Winter Stews

On a cold winter’s night, wrap your hands around a bowl and you will begin to understand why these hearty one-pot meals have sustained people in the South for centuries

By Jane Lear

A stew, with its deep, soulful flavor and intoxicating aroma, is a stellar example of what can happen when household economy meets benign neglect. The main ingredient is often an inexpensive cut of meat, and it is perfectly comfortable on a back burner while you tend to other things. A stew offers comfort and sustenance, makes a great party dish since it’s at its best when prepared ahead, and ranges from homey (chicken and dumplings) to haute (boeuf bourguignon).

The term stew, by the way, generally refers to a mixture simmered until it makes its own thick sauce. The technique is an unhurried, transformative one that results in a spoon-friendly meal that is far more than the sum of its parts.

Beyond that, though, things get murky. It’s difficult to separate stews from bogs, burgoos, chowders, gumbos, hashes, muddles, mulls and purloos, and frankly, I don’t want to even try. What distinguishes them all in my book is that they are thoughtful, unpretentious and highly adaptable to seasonal ingredients or the contents of your larder. And given our increased appetite for global flavors, the Persian chicken stew called fesenjan (with walnuts and pomegranate seeds), a Mexican posole (pork, hominy, and chiles), a Moroccan tagine (lamb, prunes and apricots), or a Brazilian feijoada (black beans, bacon and chorizo) are well within the reach of any home cook with access to a good supermarket.

One of the most famous Southern contributions to the genre is Brunswick stew. The standard line is that it originated in Brunswick County, Virginia, on a hunting trip in 1828, when Dr. Creed Haskins’s black camp cook, Jimmy Matthews, made a squirrel stew bolstered with onions, stale bread and seasonings.

This provenance is hotly debated among aficionados in Brunswick County, Georgia, and Brunswick County, North Carolina. And let’s face it, it seems reasonable to presume that Native Americans in the region were concocting stews of wild game long before anyone else arrived on the scene. “In that sense,” wrote John Egerton in his masterful Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History, “there was Brunswick stew before there was a Brunswick.”

These days, the squirrel in Brunswick stew has been displaced by chicken or other domesticated meats, and additions include a highly peppered melange of vegetables such as onions, potatoes, tomatoes, butter beans and corn. I tend to prefer it with rabbit or chicken, and even though the meat is traditionally shredded into long strands, keeping it in bite-size chunks makes a nice contrast with the tender vegetables.

There are many other renowned stews to be found in the South, including the burgoo of Kentucky (similar to Brunswick, it’s unique in its use of mutton or lamb); the terrapin stew of Maryland and the Eastern Shore of Virginia; oyster stew, which you’ll find all along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts; and Pine Bark Stew, which is said to have originated along the Pee Dee River near Florence, South Carolina, in the 1700s. The true origin of the name is lost in the mists of time — there are as many hypotheses as there are recipes — but the dark brown stew incorporates freshwater fish such as bass, trout or bream into a flavorful slurry of bacon, potatoes, onions, tomatoes (sometimes in the form of canned soup and/or catsup) and often curry powder.

And then there is the Frogmore stew of South Carolina and Georgia. Named after an old sea island settlement and sometimes called Beaufort stew or a seafood or Lowcountry boil, this  crowd-pleasing jumble of shrimp, spicy smoked link sausage, corn on the cob, and often crab and potatoes is at home anywhere on the southeast Atlantic coast. Frogmore stew is eaten differently than other stews: After the ingredients are boiled, they’re drained before being heaped on a large platter and typically served outside on newspaper-covered tables, with an abundant supply of beer and wine. In other words, what is not to love?

A favorite stew of mine is one that does not have a Southern provenance, but it sure is good, and can be easily cobbled together for a weeknight supper or casual evening with friends. The star of the show is escarole, a type of endive that at first glance looks much like a loose head of lettuce. Although the leaves turn a bit drab in color when cooked, don’t let that deter you. They also become supple and succulent, and their pleasant bitterness plays beautifully with two humble, often unsung ingredients: white beans and Italian sausage. This stew is a happy reminder that the word thrift is often a synonym for delicious. And if you’ve been wanting to incorporate more beans and greens into your diet, it’s a great place to start.

Escarole, White Bean and Sausage Stew

Serves 4 to 6 (the recipe can easily be doubled)

Like so much of my culinary repertoire, this stew hearkens back to my years at Gourmet magazine, where it was a staff favorite. The recipe was originally from American Brasserie, a cookbook by Chicago chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand, and the only embellishments you need are a loaf of crusty bread and, for after, a crunchy green salad. If I can’t find escarole for some reason, I stir in leftover cooked kale, collards or other pot greens. And although diced plum tomatoes add freshness, color and a hit of acidity, if you can’t find good ones, then leave them out. If you’re fortunate enough to have leftovers, a spoonful or two makes a good topping for crostini.

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling over finished stew

1 pound bulk Italian sausage (sweet and/or hot), broken into bite-size pieces

About 5 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 head escarole, washed, trimmed, and cut into 2-inch pieces

3 cups cooked or canned white beans such as great northern or navy (drained and rinsed if canned)

3 cups chicken broth

1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into a few pieces

1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for sprinkling over finished stew

2 plum tomatoes, diced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Coarse salt and freshly ground fresh pepper

Heat the oil in a deep large skillet or other heavy wide pot over moderately high heat until hot. Brown the sausage, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, then cook, stirring, just until garlic is softened, a minute or so. Add the escarole and cook, turning with tongs, until wilted. (You can add the escarole in batches if necessary, depending on the size and depth of your pot.)

Add the beans and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a gentle boil. (You can make the stew ahead up to this point. Let it cool completely, uncovered, before refrigerating, covered. Then reheat before continuing.)

Stir in the butter, tomatoes, and about half the parsley, then cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the stew is hot. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the stew into warmed bowls and sprinkle with remaining parsley. Serve with olive oil and Parmesan.  PS

The former senior articles editor at Gourmet magazine, food writer Jane Lear has been based in New York for 30-odd years. There are some relatives in Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia who believe she is still going through a phase after college.

Portrait of the Artist’s Home

A place where nothing matches but everything belongs

By Deborah Salomon     Photographs by John Gessner

There’s something about Jessie Mackay’s house . . .

Outside, distressed bricks melt into the wooded 2-acre lot rather than jumping out onto the road that winds through Country Club of North Carolina.

Its contents — fewer heirlooms than souvenirs of a life well-traveled — begin their story in the soaring front hall, where hats hang on a coat tree:

“I wore the pith helmet when we rode horseback across Malawi into Zambia,” Jessie begins. Beneath the hats stand boots; Wellingtons speak of her life on a farm in the Cotswolds. On a campaign chest are arranged antique watch faces and a pipe picked up in France, a carved box from Hong Kong and cavalry spurs used by an ancestor. In the corner, a weathered Old Glory leans beside a Union Jack, affirming her dual citizenship. Although fascinating, these artifacts pale beside the paintings — everywhere: her own, those of friends, family members and fellow artists. Some, like a vibrant purple abstract by an Ecuadorian painter positioned on the upstairs gallery wall, attracted her purely for its color.

Jessie grew up in Westport, Connecticut, bordering Manhattan art and culture. She recalls attending a Van Gogh exhibit at the Guggenheim every day, “until (the staff) didn’t want to charge me admission.” Her British parents were casual painters. Jessie might have felt an inclination but, instead, followed a career in consultant management, which included measuring behaviors and results to enhance the workplace environment.

Well, Gauguin sailed with the merchant marines and Cézanne studied law.

Jessie dabbled a bit in high school. “After getting married I wanted something on the walls.” Her first inspiration came watching laborers in a British steel mill, admiring their physicality. The result, hanging in the living room, recalls grim early 20th century factory scenes immortalized by American artist Thomas Hart Benton.

Otherwise, Jessie identifies with Fauvism (think Matisse, its practitioner), defined, in part, as color existing as an independent element — intense blobs of it, rather than within finely drawn lines. “I felt painting was an outlet, a meditative thing,” she says. Not until early middle age did she make art her career. Her first show in Atlanta sold out. Her debut at Campbell House Galleries in Southern Pines moved 13 paintings, more than double the average.

Life, marriages, careers, activism took Jessie to various houses in many countries. In 2008 she was alone in Pinehurst, looking to downsize. Her first impression of the CCNC saltbox built in 1982: “Brick, ugly roof, sad, a mess inside.” Yet its bones and cross-hall two-story layout reminded her of New England while her design skills promised improvement. She and builder Buddy Tunstall made plans. First, the exterior. The painter had never done peeling brick, so they tried the obvious: spray with white paint, follow immediately with a pressure washing. Jessie recalls how the workmen laughed.

But it worked. So did the bright yellow door, the circular drive and informal landscaping. Back acreage, fenced for Jessie’s Jack Russell terriers, appears delightfully wild in the weak winter sun.

Inside, carpet was replaced by hardwood. Bathrooms needed remodeling — one in charming green toile wallpaper with graceful bureau-turned-washstand — but the three upstairs bedrooms remained intact.

Not so the main floor. Jessie decided to tear out several small rooms spanning the rear, including a dated kitchen, install an extra support beam and repurpose the space as her studio (with bay window), a long galley kitchen and small den with wood-burning fireplace. This was accomplished without dividers. The kitchen is beyond startling, since a guest walking through might not realize its purpose. On one side, an oven, a single-width refrigerator and cooktop niche are embedded in a brick wall. A polished harvest table used as both work island and seating is positioned down the middle with cabinets, drawers, sink, another bay window crowded with plants on the opposite side.

In the spring, a dogwood tree blooms just outside the bay.

“It reminds me of Europe — a lot of stuff, a lot going on,” Jessie explains. The brick provides a textured background for paintings, including the portrait of a friend dominating the south-facing studio with two easels, paints, brushes, stool and a portable typewriter. Locating her workspace adjoining the kitchen made sense. “I didn’t want to allocate a bedroom for a studio.”

Her office and laundry room line the hallway leading to the garage with doors not visible from the front.

Jesse misses her dogs, cats, horses and other creatures from what she called The Farm of Content Animals, since none of the ducks, chickens, geese, lambs or cows entered the food chain. Bovine portraits hang over the den fireplace, flanked by English corner chairs with leather seats and open sides to accommodate the sabers worn by officers.

Jessie courts a lived-in look. “Everything (these days) seems so contrived — a blanket draped just so over the couch,” she says, and points to a woolly throw in disarray on her own. “The dogs made that pile,” before falling asleep on it.

Jessie found the small living room both appealing and functional — especially after constructing bookcases across an entire wall. Half shutters on low-set windows continue the New England effect, although furnishings speak faraway tongues. The unusual high-backed sofa in Jessie’s favorite khaki is from a fine North Carolina manufacturer, but her leather-seated folding campaign chair (for easy transportation) experienced far-away battles. Facing it a plaid armchair with ottoman channels the ’60s. Each artifact on the mantel tells a story, each painting reveals a connection. Conversation never lags here.

“I wanted my dining room table to be wide enough,” Jessie says, to accommodate her stepsons and grandchildren. She chose one from Ireland, of yew wood, surrounded by Windsor chairs. Paintings lean against the wall, for decoration or perhaps awaiting a buyer.

Rugs throughout are, predictably, well-worn Orientals in subdued hues except for the den, where sheep gambol across a pastel background, to offset a shabby-chic white sofa.

Jessie admits to using the house as a supplemental gallery. “The problem for artists is that people don’t have wallspace any more,” she says. Her walls, painted gradations of white and framed by crown moldings, are covered but not saturated. Arrangements change as paintings sell. Emotional attachments don’t hinder business as with some artists: “There’s no sense of loss. Paintings are like children; when they’re 18, it’s time to go.”

Sometimes she follows them. Each year, Jessie returns to Tanzania, where she and friend Tally Bandy have established empowerment programs where women earn enough by raising pigs and goats to educate their children. To this endeavor they have added solar kits made in North Carolina, which enable the women to establish charging stations for lights and mobile phones. A few paintings reflect the African project.

So much life, in a moderate living space. “When I have a party we’re like puppies in a box,” the artist smiles. An elegant box, yet comfortable, inviting, with several areas to sit and chat, walls hung with oils and acrylics of varying shapes, moods, styles and expressions — even double entendre as with zebras crossing a busy thoroughfare.

Indeed, there’s something about Jessie Mackay’s house . . .

That something is Jessie Mackay.  PS

How to Survive a Book Tour

Patience, planning and a sense of serenity

By Wiley Cash

I have been fortunate to publish three novels in the past five years, and I have been even more fortunate that my publisher has sponsored national book tours for each of my books. After the years it takes to write and publish a novel — much of that time spent in solitude and self-doubt — it is very rewarding to visit a bookstore, library or college campus and meet people who have read your work. I love hitting the road to answer questions, sign books and learn what readers are reading when they are not reading my books. When I first sat down to write my debut novel, I never imagined I would be so fortunate.

For my most recent tour in support of The Last Ballad, I spent almost two full months on the road, most of it alone. The wonderful time spent with readers is only a fraction of what you do when you are on book tour. The vast majority of your time is spent running through airports, eating fast food late at night, lying awake in hotel rooms, missing your family and wondering if — in the end — the grind of the road helps book sales. This essay is about how to survive those many long, lonely moments.

Here are a few steps you can take to overcome the perils of the book tour. I ask you to keep in mind that this is what has worked for me. Because of many factors, a book tour is not the same experience for everyone; this is based only on mine.

Gear: If you will be taking any flights longer than an hour, consider getting a neck pillow. Yes, they are awkward to pack and you will look silly carrying it through the airport, but nothing is more awkward or silly than your head lolling against your seatmate’s shoulder or your chin bouncing against your chest while you fight sleep in midair. A vacuum-sealed, stainless-steel thermos also comes in handy: It will keep water cool and coffee hot for hours while you travel. You may also want to invest in an extra phone charger with a long cord. Outlets in hotels are often located behind the headboard or bedside table, and a long cord makes it easy to charge your phone and use it as an alarm clock without moving furniture in your room. Finally, take a book, and make sure to take a book you actually want to read instead of a book you think you should be reading.

Airport: Always check your bag if your host or publisher is paying for your travel because book tours can be long, and a day off from lugging your luggage is a gift. Otherwise, find a carry-on bag that holds a lot of stuff and is easy to transport. After checking your bag, empty your pockets before security and put everything except your ID and boarding pass into one of the small, zippered compartments on your carry-on luggage. There is nothing more annoying than standing at security while people empty their pockets before going through the metal detector. The same people will hold up the line on the other side of security while spending even longer putting everything back into their pockets. Do not be that person. For the same reason, wear shoes that are easy to slip off and on, and go ahead and take your laptop out of your bag. If you find yourself holding up the security line for any reason, do not be cute about it. The security line is not an open mic. There is nothing cute or funny about wasting people’s time when they are rushing to catch a flight.

Food: Except for in a few cities, the food is irredeemably bad at most airports. There is no way around this. I have no suggestions to make about airport food except to avoid it if you can. Once you arrive at your destination, spend a few minutes scouting around online for good food that is nearby. When eating on the road, I walk a fine line between finding something convenient and fast while also wanting to have a distinct culinary experience. If I am in Austin I want to have the best barbecue. If I am in New Orleans I want to have the best gumbo. If I am in New England I want to have the best clam chowder. Keep in mind that “the best” does not always mean the “most famous.” Trust the people at the bookstore and hotel when it comes to food. They are locals. They know. There is also no judgment, at least not from me, for eating cheap pizza or a quick sandwich. You will often find yourself short on time, and settling on something simple is an easy way to make quick decisions. A book tour is not a vacation, and you cannot plan to eat like you are on vacation.

Hotel: I have a particular routine when I check into hotels. I like to feel settled, so if I am staying for more than one night I unpack the necessary clothes and place them in drawers, and then I put my shaving kit on the bathroom counter before stashing my luggage in the closet. Then I turn on the television (CNN or ESPN) and iron the shirts and pants I plan to wear. I always iron during leisure time because there is nothing more hectic than ironing as you are preparing to rush out to a bookstore or catch a taxi to the airport. Clothes unpacked and ironed, I unplug the alarm clock by the bed. If you do not do this you can plan on it going off at 5:00 a.m. and being unable to figure out how to stop it. Go ahead and unplug it and set the alarm on your cellphone. No outlets close to the bedside table? Thank goodness you have your extra-long cord for the charger. Are you a coffee drinker? Most hotels have in-room coffee makers with coffee available. Some hotels have free coffee in the lobby. No matter what the setup, avoid Styrofoam cups because coffee served in Styrofoam cups is an offense to humanity that cannot be forgiven. I know of a few writers who pack their favorite mugs along with fresh coffee and French presses. This is not a bad idea.

Family: I have traveled with my family, and I have traveled without my family. It is easier to travel without my family, especially if we are staying in one hotel room, but it is also very lonely. To offset said loneliness I will often FaceTime with my wife and our girls. This inevitably ends with one child or another wanting to hold the phone while the other child gets upset, which inevitably ends with the phone being dropped or hung up or repossessed by my wife. Everyone gets off the phone feeling a little sadder and more frustrated than before the call. Sometimes I find it better to have my wife text me photos of herself with our daughters, and she posts many of these on Instagram so I can flip through them before bed. But I always go to bed feeling a little sad. I often wonder if it would be easier and less frustrating just to hear their voices instead of seeing their faces.

For me, the easiest part of book tour is standing in front of a group of readers and discussing my book. The hardest parts are being away from my family and the constant feeling that I am running late for the next thing, whether that thing is a flight, a reservation, an interview or ride.

But a book tour can also feature pleasant surprises that masquerade as disappointments. At the end of the most recent tour I was on the way home from out west when I missed a flight in Salt Lake City due to fog. It was noon, and the next flight that could get me home to Wilmington would not leave until midnight, and I would have to connect in Atlanta and would not arrive home until late the following morning. After getting my new tickets I had two options: sulk in the airport all day or go out and see something of Salt Lake City, a place I had never visited before.

I caught a cab into the city and had an incredible day. I visited the King’s English, one of the most iconic bookstores in the country. I had lunch and a beer at a local brewery. I visited the Mormon Temple downtown, and I ended the day with an impromptu decision to catch a Utah Jazz game before catching the train back to the airport.

It was an exhausting day that had begun with great disappointment, but it ended in joy and the certainty that despite how long I had been away and how far I was from North Carolina, I was headed back to my wife and children. I unzipped my backpack, removed my neck pillow, and settled in for the long flight(s) home.  PS

Wiley Cash lives in Wilmington with his wife and their two daughters. His new novel The Last Ballad is available wherever books are sold.


The Montagues and Capulets en Pointe

On Sunday, Jan. 21, the Sunrise Theater will present the Bolshoi Ballet, captured in HD live from Moscow as they perform the company’s premiere of “Romeo and Juliet.” With choreographer Alexei Ratmansky’s dramatic urgency and Prokofiev’s romantic and cinematic score, this production of Shakespeare’s beloved story of the two star-crossed lovers who defy their feuding families to be together is both fresh and timeless. This is classical ballet at its finest. The show begins at 12:55 p.m. and runs for 2 1/2 delightful, if heart-wrenching, hours. Tickets are $25. Sunrise Theater is located at 250 N.W. Broad St., Southern Pines. For more information, call (910) 692-8501 or visit

The Carolina Philharmonic

Begin your New Year with two of the most celebrated orchestral masterworks of all time: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Schubert’s Unfinished Symphonies. Beethoven’s “knock of fate” — the most famous four notes in Western civilization — begins an epic journey of transformation that ends in renewal and triumph. Schubert’s Unfinished Symphonies are haunting and uplifting; and the mystery of what prevented him from finishing his most immortal work remains as great today as when the notes first flowed from his quill. Join Maestro David Michael Wolff on Wednesday, Jan. 10, as he leads the Carolina Philharmonic in an unforgettable concert, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Owens Auditorium, Sandhills Community College, 3395 Airport Road, Pinehurst. Tickets range from $30 to $60, and military and student discounts are offered. For more information, call (910) 687-0287 or visit

Meet the Author

A.J. Tata is an author of nine novels; a speaker; a national security expert; and a retired brigadier general of the U.S. Army, who commanded nearly 25,000 troops on his last combat tour in Afghanistan. You can meet Gen. Tata at The Country Bookshop on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 12 p.m. and hear him talk about his latest thriller, Direct Fire, in which Capt. Jake Mahegan is fighting the war on terror in America — right here in North Carolina. The Country Bookshop is located at 140 N.W. Broad St., Southern Pines. For more information, call (910) 692-3211.

Chamber Music at Weymouth

On Sunday, Jan. 7, the popular, Durham-based Mallarmé Chamber Players are coming to Southern Pines as part of the Weymouth Chamber Music Series. These flexible and innovative professional musicians celebrate diversity and innovation in their programs, which often include new or rarely heard works. The evening’s ensemble will feature Elizabeth Phelps on violin, Suzanne Russo on viola, Nate Leyland on cello and Jeremy Thompson on piano — all of whom you will have the opportunity to meet at the reception following the concert. Tickets are $10 for Weymouth members and $20 for non-members and are available at the Weymouth Center office, in person or by phone, 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Monday-Friday; or at the door on the day of the performance. The concert will take place from 3–5 p.m. at the Weymouth Center for the Arts, located at 555 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines. For more information, call (910) 692-6261 or visit

A Walk in the Winter Woods

The towering longleaf pines of the Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve rise up majestically over expanses of wiregrass, ferns and other native plants, providing a habitat for many rare and intriguing creatures. On Saturday, Jan. 6, join a park ranger at 8 a.m. for a 2-mile walk along easy trails to look for dark-eyed juncos, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, ruby-crowned kinglets and other birds visiting North Carolina over the winter. Or just enjoy the glimpse into the past — when longleaf pine forests like this one covered millions of acres in North Carolina and the southeastern U.S. Bring binoculars and field guides if you have them, and dress warmly. The Preserve is located at 1024 Fort Bragg Road in Southern Pines. Call (910) 692-2167 for more information.

The Rooster’s Wife

Friday, Jan. 5: Farmer and Adele bring Texas swing, and a whole lot more. $10.

Sunday, Jan. 7: The Gibson Brothers, two-time International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainers of the Year, make their annual stand at the Spot in a matinee and evening performance. Doors open at 11:59 a.m. for a 12:45 p.m. brunch and show for $40, or $33 without brunch. The evening performance at 6:45 p.m. includes dinner for $42, or $33 without dinner.

Sunday, Jan. 14: Louise Mosrie and Cliff Eberhardt, with insight and lamentations, joy and sorrow, sing songs that get right to the heart of what matters. $15.

Friday, Jan. 19: Ben and Joe (Hunter and Seamons) perform acoustic blues, ragtime and folk music of the Northwest. $10.

Sunday, Jan. 21: The Contenders, with their infectious rhythms and sublime two-part harmonies, bring amazing songs to life. With special guest Randy Hughes opening. $15.

Friday, Jan. 26: Graymatter plays your favorites and some new songs that will be your favorites at this dance party. $10.

Sunday, Jan. 28: Chicago-bred banjo and fiddle player Rachel Baiman brings her new project to the Spot: songs with a message, and chops to match. $15.

Doors open at 6 p.m. (11:59 a.m. for Jan. 7 brunch performance) and music begins at 6:46 at the Poplar Knight Spot, 114 Knight St., Aberdeen. Prices given above are advance sale. For more information, call (910) 944-7502 or visit for tickets.

Stitches and Clay

The Arts Council of Moore County invite you to attend the opening of ACMC’s January exhibit, “Stitches & Clay,” at the Campbell House Galleries on Friday, Jan. 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibit showcases works by Judy Foushee of Freeman Pottery (miniatures), Rita Ragan (needlework miniatures) and the Sandhills Quilters Guild. Come meet the artists and enjoy light refreshments as well as quilting and sewing demonstrations. Hosts for opening night reception are Anne Jorgensen of Raven Pottery, the Sandhills Quilters Guild, Robin Smith and Dotty Starling. The reception is free and open to the public, and the exhibition will run through Jan. 26. The Campbell House Galleries are located at 482 E. Connecticut Ave. in Southern Pines. For more information, call (910) 692-2787.

Musical Depictions and Cheerful Notes

On Thursday, Jan. 11, the North Carolina Symphony performs at Lee Auditorium. Rune Bergmann will conduct the evening’s program, which pairs Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” a poignant and thrilling tribute to the composer’s artist friend, with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, a cheerful and sunny composition. Prior to the 8 p.m. performance, you are invited to meet the musicians in the Band Room, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets cost from $18 to $49 and are available at the door or in advance through the N.C. Symphony Box Office, The Country Bookshop, or the Arts Council of Moore County (Campbell House). Lee Auditorium is located at Pinecrest High School, 250 Voit Gilmore Lane, Southern Pines. For more information, call (877) 627-6724 or visit


About Magic

A quantum taste of joy

hidden in a top hat

The wisdom of love

up your sleeve

Tell me your story as

you rise wingless

above the stage

Let me make you believe

in the vast unbelievable

Wave your wand and

marry our kindness

Clapping we shout “encore!”

— Ry Southard

Lucky Takes a Hike

The Kitty Chronicles, Chapter 4

By Deborah Salomon

Hello, January. Hello, annual kitty column. Don’t groan . . . my kitties provide enough material to fill a page every month. But, try as I may, I can’t convince the world how intriguing cats are. Also, that you don’t have to be crazy to tune in.

Recap: After a lifetime of rescuing and adopting animals, I had retired. Then, six years ago a coal-black kitty came to my door, friendly and hungry. Black cats are so special, needy and mournful. I fed him outside for months before letting him into my home and my life, later learning that he — a neutered male with front claws removed — had been abandoned when his family moved away.

I named him Lucky because any animal I adopt is.

Then I noticed another cat — mottled grey and white, cross-eyed, lumpy and grumpy — sitting on various porches. Neighbors called her “everybody’s” because she begged more than enough food. Her clipped ear indicated a spayed feral. I added Fancy Feast to the mix. One day she showed up with a bloody paw. I opened the door and that was that — except for her disposition, which prompted the name Hissy. Hisses quickly turned to purrs. Now, she’s Missy, Lucky’s devoted companion who mothers him, fusses over him, wrestles him and pushes into his food bowl.

Whereas Lucky possesses keen intelligence, deductive reasoning, powerful persuasion and the sweetest disposition I have ever encountered in an animal, Hissy’s a dingbat, always underfoot, forever wanting something.

Missy makes me laugh. I adore Lucky.

Both go out, but not far. They are content to luxuriate on porch chairs, and under the bushes. A few months ago, Lucky developed a worrisome habit: disappearing for 12 hours, sometimes longer. The first disappearance happened when a dog got loose and chased him down the hill and into the woods. I frantically combed the area with a flashlight, then made myself a chair bed near the window where he cries to be let in. Morning dawned, no Lucky. He did not appear until suppertime, tired and limping. Since then, he’s been on several jaunts. Could he be looking to retaliate against the dog? Has he found a second home? When he returns Missy goes into a frenzy of licking and rubbing against him. Something’s going on. What is he telling her? Cats meow only to communicate with people; they speak to each other silently, with scents and gestures.

Lucky also speaks with his eyes, which are more expressive than Kate Winslet’s. Sometimes, they look worried, frightened. Other times, content. I’ll never forget the look when I opened the door on a possum. “What the . . . ?” When Lucky wants something he will find me, paw my leg, speak plaintively and lead me to the kitchen, or the door or the sofa.

Lucky seldom goes out in cool weather. Instead, he has reclaimed the heating pad. I have severe arthritis in both shoulders. Sleeping on a heating pad helps. Last winter I bought a nice new one covered in flannel. Hmmm, Lucky thought, as he settled down by my shoulder. This feels nice. By morning, there was more of Lucky on the pad than of me. Soon, we were a two-heating-pad family. He loves the warmth so much that he naps there during the day, in a state of bliss.

What about poor Missy? Far as I can tell, Lucky has established an invisible wall around the pad, which she dares not cross, even when he is elsewhere. Trump could use his skills.

Having argued feline intelligence, I must now dispute the aloofness myth. I never met an aloof cat, which suggests the complainant is aloof, not the kitty. The minute I sit down mine come running for my lap. They nuzzle, they purr, they lick and “knead.” Pinned down, unable to move, I pet, rub and scratch under their chins. I have watched an entire Duke basketball game wedged between two happy cats.

Their personalities amaze more than anything else.

Lucky is a sedate gentleman of late middle age who walks rather than scampers, eats slowly, then repairs to his spring-ball toy where I sprinkle catnip, which he enjoys like an after-dinner cigar. He comes when called, welcomes visitors whether they appreciate his attention or not. Missy is a scaredy-cat. She dives under the bed when the doorbell rings or the lawn mower passes by. She’d rather chase her tail than an expensive toy. Occasionally, she lumbers after squirrels, while Lucky assumes a sphinx pose and watches through half-closed eyes. But since she loves lapping my homemade chicken soup I forgive everything.

Cats, obviously, are like snowflakes — complex, no two the same. In my foundlings I see the intelligence of a border collie combined with the devotion of a golden retriever and the loyalty of a German shepherd. But you have to sit still, observe and respond.

Now, if only I could find one of those “My Cat is Smarter than Your Honor Student” bumper stickers.  PS

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

Hot Toddies

Warming up your winter cocktail repertoire

By Tony Cross

Maybe it’s just me, but I think whiskey carries over better with folks during the colder months. I drink it year-round and definitely had my share of Boulevardiers over the summer, but I tend to drink whisky and whiskey straight more so during this time of year. However, at the end of the night, I usually prefer to mix myself a hot toddy of some sort. Toddies are simple drinks to make, with hardly any ingredients to grab from your kitchen. I desire them during certain late nights because they are soothing, and don’t pack the punch of imbibing it straight. I usually like to mess around with different ratios, bitters, and liqueurs to put a spin on the classics, and the toddy is no different. A good hot cocktail can put aches and pains at bay, even if it’s only for a few hours.

The first mention of a whiskey toddy is written in Jerry Thomas’s 1862 book The Bar-Tenders Guide, , but it’s referred to as an Irish Whiskey Punch: “This is the genuine Irish beverage. It is generally made with one-third pure whiskey, two-thirds boiling water, in which the sugar has been dissolved. If lemon punch, the rind is rubbed on the sugar, and a small proportion of juice is added before the whiskey is poured in.” Let’s break that down. One-third of Irish whiskey can be 2 ounces, and the hot water should be 4. The “lemon punch” is nothing more than an oleo-saccharum (oil-sugar). To do this, take the peel from one lemon (avoiding the pith, as it will add bitterness) and place it into a small cup-sized container. Add half a cup of baker’s sugar on top of the peels, and seal. Let sit for at least four hours. This will extract the oils from the lemon peels into the sugar. In a small pot, add 4 ounces of water and put it on medium-high heat. Add the lemon-sugar, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. The amount of oleo-saccharum to add to your toddy is up to you; I recommend starting out with 1/2 ounce.

Renowned bartender Jim Meehan has his version of a hot whiskey in his newly published book, Meehan’s Bartender Manual. In it, he mixes Thomas’s Irish Whiskey Punch and Whiskey Skin. Thomas’s Whiskey Skin is whiskey, boiling water and a lemon peel. Meehan recalls his first hot whiskey when he visited Ireland for the first time in 1997: “I was no stranger to hot toddies, but I’d never tasted one with a clove-studded lemon wedge, which serves the same steam- and heat-mitigating function as the head on an Irish Coffee. Since alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water, if you combine boiling hot water with alcohol, heady fumes will evaporate from the glass, repelling all but the most intrepid imbibers.” That first whiff of a hot toddy might send you into a coughing frenzy. Meehan’s recipe is also simple:

Hot Whiskey

(Meehan’s Bartender Manual, 2017)

4 ounces hot water

1 1/2 ounces Powers Irish Whiskey (Jameson will work, too)

1 ounce honey syrup

Garnish with 1 lemon wedge studded with 3 cloves

Honey Syrup

(Makes 16 ounces)

8 ounces filtered water

12 ounces honey

Simmer the water and honey in a pot over medium heat (approximately 180˚ F) until the honey dissolves. Cool and bottle.

I’m sure you can see how making a traditional Whiskey Skin wouldn’t be the least bit interesting if you ordered one at the bar, or if you made one at home. I’m not saying it wouldn’t do the trick, I’m just saying. That’s why myriad barmen implement their own spin on today’s toddy. I’ll admit, I usually keep mine simple: bourbon or cognac with a rich demerara syrup, aromatic bitters and a squeeze of lemon. One week when under the weather, I did whip together something healthy and tasty. Maybe it wasn’t healthy, but I felt better afterwards.

Just as with any other classic drink, learn the basics and why it works. I chose High West’s American Prairie Bourbon. Why? Because it was the bourbon whiskey closest to my hand on the shelf. I used echinacea tea — this particular tea helped soothe my throat when I was sick the year prior — added fresh lemon for the citrus, and a local honey and ginger syrup for the sugar. For spice, I threw in a few dashes of Teapot Bitters from Adam Elmegirab (available online; flavors of vanilla, tea and baking spices). Easy to make, and really good going down. If you start with the basics, and learn why the specs work, it will become easier to play with other ingredients and make your own specialty toddy.

Hard Day’s Night

1 1/2 ounces bourbon (I used High West American Prairie)

4 ounces (boiling hot) Traditional Medicinal Throat Coat Echinacea Tea (available at Nature’s Own)

1/2 ounce honey-ginger syrup

1/4 ounces fresh lemon

3 dashes Dr. Adam Elmegirab Teapot Bitters

Preheat a coffee mug with hot water. Add all ingredients into heated mug and stir lightly for a few revolutions. Add a twist of lemon.

Honey-ginger syrup

In a small pot, combine 1/2 cup honey (depending where you buy your honey, it will taste different; store bought not local will taste very sweet) 1/2 cup of water and 1 ounce fresh ginger juice (if you don’t have a juicer, grate organic ginger into a cheesecloth or nut milk bag and squeeze the juice into a container). Place over medium-high heat, and stir for a few minutes until all three ingredients have married.   PS

Tony Cross is a bartender who runs cocktail catering company Reverie Cocktails in Southern Pines.

You Can Go Home Again

Courtney Stiles makes an impact in her own backyard

By Lisa D. Mickey

There was always something about the wind in the pines, the sandy soil and the ubiquitous pine needles that felt like home to Courtney Pomeranz Stiles.

And while golf-industry jobs took the Lee County native to different and lovely places to live and work, something was missing. She found that Florida was fine in the winter and coastal Georgia was gorgeous nearly all the time, but try as she might, Carolina was always on her mind.

So when Stiles got the opportunity to return to the Pinehurst area three years ago as executive director of The First Tee of the Sandhills, out came the suitcases.

It was a chance to bring her golf career back to the place where she had learned to play and an opportunity to offer guiding direction for Pinehurst-area junior golfers — just as she had experienced years ago.

“It’s pretty awesome she’s stayed in golf and come back to this area,” said her first teacher, Bonnie Bell McGowan, co-owner of Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club. “She loves her home roots.”

As a youngster growing up just down the road from Pinehurst and Southern Pines, Stiles found golf was an easy sport to embrace in the state’s avowed mecca of the game. Her father’s first cousin, Jay Overton, a PGA Life Member with longtime ties to Pinehurst Country Club, showed her the business of golf.

And with top instruction nearby, the youngster honed her skills under the tutelage of McGowan — whose mother, legendary instructor Peggy Kirk Bell, sometimes popped in to offer her thoughts during lessons.

“I ate a lot of banana pudding with Mrs. Bell at Pine Needles,” admitted Stiles, 35.

“Spending time with her was never about golf tips,” she added. “(She) had a huge heart and always gave back to the game.”

Stiles played college golf at North Carolina State University, where she earned a communications degree in 2004. But even as a collegiate player, she made an impression on Wolfpack coach Page Marsh, who saw valuable qualities in the young woman. Marsh called Stiles “relentless, but gracious” and described her as “a great ambassador” of the game.

Transitioning from college to professional golf, Stiles qualified for the Futures Tour (now Symetra Tour), where she played from 2005-2006.

“I loved the experience because it was highly competitive,” she said. “I also learned how to handle my emotions while traveling alone on a very tight budget.”

But life on the road as a touring pro was a grind for Stiles. The highway miles seemed endless, and the paychecks barely covered her expenses. Stiles also hoped to start a family in the near future.

After two seasons, Stiles decided to make a change. In late 2006, she made a phone call to the PGA Tour through a contact she had made on the Futures Tour.

That phone call turned into a job in new media at the PGA Tour. It was there that Stiles learned about customer service with golf fans and media research. She also worked with the Tour’s marketing campaigns.

Interested in tournament operations, she was at the right place at the right time when the PGA Tour launched the McGladrey Classic. Stiles was assigned to run the event in St. Simons Island, Ga.

She worked there from 2007-2010, and moved on to the Davis Love Foundation in St. Simons Island from 2010-2014. It was an easy transition for the North Carolinian, who enjoyed working with community charities and nonprofits.

“We had 85 different charities at the tournament there, so I really got exposed to all of the needs of people in the community,” she said.

It was actually Love who approached Stiles about starting a First Tee chapter in St. Simons. For two years, Stiles molded and guided what would become The First Tee of the Golden Isles.

About the same time the First Tee program was fully chartered in St. Simons Island, another job opened that caught Stiles’ attention. The First Tee of the Sandhills was looking to replace its executive director.

On one hand, she had invested massive amounts of time and energy into developing the coastal Georgia program. On the other hand, this was a job in a place she loved.

Stiles applied for the position and was offered the job. And with the blessing of Love, she headed home.

“It was a great fit to go back home, and my kids were at an age when it was just right,” said Stiles, who married PGA Professional Cole Stiles in 2007 at Pinehurst, where he currently oversees Pinehurst courses No. 6 and 8.

“To be able to stay in golf, essentially in my backyard — with my home county eventually becoming a part of our chapter as we expand — is a big thing I wanted to do when I took the job,” she added.

The First Tee of the Sandhills currently serves six counties in the Pinehurst area. The next step for the local chapter is to expand the program into Fayetteville and its Fort Bragg Army base — a plan that excites Stiles in an effort to include children of area military families.

But her work in the Sandhills has already drawn praise from her former teacher.

“Courtney has put her heart and soul into it and has already taken the First Tee program here and grown it to four times its previous size,” said McGowan.

“It’s not just a job,” McGowan added. “She truly loves the game and wants to see it grow, so we’re blessed to have her here.”

Marsh noted that the former college player she once guided has now come full circle to make her own mark in the game.

“Courtney loves the game and is a great role model,” said Marsh.

The former professional regained her amateur status in 2008, but family and career demands have limited her rounds for nearly a decade. She estimates that she played three rounds of golf in 2015, and “maybe” six rounds in 2016.

When she learned there was going to be a summer qualifying tournament in the Pinehurst area for the USGA’s 2017 Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, she began practicing with a goal. She won that August qualifier at the Country Club of North Carolina to advance into the national championship — rediscovering an energized competitive spirit.

“The competitive juices definitely tried to come out, and I’ve tried to push them away because I don’t want to put any expectations on myself,” she said. “The reality is, I work 60 hours a week, have two kids, a husband and a household.”

But while her rounds are few, Stiles finds greater satisfaction in being back on familiar turf.

She also knows it’s her turn to help teach the next generation in her home state. Fortunately for Stiles, her mentors are now her peers and are still offering to help.

“I want the kids I work with to see this as a lifelong sport,” she said. “I want to show them that you can do things through hard work and perseverance.”

And sometimes, all of that work finally brings you right back home to where you want to be.  PS

Lisa D. Mickey is a North Carolina native and Florida-based freelance golf writer.

For the Love of Nothing

An entire month devoted to . . . whatever

By Susan S.Kelly

I speak now for that silent minority who fear to voice, confess, or admit their glad anticipation for, their deep abiding love for, their eternal gratitude for . . .  January. Believe ye: there are those of us who crave every endless 31 days of a month so roundly dreaded by so many.

Bring it, baby.

For quad-A overachievers, list-makers, and borderline OCD peeps like myself, January is the season of somnolence, of letting go. For over-organized souls, nothing beats a full-on month of . . . nothing.

No holidays, and therefore no searching, purchasing, wrapping, hiding. No candy. No centerpieces. No costumes or cocktails. No (unspoken but acknowledged) competing for best dessert or coleslaw or fireworks or slalom or Easter basket or parade float. Personal bonus: no family birthdays.

No yard work. Everything is leafless, hideous, and charmless, and with any luck, will stay that way for six more weeks. The only outdoor chore is filling the feeder. No to-dos of raking, mowing — it’s too early to even prune. Nothing needs fertilizing, watering. Even kudzu is temporarily tamed to a crinkled, wrinkled weed. I’m so thankful it’s too early to force quince or forsythia; no sense of obligation there, and if you still force narcissus, I have a collection of lovely forcing vases and trays and even the rocks that you’re welcome to. Sorry, but I need to hold on to the gin that stiffens the stems. And I love my roses, but, boy, do I love when they’re whacked off and not producing, and therefore not accusing me of leaving them to grow blowsy and frowsy rather than cutting and delivering them to someone whose life, living room, and outlook would be improved by — oh, never mind. I may be the only person you know who gets depressed when the first bulbs begin blooming.

No fundraisers on PBS. This is huge.

Nothing at the farmer’s market equals absolution from waking early to haul yourself there, and trying to fairly spread your vegetable benevolence to several farmers with pleading eyes. Nothing edible locally means seasonal broccoli and citrus with unknown origins are just fine. As for other aspects of eating, in January it’s practically unpatriotic not to exist on semi-solid foodstuffs straight from your Crock-Pot. Go ahead, add another packet of taco mix to that pork butt, onion soup mix to that chuck roast, chili mix to that ground beef. Dow, Inc. knows: Better living through chemicals.

No campaigns, primaries, elections. No yard signs. No door-to-door, ’cause it’s too cold for solicitors, and if you haven’t gotten your subscriptions and wrapping paper by now, sorry. And altar guilds everywhere — Rejoice! and God rest ye merry gentlemen and women — no need for changing altar hangings and linens. Even at church, once you get past Epiphany, there’s a nice long stretch of nothing until the deprivations of Lent. As for resolutions, by mid-month they’re mostly moot, admit it.

Within the narrow demographic of January adorers, there’s an even smaller contingent: the snow lovers. For those of us dreamers, hopers, prayers and devotees of white stuff, January is the month during which those fervent desires are most likely to be fulfilled. For those who disloyally decamp for sunny Southern climes, desert isles, and ski slopes, all the better. Less car and foot traffic to mar the peaceful white perfection of a snowfall. Sorry, dear, I couldn’t get to the grocery store for supper supplies. Feel free to scrape whatever’s left in the . . . Crock-Pot.

It occurs to me that, were I ever to get a face-lift, January would be an opportune time.

Isn’t it divine to go to the movies and catch up on all those blockbusters you missed and get just the seat you want? Because no one else is there. Plus, you’re exonerated from even going to the movies: Everybody knows nothing Oscar-worthy is released between January and March.

Not that I encourage sloth, far from it. January is the month made for domestic industries, with the iPod blasting in your ears and no fear of anyone catching you atonally belting tunes with Justin Timberlake or Taylor Swift. Consolidate coupons, cull the catalogs, schedule your spanking, sparkling pristine new calendar with all the birthdays you forgot last year. Polish silver. Then, transfer your earbuds to your laptop, scoot your socked feet to the fire, and proceed to unabashedly binge Netflix, knowing you’ve earned and are entitled to The Right to Relax.

Oh, poor despised, derided month, that span of gloom and chill, so scorned and shunned by humanity, I’ll be there for you, bundled and content, cheering you on. Hermits, unite. We knew what Oscar Wilde really was referring to when he uttered, “the love that dare not speak its name” — we few, we happy few, who wallow, with glee, in January.  PS

Susan Kelly is a blithe spirit, author of several novels, and proud new grandmother.

Wrestling Prose

An iconic insider on the art of writing well

By Stephen E. Smith

In his latest book, Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process, John McPhee deconstructs the process he’s spent a lifetime perfecting: writing on obscure subjects and delighting a discerning readership with technical explanations, entertaining narratives, and meticulous description, all of it couched in impeccable prose.

He begins by analyzing the most complex component of the writing process: structure. Using as an example his New Yorker article on the Pine Barrens, McPhee admits to spending two weeks lying on a picnic table in his backyard staring up into the branches and leaves and “fighting fear and panic” because he couldn’t visualize a structure for the material he’d assembled. Years of extensive research — interviews, articles, books, personal observations, etc., all of it cataloged on coded note cards — had gone into the project, but he couldn’t overcome the dread of banging out that first sentence and arranging the material in a readable form. Eventually, he overcame his writer’s block and produced an article that morphed into the bestselling book, but the experience was painful — and instructive. In an attempt to convey the intricacies of the process, McPhee employs a series of drawings and diagrams that, unfortunately, do little to untangle the complexities of problems he’d confronted. But readers shouldn’t be deterred. As with many of McPhee’s books, there’s a preliminary learning curve to overcome before landing on the safe side of abstraction.

In “Editors and Publishers,” McPhee delves into the internal workings of The New Yorker and the publishing house of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. His insider anecdotes are informative and humorous and include character sketches of the editors and editorial staff, affectionately detailing their eccentricities. “Mr. Shawn [editor of The New Yorker] actually seemed philosophical about its [an obscenity] presence in the language, but not in his periodical. My young daughters, evidently, were in no sense burdened as he was.” He also contributes an anecdote concerning Shawn’s objection to writers turning in copy about locations that were cold, such as Alaska or Newfoundland: “If he had an aversion to cold places it was as nothing beside his squeamishness in the virtual or actual presence of uncommon food” — although Shawn approved a McPhee proposal to write about eating road kill in rural Georgia. 

In “Elicitation,” he dispenses useful advice on the art of interviewing, citing as an example his experience with comedian Jackie Gleason. His description of “The Great One,” bits and pieces of relevant detail — Gleason called everyone “pal” — creates a living and breathing facsimile of the comedian, and older readers will find themselves transported back to The Honeymooners and the loveable peccadilloes of the irascible Ralph Kramden. In a Time cover story on Sophia Loren, irony functions as description, succinctly capturing Loren’s appeal: “Her feet are too big. Her nose is too long. Her teeth are uneven. She has the neck, as one of her rivals has put it, of ‘a Neapolitan giraffe.’ Her waist seems to begin in the middle of her thighs, and she has big, half-bushel hips. She runs like a fullback. Her hands are huge. Her forehead is low. Her  mouth too large. And, mamma mia, she is absolutely gorgeous.”

Gleason and Loren notwithstanding, McPhee devotes an entire chapter to a discussion of “frame of reference,” pieces of common knowledge that a writer employs to enhance a subject’s comprehensibility. He cautions against using allusions that don’t possess durability, warning that writers should never assume that anyone has seen a movie that might be used as an allusion. “In the archives of ersatz reference,” he writes, “that one [movies] is among the fattest folders.” He notes that popular culture changes with such rapidity that it’s dangerous for a writer to conclude that any allusion carries the weight of meaning necessary to elucidate a subject. To prove his point, McPhee polled his Princeton students using references such as Paul Newman, Fort Knox, Cassius Clay, Rupert Murdoch and discovered that the majority of his undergrads registered a low degree of recognition — and when it came to identifying Peckham Rye, Churchill Downs, Jack Dempsey, George Plimpton, and Mort Sahl, his students were blissfully ignorant.

In his final chapter, McPhee again confronts writer’s block. In a note written to a frustrated student, he suggests a remedy: “Sometimes in a nervous frenzy I just fling words as if I were flinging mud at a wall. Blurt out, heave out, babble out something — anything — as a first draft. With that you’ve achieved a sort of nucleus. Then, as you work it over and alter it, you begin to shape sentences that score higher with eye and ear.”

If there’s a fault with McPhee’s writing, and it’s difficult to find even the smallest gaffe, it’s an occasional touch of the dictionary disease: demonym, multiguously, bibulation, horripilation, etc. — words that will force the reader to touch his index finger to the Kindle screen, or God forbid, crack open a dictionary.

McPhee is straightforward, practical, and illustrative, detailing the struggles serious writers endure on a daily basis and pointing out, finally, that creativity is the product of what the writer chooses to write about, how he approaches the subject and arranges the material, the skill he demonstrates in describing characters, the kinetic energy of the prose, and the extent to which the reader can visualize the characters and story. As always, he writes with grace and charm, and Draft No. 4 earns a niche on the bookshelf next to Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, the Harbrace College Handbook, Writing Down the Bones, Roget’s International Thesaurus, and the OED.   PS

Stephen E. Smith is a retired professor and the author of seven books of poetry and prose. He’s the recipient of the Poetry Northwest Young Poet’s Prize, the Zoe Kincaid Brockman Prize for poetry and four North Carolina Press awards.