Simple Life

Simple Life

One Journey Ends, Another Begins

Lessons from the road long ago taken, but not forgotten

By Jim Dodson

In ancient Roman religion, the god Janus was a two-faced chap revered as the deity of doorways and transitions, endings and new beginnings — hence the origin of this month’s name, signaling a moment when we wisely take time to reflect on where we’ve come from and what may lie ahead.

This year, this notion has fresh relevance to me.

Sometime this spring, assuming the good Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, as my Southern granny liked to say, I hope to finish writing a book that means the world to me.

It’s about the legendary Great Wagon Road, described by historians as the most traveled road of colonial America, the country’s first immigrant “highway” that passed through the Appalachian backcountry from Philadelphia to Georgia, bringing tens of thousands of Scots-Irish, German and other European settlers to the American South, including my ancestors and quite possibly yours.

Joe Wilson, the great historian of American roots music, once estimated that “a quarter of Americans today have an ancestor who traveled the Great Wagon Road. You can still see traces of it, a track across high ridges, a trough through piney woods, guarded by wild turkey and chipmunks, a road that was in use for a century — the most important road in American history.”

Six years ago, an idea nurtured since I was knee-high to a historic roadside marker was born anew. With some encouraging research in hand, I paid a visit to a former Navy engineer named Tom Magnuson who heads up the Trading Path Association, based in Hillsborough, where my own Scottish ancestors arrived in the mid-1700s. Magnuson’s marvelous organization researches and documents America’s historic lost roads in order to preserve and expand public appreciation of them. I figured if anyone could tell me if it was feasible or pure folly to try to find the original roadway and follow it from Philly to Georgia 250 years after the fact, that fellow was Tom Magnuson.

My timing couldn’t have been better. He pointed out that recent scholarship by an army of historians, state archivists, archeologists and ordinary history nerds like me had actually determined the original path of the Great Wagon Road and even posted an exquisitely detailed description of its route through some of the most hallowed places in America.

“The Great Wagon Road,” Tom said, when I mentioned my objective, “is the grandaddy of America’s frontier highways — our creation myth, if you like — one that explains the origins of our national story better than any other. The people and ideas that came down that road shaped the character of this nation, both good and bad. That defines who we are today.”

This was all the encouragement I needed. Not long afterwards, I plotted my route and even purchased my very own “Great Wagon” for the journey — a 1996 Buick Roadmaster Grand Estate station wagon, said to be the last “true” American station wagon before Detroit switched to making SUVs.

I envisioned a pleasant three-week cruise along the winding 845-mile road in which I would encounter all sorts of interesting characters, local experts and fellow Wagon Road flamekeepers who shared my passion for this once lost frontier highway and its unique role in shaping America.

God laughs, as the ancient proverb goes, when grown men make plans.

In fact, the journey took five years and 2,100 miles to complete, in part due to the incredible amount of history, marvelous people and stories I found along the way, but also because a worldwide pandemic struck in the middle stages of my research, knocking me off the road for almost two years.

Certain moments stand out, including meeting descendants of Founding Fathers and Daniel Boone; sitting with a fabled Lincoln historian during the annual reading of the Gettysburg Address; walking Antietam with the National Park Service’s first female battlefield guide; and playing guitar with an Appalachian bluegrass legend.

All told,  I visited with — and interviewed — more than 100 extraordinary and ordinary folks from every walk of life who had their own love affair with the old road.

I cherish their diverse voices on my iPhone recorder because they belong to a wonderfully democratic mix of experts and colorful characters, activists and local historians, thoughtful museum curators, gifted poets and preachers, artists and war re-enactors, history nuts of every political persuasion and kind strangers whose names I simply forgot to write down.

In the end, listening to their stories about an old road that has gripped my imagination since I was a kid standing in front of a huge covered wagon in a museum brought me even closer to the country I love.

It taught me how amazingly far we’ve come — and have yet to go.

Somehow, I think the god Janus would approve.  PS

Jim Dodson can be reached at



January Books


Moonrise Over New Jessup, by Jamila Minnicks

It’s 1957, and after leaving the only home she has ever known, Alice Young steps off the bus into the all-Black town of New Jessup, Alabama, where residents have largely rejected integration as the means for Black social advancement. Instead, they seek to maintain, and fortify, the community they cherish on their “side of the woods.” Alice falls in love with Raymond Campbell, whose clandestine organizing activities challenge New Jessup’s longstanding status quo and could lead to the young couple’s expulsion — or worse — from the home they both hold dear. But as Raymond continues to push alternatives for enhancing New Jessup’s political power, Alice must find a way to balance her undying support for his underground work with her desire to protect New Jessup from the rising pressure of upheaval from inside, and outside, their side of town. Minnicks’ debut novel is both a celebration of Black joy and an examination of the opposing viewpoints that attended desegregation in America.

Just the Nicest Couple, by Mary Kubica

Jake Hayes is missing. This much is certain. At first his wife, Nina, thinks he is blowing off steam at a friend’s house after their heated fight the night before. But then a day goes by. Two days. Five. And Jake is still nowhere to be found. Lily Scott, Nina’s friend and co-worker, thinks she may have been the last to see Jake before he went missing. After Lily confesses everything to her husband, Christian, the two decide that nobody can find out what happened leading up to Jake’s disappearance, especially not Nina. But Nina is out there looking for her husband, and she won’t stop until the truth is discovered in this high-octane, edge-of-your-seat thriller.

The Mitford Affair, by Marie Benedict

Between the World Wars, the six Mitford sisters — each more beautiful, brilliant and eccentric than the next — dominate the English scene. Though they’ve weathered scandals before, the family falls into disarray when Diana divorces her wealthy husband to marry a fascist leader, and Unity follows her sister’s lead all the way to Munich, inciting rumors that she has become Hitler’s mistress. As the Nazis rise to power, Nancy Mitford grows suspicious of her sisters’ constant visits to Germany and the high-ranking fascist company they keep. When she overhears alarming conversations and uncovers disquieting documents, Nancy must make excruciating choices as Great Britain goes to war with Germany.

The Faraway World, by Patricia Engel

Two Colombian expats meet as strangers on the rainy streets of New York City, both burdened with traumatic pasts. In Cuba, a woman discovers her deceased brother’s bones have been stolen, and the love of her life returns from Ecuador for a one-night visit. A cash-strapped couple hustle in Miami, to life-altering ends. The Faraway World is a collection of arresting stories from the New York Times bestselling author of Infinite Country. The Washington Post calls Engel “a gifted storyteller whose writing shines even in the darkest corners.” Intimate and panoramic, these stories bring to life the vibrancy of community, and the epic deeds and quiet moments of love.

Exiles, by Jane Harper

At a busy festival site on a warm spring night, a baby lies alone in her pram, her mother vanishing into the crowd. A year on, Kim Gillespie’s absence casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather deep in the heart of South Australian wine country to welcome a new addition to the family. Joining the celebrations is federal investigator Aaron Falk. But as he soaks up life in the lush valley, he begins to suspect this tight-knit group may be more fractured than it seems. Between Falk’s closest friend, a missing mother, and a woman he’s drawn to, dark questions linger as long-ago truths begin to emerge.



The Creative Act: A Way of Being, by Rick Rubin

Many famed music producers are known for a particular sound. Rubin is known for something else: creating a space where artists of all different genres and traditions can hone in on who they really are and what they really offer. He has made a practice of helping people transcend their self-imposed expectations in order to reconnect with a state of innocence from which the surprising becomes inevitable. Over the years, as he has thought deeply about where creativity comes from and where it doesn’t, he has learned that being an artist isn’t about your specific output, it’s about your relationship to the world. Creativity has a place in everyone’s life, and everyone can make that place larger. The Creative Act is a beautiful and generous course of study that illuminates the path of the artist as a road we all can follow.



Ice! Poems about Polar Life, by Douglas Florian

Brrrrfect poetry for the winter months. Ice! will warm the hearts of young readers with funny frozen antics of penguins, caribou, narwhals and other cold climate critters. (Ages 3-7.)

The Year of the Cat, by Richard Ho

Rat, pig, dog, sheep, monkey, rooster, horse, snake, dragon, tiger, rabbit and ox — all are stars of the zodiac. But whatever happened to Cat? Find out the rest of the story in this fun tale that’s the perfect way to honor the Chinese New Year. (Ages 5-7.)

Groundhog Gets it Wrong, by Jessica Townes

Predicting the weather is a big job, so when Groundhog takes over as the spring seer, and things don’t go exactly as planned, he has to get creative to make meteorological magic happen. Not your normal Groundhog Day title, this humorous take on the celebration also includes a few historical facts to make the day even more fun. (Ages 3-6.)

Moon Rising: A Graphic Novel, by Tui Sutherland

The Wings of Fire series is the hottest property on the market for voracious readers in grades 3-6 and with a scheduled print run of 500,000 this sixth graphic novel adaptation is sure to be the book in every backpack when it lands on Dec 27. (Ages 8-12.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

Creators of N.C.

Creators of N.C.

The Buddy System

Old friends lend a Haand

By Wiley Cash

Photographs By Mallory Cash


If my best friends from high school and I were able to live our youthful artistic dreams we’d still be playing in a garage band called The Subterraneans. Luckily, ceramicists Mark Warren and Chris Pence, who met in high school in the late 90s in northern Florida, had a business plan. In 2012 they founded a ceramics and glassware company called Haand, which is named after the archaic Norwegian word for “hand,” and where everything is made by, you guessed it, hand. Since founding their company, Mark and Chris have partnered with restaurants around the world, including Beard Award winners and local culinary royalty like Ashley Christensen and Vivian Howard, with whom they’ve launched a special collection.

There’s an old saying that goes, “If you show me your friends I can show you your future.” If only we all had friends like Mark and Chris during high school. The best businesses, like the best friendships, grow organically from shared interest and vision, and while Mark’s and Chris’ professional paths briefly diverged after college — Mark pursued the arts while Chris worked as an accountant — they came back together over a decade later in rural North Carolina as roommates and business partners in a crumbling old mansion. (How crumbling? Let’s just say that the same bucket that caught water from the kitchen drain was used to flush the toilet.) In this auspicious setting, Haand was born.

On a warm fall morning in late November, I parked in the grassy lot outside the Haand showroom and production studio in Burlington. The 13,000-square-foot brick building was once a hosiery mill, and it still retains its industrial feel, despite the gorgeous colors and earthy appearance of the countless handmade ceramic pieces that greet you as soon as you step inside.


I found Mark, Haand’s creative director and co-founder, as he passed through the showroom on his way out the door. He stopped and greeted me warmly with a broad smile that was nearly hidden by a thick beard. Mark very much looks the part of a potter, and he very much looks the part of someone who might enjoy living in a house where a single bucket serves as both a kitchen and a bathroom appliance. I hadn’t let anyone at Haand know I was coming, and I felt bad about dropping in during the middle of the day, but Mark didn’t seem to mind. He casually showed me around the production studio where a couple of dozen people were at work at various stations, each one marking an integral step in the process of achieving the distinct look and feel that Haand is known for.

As we walk through the space, Mark explains the process, beginning after he completes each design, whether it be for a vase, a coffee cup or a serving dish. A mold is built from each design, and into the mold is poured liquid porcelain slip. Once the piece dries inside the mold, it is removed, cleaned, smoothed with a sponge, and hand-inspected before being stamped with Haand’s logo and the phrase “Made in NC, USA.” The piece is then bisque fired and heated to 1,800 degrees, and this is where each piece gets interesting and distinct.

“Our clay body itself is what’s called vitreous,” Mark says, “so it melts at a really high temperature, and then it will become kind of liquid during a period of the firing. The clay kind of remembers things that have happened to it. So if you bump it with your thumb or kind of move it, it might look strange going in, and then it comes out and it has melted and softened and completely shifted its form. You can’t really fight that unless you’re doing what they do in industrial kilns, which is not what we do here. There’s a deeper truthfulness that can come out of not trying to fight the process and just letting it be what it is. It’s a beautiful thing.”

There is no doubt that each piece made by the folks at Haand is beautiful not only in its design, but also in its color. After the pieces are fired they are glazed with a liquid coating of minerals that bonds to the clay, and brings a glassy and distinct color finish and texture to each piece, whether it be fern green or matte grey or one of the stunning Cloudware finishes that looks just like its namesake.

After the glazing, each piece goes into the gas kiln, where it’s fired at 2,300 degrees so that the clay and the glaze thoroughly bond. Afterward, each piece is polished and inspected before either being shipped out or stocked in the showroom.

All told, countless hands touch the pieces during the process, and every step reflects the hand of the maker who’s worked on it, which ensures that each piece, even if it’s part of a set, bears its own distinctions. Roughly 90 percent of Haand’s employees were novices before walking in the door, but each of them receives extensive training in the production process in order to maintain Mark’s vision for every individual piece.

“It’s exciting,” Mark says, still seeming struck by the beauty of the process of designing, forming and firing even after all these years. “It’s right on the edge of chaos.”

But to the layperson’s eye, nothing about the scene at the production studio seems chaotic. People of all ethnicities, ages and backgrounds work quietly, whether they’re sponging or firing, many of them with earbuds popped in so they can listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts. Their work is accompanied by glances, smiles, nods of the head. The whole scene feels peaceful, thoughtful and grounded.

But it didn’t always feel that way to Chris, company president and co-founder, who I found after he stepped out of the office and gave me a tour around the showroom, where I immediately picked out two 10-ounce tapered mugs to take home. Chris had worked with clay since high school before forging a career as a corporate tax accountant in Jacksonville, Florida, where he often worked 80-hour weeks. It was on a trip to visit Mark in the dilapidated farmhouse that Chris truly considered reconnecting with his early passion for pottery. Mark pitched the idea of the two of them starting a business together; it ended up being an easy decision for Chris.

But those early days, rooming at the farmhouse with Mark while working in an outdoor studio took their toll on Chris, who quickly realized the differences between plowing through a 16-hour day behind a desk and the physicality of clearing brush to create more outdoor space, moving boxes of finished pieces, making phone calls and filling purchase orders.

“Moving into that house in the woods was a totally transformative experience for me,” Chris says. “I imagine that people were having thoughts like, ‘Has Chris lost it a little bit? Is he going a little crazy? He left a job he worked so hard for.’ I really looked up to Mark and relied on him to kind of show me what this new life was like.

“But I definitely remember being in the studio by myself one day and the lights were off, and it was dark. I had a real big moment of existential dread, and I thought, have I made a terrible mistake?”

For Chris, after both the success of the company and his continued friendship with Mark, those moments of uncertainty are fewer and farther between. “I’m so passionate about what we’re making,” he says.

While Mark and Chris’ primitive way of living has changed since their days on the farm, the way they make their pottery has not.

“We haven’t changed the production method at all,” Chris says. “We’ve certainly refined it and gotten better at doing things, but if you were to have been there with us at the farmhouse and walked through how we made a pot, and then you were to walk through the way we do it now, you would see there are no fundamental changes. We can make things more efficiently, but it’s still a handmade mold, we pour the clay in, we pour the clay out, we finish it, we fire it, we glaze it, fire it again, and it’s done. The process is the same.”


Their friendship is the same too.

“Mark has just always been an incredibly fun person to be friends with,” Chris says. “I think it’s a blessing for both of us to have been such good friends before the business because having a business is hard, and it can really, really be difficult on every level, whether it’s financially, physically, emotionally or spiritually. Mark has always had my back, always been there for me, and always supported me.”

It’s clear that Mark has felt the same about Chris for years. “When you meet someone like Chris, you just kind of know them in totality. Chris is one of those people that if you know him it would be inconceivable not to want to be friends with him afterward.”

“And Mark was hilarious in high school,” Chris says, laughing. “I remember him showing up to a prom party at my house. He was a sophomore, so he wasn’t even invited to the prom.”

“Please tell me he showed up in a tuxedo,” I said.

“I think it was one of those T-shirts that has a tuxedo printed on it,” Chris says.

“It was,” Mark adds, the sudden recollection causing them both to break into laughter. “And I brought a beer bong that I’d bought on a German Club trip to Daytona Beach. It had never been used before, and I was like, ‘Let’s see how this works.’”

“That’ll be the next thing that Haand manufactures,” I say. “Ceramic beer bongs.”

“There’s a lot of demand for that,” Chris adds, and we all laugh again.

When you visit Haand or order any of their pieces online to be delivered to you, you will immediately recognize the care and attention that Mark and Chris have put into their craft. And when you spend any amount of time around Haand’s co-founders, you will say the same for their friendship.

Come for the kiln-fired pottery. Stay for the warmth.  PS

Wiley Cash is the Alumni Author-in-Residence at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. His new novel, When Ghosts Come Home, is available wherever books are sold.



The Missing Consonant

An extra letter can speak volumes

By Amberly Glitz Weber

Growing up in a military family, frequent moves ensured I never felt quite comfortable with the question “Where are you from?” But I could always tell you where my mother’s people lived. Every other winter, we traveled from wherever we were living up North to find my grandparents’ North Carolina ranch bursting into bloom, a front porch heavy with camellias as the longleaf pines stretched up into the blue.

The adventure started as soon as we touched down at the airport in Greensboro. Bringing with us an eau de oddity, my twin sister and I were both delighted and impressed that the shuttle bus played country music on the speakers, as we peeled off sweaters and coats in what, to us, was balmy summer weather.

I always felt a little foreign in this vacation land. “Bless their hearts,” my aunt once said, “they sound just like little Yankees.” I remember conspiring with my sister to fake an accent in the Goody’s checkout line, just to see if we could pass. We were sure our mangled, mostly Chicagoan syllables made us stick out, blatant as — in those days — Wingate’s solo stoplight. I pity any cashier who had to endure the performance.

Our speech marked us even more than our shorts in January, so different from the magic and strange mystery of the voices we heard in Rockingham and Hamlet. Not voices with the refined husk of Tara, but a warm, earthy accent that found space for an extra “R” in water — right after the “A” — turning the syllables round and deep in my grandfather’s mouth.

Today, I’m a proud Aberdeen homeowner, and my first daughter’s birth at UNC-Chapel Hill earns her Tarheel status. Already my husband and I detect a hint of the South in her speech. Sometimes it’s so strong we think she must be putting us on — or is she? I doubt it will ever reach the height of my granddad’s drawl, his gravelly voice ever saying in my memory, “Come here an’ gimme some sugar.” It was a voice grown in Carolina, on a farm of many children and countless passing farm hands working the land.

We won’t be moving again, not for a long while. How strange to think that as they grow, my babies’ answer to the question that plagued my childhood will be “from here.” Now, on my daily commute or a mundane dash for groceries, pine trees piercing the Carolina blue sky give me a sense of holiday adventure, no matter the calendar. Here, the camellias burst into bloom in weeks where other ZIP codes are buried in snow. And, though I love this busy life and my once-little town — I find myself missing that extra “R” in water.  PS

Aberdeen resident Amberly Glitz Weber is an Army veteran and freelance writer. She’s grateful for every minute among the murmuring pines of North Carolina.

Out of the Blue

Creators of N.C.

Kittyspeak 101

When a look says it all

By Deborah Salomon

Welcome, once again, to the annual January kitty column — the ninth, I believe.

I am a lifelong animal lover/advocate. All are welcome except foxes and coyotes. Once I kept a caged snake in the garage for my son’s friend while he was at summer camp. I cannot count how many forlorn, destitute kitties have come to my door, instinctively knowing they would be fed, adopted, cared for, loved.

The all-black ones with kind, intelligent eyes are my weakness.

Like Lucky, who showed up in 2011. He had been neutered, declawed and abandoned when his family moved. After feeding him outside for weeks I opened the door. He strolled into my house, my heart. A year later a pudgy half-tabby with a clipped ear signaling a spayed feral began hanging around for handouts. She rewarded me with hisses. I couldn’t ignore her limp so I opened the door. Lucky — who doesn’t have an aggressive bone in his panther-esque body — just stared, stoically. The half-tabby hissed at us both for about a week, then turned on the charm. Now Hissy Missy anchors my lap as I write, leans against my leg when I sleep, and treats Lucky like Meghan Markle does Prince Harry.

In public, at least.

Though intelligence-wise, she’s a dozen Rorschach ink blots beneath him — I should have named him Mensa — they each communicate, ask, answer, demand, complain in subtle, non-verbal, kittyspeak.

I remember seeing an interview of Academy Award actress Kate Winslet, who spoke of a director who criticized how she delivered a line. “Don’t worry, I can say it with my eyes,” Winslet snapped. My Lucky’s huge yellow eyes speak reams, convey a range of emotions: contentment, questioning, fear, acquiescence, warning and, rarely, displeasure. He lacks a loud purr, but stretched out across my lap, his dreamy eyes convey love. If I’m gone for too long I sense reprimand. As feeding time approaches his stare becomes an urgent frown. When the doorbell rings, his eyes warn.

But sometimes eye-talk isn’t enough.

A paw reinforces his query. I feel black velvet stroke my foot as I work on the computer. Pause. Repeat. If no response, a slight mew. I rise, he turns and leads me to his bowl, the back or front doors. Impossible to ignore the polite but insistent paw at 3 a.m. Lucky knows I keep treats in the bedside table.

So does Missy, but she wouldn’t dare.

Lucky also displays a heightened awareness of his surroundings. I broke my wrist recently. When I appeared wearing a cast Lucky was all over it, licking. Did he feel my pain? Was he expressing sympathy or just curiosity?

Missy is more self-absorbed. In fine weather (her definition of temp/humidity) she likes to sit on the back porch table and watch the birds and squirrels nibble peanut butter sandwiches. While Lucky dozes on a chair she remains alert for danger. Like blue jays.

Missy’s maddening method of getting my attention is circling my feet, often resulting in a stepped-on tail. She never learns.

The best is watching them communicate with each other via long, penetrating stares. At least once a day she washes his face. Play may be beneath Lucky’s solemn countenance, but she occasionally shadowboxes — tabby vs. the sphinx. Other than that, Missy defers to him in all matters.

A glass ceiling-smashing bra-burner this gal is not.

I need an animal relationship. Through the years this has been fulfilled by dogs, cats and my children’s pets who knew my home as their own. As for folks who brand kitties cold, aloof and mean, let me remind you that an animal companion often reflects its master’s personality/behavior.

True, I’m neither dignified nor stoic like Lucky. Not a Missy flibbertigibbet either. But at least, day in, day out, through thick and thin, rain or shine, we speak the same language.  PS

Deborah Salomon is a contributing writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She may be reached at

Golftown Journal

Golftown Journal

Strange Magic

Doubling your Sandhills pleasure

By Lee Pace

Photograph: Curtis (left) & Allan (right)

Whether it was Curtis in the 1970s winning the North & South Amateur or Allan today tootling around the village of Pinehurst, for nearly half a century the Sandhills have been close to the hearts of the Strange brothers.

“Pinehurst was just a place you fell in love with,” says Curtis Strange, the two-time U.S. Open champion. “Some of my proudest moments were some of the scores I shot on Pinehurst No. 2 back in college.”

“It’s just a great place to get away to,” adds identical twin Allan, a financial adviser living in Richmond, Virginia. “At first I knew Pinehurst just for the golf. But the more I got to know the village and the people, the stronger the draw became.”

Curtis and Allan were born in 1955 in Virginia Beach and were introduced to golf at 7 years of age by their father, Tom, a club professional and owner of White Sands Country Club. Tom also found time to play in six U.S. Opens, his best finish a tie for 48th in 1967 at Baltusrol.

“In our house, the U.S. Open always meant a great deal,” Curtis says. “Arnold Palmer told me a long time ago the Open is the hardest test in golf, and it should be, because it’s our national championship.”

Curtis joined coach Jesse Haddock’s juggernaut program at Wake Forest University, and Allan played at East Tennessee State. Curtis was a three-time All-American from 1973-75, won the 1974 NCAA individual title, and teamed with Jay Haas to lead the Deacons to team titles in 1974 and ’75.

With legendary caddie Fletcher Gaines at his side, Strange won the 1975 North & South Amateur by shaving defending champion George Burns, then followed with the 1976 crown by handily ousting Fred Ridley, now the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.

“Fletcher and I had a lot of fun,” Strange says. “He was a great help. I really got to know No. 2 with Fletcher. Playing those greens requires a lot of local knowledge. Back then, I was just kind of booming it. I didn’t have much management or strategy on the golf course. I would hit it long and go chase it. Fletcher tried to condense that strength and manage me around. He did a great job. He read all my putts.

“I shot some really good scores and hit a lot of good shots there. When you go to a place like Pinehurst and do well, it means so much more than winning on a golf course no one’s ever heard of. My name will be on that plaque in the clubhouse for a long time.”

Strange exploded on the PGA Tour in the mid-to-late 1980s, winning back-to-back U.S. Opens in 1988-89 and eight events total from 1987-89, and his $1.1 million prize winnings in 1988 marked the first time a pro golfer had topped the $1 million mark for a single season. He played on five Ryder Cup teams and captained the 2002 United States team. In the twilight of his career, he has worked as a TV commentator and now spends considerable time fishing from his homes in Morehead City, North Carolina, and Naples, Florida, and pursuing various philanthropic endeavors. 

He’s made periodic trips to Pinehurst over the years, and in August 2022 he got a look at the construction site for the USGA’s new Golf House Pinehurst between the club and Carolina Hotel. On the second floor of that facility, the USGA is designating space for the World Golf Hall of Fame — Curtis was inducted in 2007 — which will move from St. Augustine, Florida.

“I’m so happy and thrilled with what the USGA is doing, building kind of a home away from home in Pinehurst,” Curtis says. “Add to that, the Hall of Fame is coming back to where it started. Everyone has their golf mecca. Ours is Pinehurst. The USGA . . . the Hall of Fame . . . Pinehurst No. 2 . . . it seems like a perfect fit.”

Allan, meanwhile, has taken a more circuitous route to find his own golf nirvana in the Sandhills.

He, too, played in the North & South in the 1970s, in the Pinehurst Intercollegiate with East Tennessee State, and then in the Hall of Fame Classic on the PGA Tour in the early 1980s. Then he entered private business in wealth management and eventually got his amateur status back. Throughout his working career in Richmond, he’d visit Pinehurst every half-dozen years or so.

“My wife and I had a place at Smith Mountain Lake, and after 10 or 12 years, that was kind of getting old,” he says. “We started looking at places within easy driving distance. I said, ‘Let’s go visit Pinehurst.’ She just loved the small town look and feel of the village. So did I. We came a second time. And third. The pull was pretty strong.”

Allan was also a friend of Ziggy Zalzneck, a longtime member at the Country Club of North Carolina and former club president. Over frequent visits to the Zalzneck residence at CCNC, he seriously considered joining the club. It came together about a decade ago with the Stranges buying the Liscombe Lodge on Linden Road, the winter home years ago for Gen. George Marshall, the U.S. Army’s chief of staff during World War II and later the secretary of defense and secretary of state.

“So it just kind of evolved — a home in the village and a membership at CCNC,” Allan says. “I have loved being here. The glue, of course, is the golf, but if I got old enough where I couldn’t play anymore, I’d still enjoy the village.”

Allan is a regular at CCNC and various restaurants around town, and often draws a double take, just as he did around airports in the 1980s and early ’90s when Curtis was at the height of his popularity. The twins have long shared similar body compositions, salt-and-pepper hair and facial features.

“More than a few times I’ve been asked, ‘That’s Curtis Strange, isn’t it?’” longtime CCNC Director of Golf Jeff Dotson says of Allan’s visits to the club.

“I’ve signed plenty of autographs when it’s a kid who might be disappointed if I told him I wasn’t actually the U.S. Open champion,” Allan says. “It was probably more than you could imagine. But I was fine with it. It meant Curtis was playing well and winning.”

The Strange brothers talk by phone almost daily and participated in the Patriot Foundation Pro-Am at CCNC in August 2022. They played golf with veterans and service personnel, drank a few beers and raised money for scholarships for children of parents who had lost their lives in service. Allan came away impressed with his brother’s demeanor and station in life.

“We spent two days together and I saw firsthand that Curtis was more relaxed than he’s ever been,” Allan says. “He’s enjoying life as much as he ever did, but in a totally different way. The enjoyment he had in the ’80s was pressure packed, it was climbing the mountain. Now it’s totally different, now he’s coming down the other side. I didn’t really know what this side would be like for him. He enjoys his family; he enjoys getting on the water every day that he can. He’s philanthropic in a private, quiet way. And he still pays very close attention to what is going on in golf.

“I wasn’t sure if he could enjoy this as much as he does. It makes me feel good.”

The Strange brothers will turn 68 in late January 2023. Look for them in body and spirit around the village — Curtis in name among the champions displayed in Heritage Hall at Pinehurst and perhaps even in person visiting his brother.

“I’ve seen Curtis more now because I’ve had a place in Pinehurst for eight or nine years, which is a nice unintended consequence,” Allan says. “It’s interesting how it all fell into place, starting with Curtis’ love of Pinehurst and success here. “I don’t think I’ll ever not have a second home in Pinehurst.”  PS

Lee Pace is a Chapel Hill-based golf writer and a long-time contributor to PineStraw magazine. His latest book is Good Walks—Rediscovering the Soul of Golf at 18 Top Carolinas Courses, published by UNC Press.

Focus on Food

Focus on Food

You, Me, Après-Ski

The art of smørrebrød

Story and Photograph by Rose Shewey

From St. Moritz to Sugar Mountain, after-ski traditions are as varied as the topography of the mountains themselves. You might find yourself in a tavern with sticky floors, communal tables and craft brews on tap, or you might lounge on a secluded sun deck draped in a wool blanket, overlooking picturesque hillsides. Whatever your situation, one thing is for sure: After a day’s vigorous outdoor activity in the frosty cold, you will be in the market for some serious chow. Move over, moringa smoothies and açaí bowls, this is a job for pickled herring, Alpine fries, potato rösti, cheese fondue and goulash soup.

Or, for the culinary adventurous and fellow Scandiphiles, wander off the beaten path and explore the rich and colorful world of smørrebrød. The possibilities are endless, but let’s start with the basics: Take a slice of freshly baked rye bread, spread butter on it and layer with smoked, pickled or fresh meat or fish, then balance out flavors and textures with spreads, cheese, herbs, veggies or fruit.

Smørrebrød literally translates from Danish to “butter bread.” It is always open-faced and iconic in all of Scandinavia and many parts of Europe, and for good reason. While other European countries have similar traditions (Germans love their “Brotzeit”), there is something rather intriguing about the Danish version of it.

There are some rules to observe (or deliberately ignore), but hands-down, the most important one is: Smørrebrød needs to be appealing to the eye, even sexy. It’s an art form and, at its best, it draws you in with appetizing compositions of fresh (or freshly preserved) ingredients, a mixture of colors and carefully curated garnishes. In Denmark, entire restaurants have dedicated themselves to creating the most enticing open-faced sandwiches with artisan ingredients. For an authentic experience, eat with a fork and a knife and never, under the penalty of public ridicule, fold your smørrebrød to eat as a sandwich.

Bizarre, but true: In Denmark, you can become a “smørrebrødsjomfru” — literally, a “butter bread maiden,” which is a recognized three-year apprenticeship and qualifies you to work in respected restaurants as a smørrebrød chef. While this culinary heritage became less popular sometime during the second half of the 20th century, it is now experiencing a renaissance, and not just in Denmark. More often these days, you will find smørrebrød on the menu of après-ski locations around Europe as a nourishing, wholesome meal option. While this delicacy is a year-round offering, it has special appeal during the winter months, particularly to those who like to eat in-season as it is an excellent reason to raid your root cellar for all things smoked and pickled.


Rollmops, Egg and Beet Smørrebrød   (Serves 2)

3/4 cup pickled red beets, drained

1/2 cup sour cream

1-2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, or to taste

2 slices rye bread

A handful leafy greens (e.g., arugula)

2 rollmops (pickled or salted herring)

2 boiled eggs, halved or sliced

1 small apple, sliced

2 tablespoons capers

Red onion, thinly sliced

Chives or sprouts for garnish

Combine red beets, sour cream and horseradish in a food processor and blend until you have a smooth cream. Spread a generous layer of red beet cream on the slices of bread, add leafy greens, rollmops, eggs, apple slices, capers and onions and arrange to your liking. Sprinkle with chives and serve right away.   PS

German native Rose Shewey is a food stylist and food photographer. To see more of her work visit her website,



January is a creation story.

It begins with the wrinkled hands of a grandmother — perhaps your own grandmother — in the darkest hour of morning.

The wise woman knows the secrets of this barren season. She’s found warmth in the bone-chilling air; comfort in the aching silence; promise in the dwindling pulse of winter. When the frozen earth has nothing left to give, she reaches for the mother dough — the breath of life — then steadies herself for the tedious ritual.

The mother dough is a myth of its own: a wild yeast kept bubbling since the dawn of time. The grandmother feeds it once more — a bit of flour, a bit of water — then walks away. 

Breadmaking is a dance of time and space.

Tonight, she’ll make the leaven. Tomorrow, the dough. The rest is as crucial as the work.

At first light, a nuthatch sings its rhythmic song. Grandmother washes her ancient hands, folds the dough four times over, then lets it sit.

Two, three, four — sit.

Two, three, four — sit.

Again. And, again. And, again.

The hours tick by. The dough rises. The grandmother hums as she dusts the work surface. 

Creation is a process. After she shapes and scores the loaves, she bakes and cools them. Neither bread nor spring can be rushed. Such is the wisdom of this bitter season. Such is the wisdom of the grandmother.


Year of the Rabbit

The Lunar New Year begins on Sunday, Jan. 22. Goodbye, tiger. Hello, rabbit.

Considered the luckiest animal in the Chinese zodiac, the rabbit is a calm and gentle creature known for its grace, compassion and ability to take swift action. Those born in rabbit years are said to embody these desirable traits. Never mind their fickle nature and escapist tendencies.

But what does the Year of the Water Rabbit have in store for the whole fluffle (yes, that means bunch) of us? 

Some say peace. Some say hope. The rabbits in the yard suggest more rabbits.


Anyone who thinks gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year, for gardening begins in January with a dream.   — Josephine Nuese


The Blank Canvas

January is for dreaming. Every gardener knows that. Fetch the sketch pad. Reflect on last year’s highs and lows. Ask what your garden is missing.

This frosty month of seed catalogs and new beginnings, allow yourself to think outside the planter box. Or inside, if that’s your preference.

Is yours a kitchen garden? Butterfly garden? Purely ornamental?

Suppose you added more fragrance. Snowdrops in the springtime. Aromatic herbs in summer. Chrysanthemums in autumn. Honeysuckle and jasmine woven in between.

Color outside the lines. After all, nature does it all the time.   PS

Ready to Ride

Ready to Ride

A French feel in the Sandhills

By Deborah Salomon


Credit James Boyd, and mild winters, for enticing foxhunters to Moore County. Eventually, some branched out to eventing, dressage, jumping. The Walthour-Moss Foundation furthered the equestrian cause. Soon horse people from Northeastern cities began wintering their steeds in Southern Pines, accessible by rail and so much closer than Florida. They built small apartments — “hunt boxes” — over the barns, graduating to year-round estates.

This tight-knit community created and maintained an active social life. Their houses, located between Connecticut Avenue and Youngs Road, grew bigger, better equipped and less rustic. Positioned near the top of this heap is the retirement home of Chris and Sallie Lowe, 5,000-plus square feet styled à la French chateau, on 10 grassy acres sloping to a pond.

In the barn (with tack room), two stall doors are topped with wrought metal. A full-sized dressage arena borders split-rail pasture fences while a row of tall, thick elaeagnus bushes separates the chateau from a narrow private road.

Sallie rides the horse, Chris rides the tractor, which has its own garage. Both are Virginians by way of Vermont.

How this happened could be a story written by Boyd himself, or maybe his buddy Thomas Wolfe.


Most equestriennes start young. Not Sallie. Her parents, suspicious of the lifestyle, guided her into high school sports, where at 6 feet tall and athletic, she excelled. In 2011, now married, a mother and teacher living in Vermont but hating the cold winters, she won a trip to Southern Pines at a fundraiser. “This is it,” she decided, after driving around. “This is where I want to spend the rest of our lives.”

No problem for Chris, who dubbed her adult riding quest “keeping Sallie sane.” In 2011 they bought a property close to town but with “a country feel,” and rented a place during construction . . . of what?

A year spent in France left its mark on Sallie. She looked for an architect who would interpret her ideas rather than imposing current trends. Research led her to Designing Your Perfect House and other titles by William Hirsch. Perfect! Imagine Sallie’s surprise, discovering that the internationally lauded architect and author lives in Seven Lakes. Chris, whose father was a contractor, worked happily alongside builder Mark Lally’s crew.

Sallie presented Hirsch with some unusual requests. She had learned that authentic provincial chateaux are not grand at all, but rather informal country homes, sometimes with animals occupying the lower floor. “I’m not a fan of big open spaces,” she says. As a result, the main floor, although enormous, is a succession of moderately sized rooms — workroom, kitchen, sunroom, dining room with unusually small round table and large lazy Susan, living room, all with arches opening onto a 90-foot loggia (front hallway) with white travertine floor blocks arranged randomly.

At one end of the loggia, a triple garage; at the other, the master suite. Windows everywhere, allowing unobstructed pasture vistas to become part of the decor. Quimper pottery, made in Brittany for 300 years, hangs from the walls. Paintings depict Parisian scenes. A massive antique French armoire approaching the 9-foot ceiling dominates the master bedroom. Laundry equipment is part of his-and-hers dressing rooms.

“The mother in me needed a room for each son,” Sallie admits. They have three — two are married, one with a grandson — all accommodated upstairs, which includes a guest apartment with sitting room, bedroom, kitchenette and one of five bathrooms which are bright and attractive but hardly spas. 

A French chateau doesn’t do spas.

The French experience also influenced Sallie’s palette, with yellow coming out the winner — not lemon or daffodil but a muted hue, perhaps butter diluted with crème fraîche, or a silky béchamel. This hue covers exterior walls with contrasting purplish-blue shutters and, surprisingly, the footed kitchen cabinets.


Ah, the kitchen, showplace of the American luxury home. Sallie wasn’t interested in sterile white or professional-grade appliances; more important to her, a backsplash composed of weathered, hand-painted tiles in colors and motifs that continue the European country chic feel. Chris points proudly to the top of a Vermont sugar maple chopping-block table inserted into the island. “It’s from my parents’ home. When I was young I would sit on it and talk to them.”

Furnishings combine antiques with spotlight pieces. In the living room, a coffee table contrived from twisted vines is topped by a toile tray, and a pair of oversized, heavily tufted slipper chairs face two Asian lamps made from tea canisters. In the sunroom the drawer of a game table, from Sallie’s lineage, holds a Washington Post front page dated 1882.

“We’re not super-formal,” Sallie concludes, “but we give plenty of dinner parties with china and crystal. I wasn’t ready to give that up.”

Not your ordinary horse farm, even in an area known for elaborate installations. “I knew what I wanted and I held my ground,” Sallie says. Meaning custom-designed and custom-built, right down to the baseboards. Geothermal heating and cooling. A courtyard covered with pebbles, not grass. Splintery decorative ceiling beams from the Amish. A sweet rescue pup named Gracie. Outbuildings — one containing Chris’ man cave — that complement, but don’t detract from the main house which, sadly, Sallie and Chris never got around to naming.

How about Pièce de Résistance?  PS

PinePitch January 2023

PinePitch January 2023

Movie Music

Let the sound of music sweep you off your feet at BPAC’s Owens Auditorium as The Carolina Philharmonic performs The Storytellers, an evening of music from the movies — including behind the scenes interviews — on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 7:30 p.m., 3395 Airport Road, Pinehurst. Info: (910) 687-0287 or


Cloth, Canvas & Clay

Make this your year of art appreciation with a visit to the Arts Council of Moore County’s January/February exhibit, “Cloth, Canvas & Clay.” The show features paintings and pottery in addition to works by members of the Sandhills Quilters Guild. The opening night soiree is Friday, Jan. 6, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The exhibit runs through Feb. 15 at the Campbell House Galleries, 482 East Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines. For more info:


Southern Suspense

Kelly Mustian will read from her sensational debut novel, The Girls in the Stilt House, at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities, 555 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines. Written by a former Weymouth writer-in-residence, The Girls in the Stilt House is a beautiful and harrowing tale of murder, bootlegging, greed and the unlikely partnership of two teenage girls in 1920s Mississippi. For info go to


Run with the Wolves

Join the bestselling duo of James Patterson and Mike Lupica as they discuss their new book, The House of Wolves. Catch all the ins and outs of this whodunnit where the plot thickens when the murder of a billionaire patriarch triggers a bloody battle for control of his empire. The bestselling authors will be at BPAC’s Owens Auditorium on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 6:30 p.m., 3395 Airport Road, Pinehurst. Info and tickets:


Barbershop Brigade

Form up for the North Carolina Harmony Brigade’s 29th Annual Harmony Extravaganza. This elite group of barbershop singers from the United States, Canada and Europe come together to share their love of singing one weekend per year, so get your tickets for Saturday, Jan. 14. Show time is 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Lee Auditorium at Pinecrest High School, 205 Voit Gilmore Lane, Southern Pines. For info and tickets go to


Books on Broad

The Country Bookshop welcomes Brad Taylor on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. to discuss The Devil’s Ransom, the newest addition to his Pike Logan series. A 21-year veteran of the U.S. Army Infantry and Special Forces, retired Lt. Col. Brad Taylor has written 16 New York Times bestsellers. Sure to be no exception, this latest installment hits shelves only 12 days before you sit down with the author. The Country Bookshop, 140 N.W. Broad St., Southern Pines. Info and tickets:


Just for Laughs

Whether taking on relationships, his Italian-American family or current events, comedian Joe DeVito’s dead-on timing, unexpected twists and sheer flights of lunacy make him a favorite at the top clubs in New York City — and now BPAC. On Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. enjoy the laughs at the Owens Auditorium, 3395 Airport Road, Pinehurst. Info and tickets: