating.

If you want to attract white-throated sparrows this winter, it is easy and inexpensive. Since they tend to stay low, scattering a seed mix in a cleared spot near shrubs or other thick vegetation is all it may take. White-throateds will hop up onto a stump or low platform feeder as well. Easier yet, simply leave a portion of your yard unmown until spring, and these predictable visitors may well turn up to take advantage of the resulting seeds that remain as the growing season winds down.  PS

Susan Campbell would love to receive your wildlife sightings and photographs at susan@ncaves.com.



Styled by Brady Gallagher

Photographs by Tim Sayer

Living with a Legend

Donald Ross, up close and personal

By Gil Hanse


Historical photos from the Tufts Archive/Village of Pinehurst

Donald Ross was born 150 years ago this month in Dornoch, Scotland. Obviously, as a student of golf architecture, I had read about him. All of us involved in the art, and the business, of golf course design follow in his footsteps to some degree. There probably isn’t a place in America where Ross’ presence is felt more keenly than it is in Pinehurst, and my own relationship with him became more personal while I was there working on the renovation of Pinehurst’s No. 4 course.

I honestly can’t remember the first Donald Ross golf course I ever walked on. It was probably a little nine hole course up in the Catskills in New York where I went to high school. It’s called Rip Van Winkle Country Club now, and I’m sure Ross never visited it after laying it out. The first course of his that my partner, Jim Wagner, and I ever worked on was Plainfield Country Club, which I still think is one of his best. It’s not a flashy, glitzy spot. It’s not on the ocean. But pound-for-pound, as far as a piece of property, it really is spectacular. And the way he used it was incredible. Courses evolve and change and, hopefully, we’re respectful and thoughtful enough that, when we finish our work, it looks a lot like what he would have done.

When I was in the landscape architecture program at Cornell University, I would try to go and see everything I possibly could. I went to Pinehurst for the first time in the late ’80s, maybe early ’90s, on a study trip, kind of touring through that part of the country to see whatever I could see. I wouldn’t say I was particularly studying Ross’ work but, if it happened to be Ross and I was there, great. Obviously, Pinehurst was an important place to stop.

Unless you go to Seminole Golf Club or Aronimink Golf Club or Pinehurst No. 2 — among the ones he spent a ton of time on — Ross courses seldom seem spectacular but are always solid. You would never go out there and say, “Oh, my God, I’ve never seen anything like that before,” but you never left thinking it was a bad golf course or one with significant flaws. It was always just solid. That’s a helluva legacy. If you do 400-plus golf courses and the worst they are is solid, that’s pretty good.

His early stuff had to have been compromised somewhat by the fact that he was still playing professionally and still teaching. His position was golf professional. And then there was a middle phase where he transitioned from a playing career to being a golf course architect solely. Take something like the Country Club of Rochester, for example. It was built in 1916 and the greens were nice but they weren’t terribly complex. Then he came back in the late ’20s and early ’30s and added some greens. The complexity and the beauty and the aesthetics of those were off the charts.

You also see it in his plans. The early work was just stick drawings and little sketches. Then, as he started to do more and more work — and he needed those drawings to communicate to the people who were building the courses — they became more intricate and more detailed.

But the courses Ross actually spent his time on will always be the pinnacle of his work. There’s no way he could physically do all 400 and give it the time and the energy and the effort the way he did the 15 or 20 that he actually put his heart and soul into. There’s no better example of that than Pinehurst No. 2.

In 2017, when we were getting ready to work on Course 4, I ran into Bob Dedman and Tom Pashley at the Walker Cup at Los Angeles Country Club. We were chatting and Bob told me they had purchased Dornoch Cottage, Donald Ross’ house. He talked about how they were going to use it for corporate entertaining and as a resource for the resort and then he said, “But we’re not going to do any of that until you live there while you’re renovating Course 4.”

My jaw just about hit the ground. It was the nicest honor that has ever been extended to my wife, Tracey, and me while working on these projects. Bob, I think, knew how important that would be for us and how meaningful it would be. It was just an incredible opportunity.

As things are wont to happen, the renovations on the house took a little longer than they thought, so we started out in a little cottage in the village and then ultimately moved into Dornoch Cottage. How often do you get the chance to go out your back door, walk to work across one of the greatest golf courses in the world and draw inspiration from that? It’s 10 or 15 minutes walking through Course 2 to get to Course 4 and you’re looking at beautiful landforms and beautiful bunkers and greens. I know it wasn’t his desk, but sitting in his office and working on plans and drawings, it was incredible.

One night while we were there Tracey and I woke up around 3:30 in the morning. We both heard somebody say “goodnight” and we looked at each other. I’m sure it was one of us talking in our sleep but the fact that we both woke up and we both heard the exact same thing was a little scary. Hopefully, if his spirit is in the house, he was happy we were living there. I know we were.  PS

Gil Hanse is one of the world’s most respected golf course architects. His projects have included a major renovation of Pinehurst No. 4; The Cradle; The Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and the Castle Stuart Golf Links in Inverness, Scotland.

Space Well Spent

Blinkbonnie is larger than life

By Deborah Salomon

Photographs by John Gessner

Styling by Matt Hollyfield


Bigger-than-big. Practically enormous. This residence is proportioned for an era of grandeur.

Scarlett would recognize the Tara-esque columns, while the European antiques gleam as though polished by Mr. Carson, the butler on Downton Abbey, who might appreciate the triple-sized butler’s pantry, too. Remove the runner and its length suits bowling. A grandfather clock reaches for the ceiling. The pool and pool house/sauna would eclipse those of most hotels. There are five bedrooms, six bathrooms, three home offices, a basement of ballroom dimensions, multiple gardens, even a fenced dog park for mini goldendoodle Lilly.

Just living there could be an aerobic workout.

Of course Pinehurst Old Town centenarian Blinkbonnie has been updated, enlarged and repurposed by several occupants. An added-on portico may seem incongruous to the Dutch Colonial architecture with gambrel roof, yet the house clings in spirit to an original purpose: genteel, happy times when conversation was an art and money flowed like prohibition whiskey during Pinehurst’s fashionable winter “season.”

But times have changed, as has Blinkbonnie — Gaelic for “a glimpse of beauty.” Its most recent iteration: a refuge where owner Lisa Youngclaus escaped COVID by floating on the pool with her friends or, on a rainy day, dawdling in the 2,000-volume library where books are color-coded, or maybe even having a go at the full-sized billiards table in the finished basement where her son and friends once hung out.


The story starts, as do other Pinehurst homestead histories, in the early days of the 20th century. In 1917, Simon Chapin of New York, a major developer of Myrtle Beach, got word of the vacation enclave the Tuftses were building. Liking what he found, he built what is now called While-Away Cottage for his family on Blue Road and this larger estate for his sister, Mary Alice Chapin May, on nearby McCaskill. She wasn’t there long. In 1920 the house, by then owned by Dickenson Bishop, was christened Bishop’s Cottage. Several owners followed, including someone identified as “well-known sporting figure” Jay Hall, and Pinehurst mayor Steve Smith and wife, Becky.

Golf drew Bill and Lisa Youngclaus, both advertising executives living in Chicago, to Pinehurst, where they owned a weekend home at Country Club of North Carolina. After their son was born in 1996, Lisa retired and the family moved to Pinehurst full time.

But the CCNC pied-à-terre wasn’t big enough for gatherings of the blended family. Besides, Lisa and Bill had spent a year in Paris, where she collected antiques on a grand scale, as well as art and assorted museum-quality objets begging a suitable venue. How many houses offer a double-wide foyer, intricate eyebrow moldings, bay windows, high ceilings, interesting wallpapers, chandeliers by Baccarat of Paris, a 30-foot-square living room dominated by a baby grand piano, drums, and an Aubusson tapestry of Pablo Picasso’s painting The Acrobat? The contorted abstract is flanked by contemporary armless sofas and antique French tables. Complementing this Picasso are several look-alikes Lisa found on Bald Head Island and had framed. On the floor, a silk rug from London. On the ceiling, strategically placed recessed lighting.

Yet, amid such splendor, Lisa chose checked gingham drapes hanging from a dowel rod. “I like to mix the old and the new,” she says, which explains a TV den with grasscloth walls, and sectional sofa in rust and sand tones that she calls her winter room. There are surprises, too, like the bathroom with a stained glass window and clawfoot tub, and a sunroom enhanced with blues, wicker and graceful ceiling details.


Throughout, a clever architect sited rooms with windows on two, sometimes three sides for maximum all-day light.

“I couldn’t believe it when we first walked around the house. I could see how our furniture fit the spaces. There was a place for everything,” including a giant French poster circa 1888, advertising an art exhibit in Brussels, that dominates the staircase landing.


Lisa remodeled the kitchen when they moved in but left the dark wood cabinetry, which she preferred to sterile all-white. She also kept Venetian plaster walls in a creamy hue but refreshed the master suite in blues and white, which continues into an adjoining sun/yoga room, her “serene retreat.”

Lisa is a yoga instructor who has traveled to India to import icons and other merchandise for studio boutiques. In her own home she successfully juxtaposes these pieces with formal European furnishings, a 17th century tapestry and contemporary art. Yet, given copious space and absence of clutter, each piece stands out, ready to tell its story.


Time passes, circumstances change. Bill died in 2006. Their son, a musician, is still close by, but Lisa’s step-grandchildren are grown. “When your family changes you make a new family, with friends,” Lisa says, recalling a recent birthday binge given by 15 girlfriends, her sisterhood. “I’ve matured with the house, from babies to kids hanging out in the basement.” To now.

But for Lisa one thing remains constant: “When I get up in the morning and walk down the stairs I think, OMG, look at the arched windows, the doors and everything else. I’m so lucky.”   PS



We were birds then

at thirteen, a chime

of wrens chirping,

carbonated goddesses

blowing bubbles,

spilling secrets,

dancing the latest dances,

we did each others’ hair,

practiced kissing,

gossiped (a girl’s

first step toward insight),

we shook the magic eight ball,

could not imagine

a path toward our future —

we only knew we didn’t want

our mothers’ lives,

taking dictation,

cleaning up messes,

hiding tins of money,

we were angels falling,

wingless, trusting

the wind to lift

our bodies of light

far above the silver

water tower,

to let us down kindly

somewhere, anywhere

wild and broad and new.

— Debra Kaufman

Debra Kaufman’s latest collection of poetry is God Shattered.