Tea Leaf Astrologer

Tea Leaf Astrologer


(February 19 – March 20)

Einstein was a Pisces. While it’s true the German physicist struggled to remember his own birthday — “It is a known fact that I was born, and that is all that is necessary,” he would say — he had that Piscean knack for thinking outside the box. Imagination is your superpower. Keep that in mind this month when Mars dips into your fourth house of home and family, and tries yanking up the rug. Tension, like time, is relative.

Tea leaf “fortunes” for the rest of you:

Aries (March 21 – April 19)    

The fast lane is overrated. 

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

You can’t pull a rabbit from an empty hat.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

Best to leave yesterday behind you.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

Follow the breadcrumbs.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

Try screaming into a pillow.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22) 

As you were. Or consider flying a kite.

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

It’s time to speak your piece.

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

Be sure to read the fine print.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

You’re smothering it again.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

Wear your power color.

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)

There’s a fine line between boundaries and dissociation.  PS

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

Simple Life

Simple Life

A Little Stuffed Potato Wisdom

Lessons from full-grown tater tots

By Jim Dodson

Someone once said to me that it’s not happiness that makes one grateful, but gratitude that makes one happy.

Looking back, I may have seen this poetic syllogism scrawled on an ancient stone wall several years ago while hiking with my wife in Tuscany (where every graffiti artist is a philosopher-in-training). Or maybe I heard Oprah Winfrey say it in one of her SuperSoul Conversations that the aforementioned wife suggested that I listen to on long drives.

Whoever said it, I’m grateful for its pithy wisdom because I’ve suddenly reached an age where I know it to be true.

Back in February, I turned 70, a milestone that took me by surprise.

It’s not that I was unprepared. In truth, I’ve enjoyed getting older and slowing down a bit, giving me the chance to notice the evening sky.

Also, I am not alone in this epic journey into the great gray age and the unknown, as my late father — who lived a full and active life right up to a week before he died at 80 — used to joke. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 69.2 million baby boomers alive and kicking today in America, the second-largest population group next to our children, the millennials (73.9 million born between 1981 and 1996 ). My particular group was born in 1953 ands falls somewhere in the lower middle of the boomer years between 1946 and 1964.

According to the latest actuarial projections used by our friends at the Social Security Administration to calculate how much longer the agency will have to give us back all the money we spent decades putting into the system, my age and gender group — males aged 70 — can expect to live another 14.5 years, while our female counterparts come in at a 16.75. Good for them, I say! Sell the house, dump the stocks, give away the dog and go sit on a beautiful beach in Tahiti for the rest of your days!

By the way, that’s exactly what my wise but cheeky and younger wife Wendy says she plans to do with her giddy 10 extra years after I check out of the Hotel California.

Meanwhile, according to the CDC’s Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), life expectancy at birth in the United States declined nearly a full year from 2020 to 2021, a worrying dip from 77.0 to 76.1 years that is the lowest level since 1996, probably due in part to a thing called COVID. The 0.9 year drop in life expectancy in 2021, along with a 1.8 year drop in 2020, was the biggest two-year decline since 1921–1923, years in which the Spanish flu wiped out millions worldwide, including my own maternal grandmother.

Actuarially speaking, it could be worse, of course. Afghanistan’s current life expectancy is just a hair over 56 years, considerably shorter if the Taliban’s Morality Police catch you whispering about the need to educate girls and women.

Singapore’s life expectancy, on the other hand, is a bonny 86.5 years. Perhaps this means that Dame Wendy — the future merry widow — should consider moving there instead of Tahiti (which has a mere life expectancy of 78.82 years) where she’s likely to make lots of older gal pals living the good life off the insurance money on a lovely Asian beach. As any veteran foreign traveler knows, however, Singaporeans are obsessed with public cleanliness and strict social order. Littering, chewing gum in public or failing to flush a public toilet can land you a whopping $1,000 fine, while showing your bare feet or skin of any sort can earn you three months in jail. That sensational black one-piece my 61-year-old lover debuted at the pool last summer probably won’t fly with Singapore’s own Morality Police. So on second thought, perhaps I won’t suggest Singapore and just leave well enough alone. That’s probably the wisest thing I’ve learned from being happily married for 20-plus years.

The point of all these dizzying numbers, as Oprah or any Tuscan street poet with spray paint can tell you, is to live the best life you can and be damned grateful for whatever time you have left.

That’s exactly what my fellow members of the Stuffed Potatoes Lunch & Philosophy Club try to do on a daily basis.

For the moment, there’s just three of us in the club. We meet every other week or so in the shadowy booth of a popular restaurant to discuss the current state of the world, the wonders of our grown children and the enduring mystery of our wives.

Remarkably, as this March dawns, all three of us will have turned 70 by the end of the month. Joe hit the mark in late January, I did so in early February, and Patrick achieves the milestone later this month.

I’m told none of us actually looks 70 years old, though wives, golf pals and fellow Stuffed Potatoes can scarcely be considered objective sources.

For that matter, we probably don’t even act like old men, save for when we complain about dodgy knees and idiots who run red lights. As a kid, I once asked my lively grandmother on her 84th birthday if she was afraid of dying. She grinned and patted my rosy little cheek. “Not a bit, sugar pie,” she said. “Just afraid of falling.” 

None of the Stuffed Potatoes, I can reliably report, are afraid of dying. We’re too busy for that.

January Joe is a professional forester helping set aside beautiful lands for future generations. Patrick, the marketing whiz — I fondly call him the “Irish Antichrist” — is keeping the national economy afloat. And I’m just a humble scribbler trying to finish three books this year alone.

Given that we collectively amount to 210 years of accumulated life experience, I put to my fellow Stuffed Potatoes a timely question the other day: What is the one thing you’ve learned in 70 years?

January Joe, our resident sage, didn’t hesitate. “There are wonders ahead. Don’t fight them — just surrender!” This from a lovely fellow who gets to walk in the woods for a living and surrenders most weekends to the joy of several beautiful grandbabies.

My old friend, Patrick, offered with a hearty laugh, “There’s no good news or bad news. It’s all information. Just keep doing what you do and don’t look back.” The Irish Antichrist means business.

As for me, I hope to finish half a dozen more books over the 15.5 years I may or may not have left. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, we have a joyous new puppy named Winnie and a garden that is springing gloriously back to life by the minute.

I’m deeply grateful for both, not to mention a fabulous wife who says she really has no interest in going to Singapore or Tahiti. And was probably only joking.

That makes me a really happy guy..  PS

Jim Dodson can be reached at jwdauthor@gmail.com.




March is a born artist, wide-eyed and unbridled, creating for the sake of life itself.

The genius begins with a single daffodil, warm and bright, nodding in a stream of honeyed light. Each petal is a world of yellow. Each leaf, a meditation on green.

The artist becomes obsessed.

One daffodil becomes a series, progressively abstract, until each flower is more essence than form.

Paintings expand into wild landscapes. Quick as the hand can move, a rolling sea of yellow starbursts stretches from one canvas to the next. The foreground softens. Thick and messy brushstrokes evoke a tender, playful light.

Crested irises and yellow violets now spill from the frenzied brush, followed by flowering clover, purple deadnettle, wild onions, chickweed and a downy flush of dandelions.

Robins begin to appear. Bluebirds, too. Tree swallows and towhees and red-winged blackbirds. The painting nearly sings out.

Leafless branches, stark among the luscious earth, are suddenly laden with clusters of crimson whirligigs. Redbuds are studded with bright fuchsia blossoms. Soft pink swirls adorn silver-limbed saucer magnolias.

The brush strokes quicken. A sweep of tulips colors the earth magnificent. As spring bursts forth, flower by brilliant, quivering flower, the artist surrenders to the muse.

On the Wild Side

Among the wild blossoms beginning to carpet the soft earth — fig buttercups and field mustard, blood root and Johnny jump-ups, dimpled trout lilies and Carolina jessamine — the common blue violet is one you’ll likely spot in damp woods and shady meadows. Also called the woolly blue violet, wood violet or common meadow violet, this short-stemmed perennial is known for its heart-shaped leaves (edible) and white-throated purple flowers (also edible).

But have you ever seen a bird’s foot violet? Named for the shape of its narrowly lobed leaves (they do, in fact, resemble bird feet), this viola species prefers dry, sandy soil and pine lands. The five-petaled flower, lilac or bicolored with bright orange anthers, is largely considered to be the most beautiful violet in the world. But what spring bloomer isn’t a bewitching vision to our winter-weary eyes?


Our life is March weather, savage and serene in one hour.             — Ralph Waldo Emerson


A Time to Sow

The cold earth is thawing. The Full Sap Moon rises on Tuesday, March 7. The maple sap is flowing once again.

The vernal equinox occurs on Monday, March 20 — along with a dark, balsamic moon. As a new season and cycle begin, we return to the garden.

In early March, sow carrot, spinach, radish, pea and turnip seeds directly into the softening earth. Mid-month, sow chives, parsley, onion and parsnips. At month’s end: beet and arugula seeds.   

Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage seedlings can be transplanted outdoors mid- to late-month. Ditto kale, Swiss chard, lettuce and kohlrabi.

Growing season has commenced. As the days grow warmer still, behold the simple miracle of spring’s return. The miracle of life itself.  PS



March Books


Hang the Moon, by Jeannette Walls

Sallie Kincaid is the daughter of the biggest man in a small town, the charismatic Duke Kincaid. Born at the turn of the 20th century into a life of comfort and privilege, Sallie remembers little about her mother, who died in a violent argument with the Duke. By the time she’s 8 years old, the Duke has remarried and had a son, Eddie. While Sallie is her father’s daughter, sharp-witted and resourceful, Eddie is his mother’s son, timid and cerebral. When Sallie tries to teach young Eddie to be more like their father, her daredevil coaching leads to an accident, and Sallie is cast out. Nine years later, she returns, determined to reclaim her place in the family. Sallie confronts the secrets and scandals that hide in the shadows of the Big House, navigates the factions in the family and town, and finally comes into her own as a bold, sometimes reckless bootlegger.

A Likely Story, by Leigh McMullan Abramson

The only child of an iconic American novelist discovers a shocking tangle of family secrets, upending everything she thought she knew about her parents, her gilded childhood and her own stalled writing career in this standout debut novel. Growing up in the ’90s in New York City as the only child of famous parents was both a blessing and a curse for Isabelle Manning. Her beautiful society hostess mother, Claire, and New York Times bestselling author father, Ward, were the city’s intellectual It couple. Ward’s glamorous obligations often took him away from Isabelle, but Claire made sure her childhood was filled with magic and love. Now an adult, all Isabelle wants is to be a successful writer like her father. After many false starts and the unexpected death of her mother, she faces her upcoming 35th birthday alone and on the verge of a breakdown. Her anxiety skyrockets when she uncovers some shocking truths about her parents and begins wondering if everything she knew about her family was all based on an elaborate lie.

Community Board, by Tara Conklin

Where does one go, you might ask, when the world falls apart? When the immutable facts of your life — the mundane, the trivial, the take-for-granted minutiae that once filled every second of every day — suddenly disappear? Where does one go in such dire and unexpected circumstances? Home, of course. Darcy Clipper, prodigal daughter, nearly 30, has returned home to Murbridge, Massachusetts, after her life takes an unwelcome left turn. Murbridge, Darcy is convinced, will welcome her home and provide a safe space in which she can nurse her wounds and harbor grudges, both real and imagined. But Murbridge, like so much else Darcy thought to be fixed and immutable, has changed. And while Darcy’s first instinct might be to hole herself up in her childhood bedroom, subsisting on Chef Boyardee and canned chickpeas, it is human nature to do two things: seek out meaningful human connection and respond to anonymous internet postings. As Murbridge begins to take shape around Darcy, both online and in person, she asks herself: What can she expect of her community? And what does she owe it in return?

The Gospel of Orla, by Eoghan Walls

In this stunning debut novel from the Northern Irish poet, The Gospel of Orla is the coming-of-age story of a young girl, Orla, and the man she meets who has an astonishing and unique ability. It is also a road novel that takes us across the north of England after the two flee Orla’s village together, and the mysteries of faith charge full bore into the vagaries of contemporary mores.



The Three Little Guinea Pigs, by Erica Perl

Oh, my, cuteness overload! This charming retelling of the classic tale will have every guinea pig lover squeaking for joy at the three piggies’ clever antics. The fun facts at the end really amp up the “awwww” factor. (Ages 3-8.)

When Sea Becomes Sky, by Gillian McDunn

When you live near a salt marsh, a boat, no matter how tiny, is a ticket to freedom. For Bex, her rowboat is where she feels closest to her brother, Davey, and where she begins to see how art and life and personal passion intersect. When Sea Becomes Sky is destined to join the canon of summer must-reads. (Ages 9-12.)

Heroes of Havensong : Dragonboy, by Megan Reyes

This debut novel follows four children — a boy turned dragon; his reluctant dragon rider; a runaway witch; and a young soldier — bound together by the fates themselves to save their world, and magic itself, from being destroyed. Perfect for Wings of Fire fans looking for a new series. (Ages 9-12.)

Outdoor School: Tree, Wildflower, and Mushroom Spotting, by Mary Kay Carson

How do you know if that weed growing in your backyard actually is common liverwort? Does stinging nettle really sting? How do you recognize poison ivy? Find out all this and more in the newest edition of outdoor school. (Ages 8-13.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

Focus on Food

Focus on Food

The Best of Both Worlds

Poke takes the mainland

Story and Photograph by Rose Shewey

If you are on the periphery of pop culture, you will likely miss a number of trends, hypes and hashtags. I am fine with the general concept of it. In fact, I am quite comfortable in my state of pop-apathy, unruffled by much of the noise and excitement of mainstream culture. However, it also means I occasionally miss out on something of value. In terms of food, I wish I had paid attention about five years ago when poke bowls rose to fame and conquered the mainland.

Not only was I snoozing on this tasty development but, without giving it much thought, I assumed that poke bowls were of Japanese origin. In my defense, as a native to Central Europe, far removed from any island living, what was I to think of a dish served with sushi rice, raw fish, chopsticks and pickled ginger? (Unsurprisingly, the mainland rendition of poke differs significantly from authentic island poke, but I’ll get to that in a minute). If you, like myself, were off by about 4,000 miles and didn’t know poke is a traditional Hawaiian dish, you’re in good company. I have since learned that, unless you are greeted at the door by aloha signs and grass skirt-wearing waiters, not many people seem to know (or care) where poke comes from as long as it tastes good. And I can get on board with this.

A purist at heart, I’m torn when it comes to straying from tradition; talk about (con)fusion cooking. If the heart of the matter is preserved — which is highly subjective, of course — I’m generally in favor of mixing things up, but please make it an homage to the original, or call it something else. Original Hawaiian poke’s roots go back to when the first Polynesians came to the island. Supposedly, Captain James Cook was served poke during a visit to Hawaii in the late 18th century. Poke literally means “to slice, cut crosswise into pieces.” What is typically served as a simple snack on the island morphed into a wholesome meal on the continent.

To honor tradition as well as to indulge in the playful bowl-culture of our time, making octopus “tako” poke gets you the best of both worlds, without too much of a compromise. Unless you drown your poke in spicy mayo, then you cannot be helped. Octopus, alongside tuna, is one of the classically used poke ingredients; you can do as the islanders do and eat it raw, without sides, or serve it hipsterville-style on a bed of rice with seaweed and avocado. Either way is scrumptious and definitely picture-worthy.


Tako Poke Bowl  (Serves 2)

For the bowl

12-16 ounces baby octopus, cooked

3 cups sushi rice, cooked

For the relish

1 medium-size tomato, diced

3 tablespoons shoyu (can substitute soy sauce or tamari)

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

Additional optional toppings: sliced avocado, cucumbers and radishes, sprouts, toasted sesame seeds, julienned carrots, roe, pickled ginger, seaweed flakes or salad.

Cut octopus into bite-sized pieces. In a small bowl, combine ingredients for the relish and mix well. Add octopus, stir once more to combine, cover and chill before serving. To serve, add sushi rice to a bowl, top with tako (octopus) poke and add additional ingredients of your choice.  PS

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

In the Spirit

In the Spirit

Mind Your Vermouth

And reignite your passion

By Tony Cross

If you ask any of my friends or family about their knowledge of vermouth, their answers would more than likely fall into three categories.

The first group enjoys vermouth: They make their own cocktails at home on a weekly basis; they more than likely have their favorites when it comes to the subject of fortified wine; their vermouth is refrigerated and not spoiled.

The second group kind of knows about vermouth, and they might have a bottle of sweet vermouth in their kitchen, but it’s been collecting dust on their little liquor shelf ever since the pandemic lockdown when, on a whim, they wanted to make a Manhattan because they saw it on Mad Men.

In the third group — and this includes someone I personally know — when asked what they know about vermouth, they respond with a terrible French accent and talk like Inspector Clouseau.

Here are a few suggestions to elevate your game from bad first-period French to kick-ass martini. Just remember, once opened, these bottles must stay in your fridge, where they can last a couple of months. As the inspector would say, “Until we meet again and the case is sol-ved.”

Mancino Vermouth (Bianco Ambrato)

This Italian vermouth has gained a lot of popularity in the past decade, and for good reason. I’ve had a few of their different styles and they’re all delicious — on their own and in cocktails. For those who are completely unfamiliar with vermouth, pour this over a glass of ice with an orange wedge and try to pick out what lands on your tastebuds. There are 37 aromatic herbs infused in this soft and dry Trebbiano di Romagna wine, including elderflower, chamomile, mint and orange.

Drink: Pour 3 1/2 ounces over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with orange wedge. You may also add 1/2 to 1 ounce in your gin and tonic.

Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth

This is one of my favorite sweet vermouths for making cocktails. It’s super approachable to drink with huge notes of orange and vanilla. It’s fantastic in a Manhattan, and it’s great on its own over crushed ice with an orange wedge. Grab a bottle and give it a try — just remember to put it in the fridge. If you love it as much as I do in a Manhattan, try the recipe I found in The Infused Cocktail Handbook, by Kurt Maitland.

Drink: Poughkeepsie (courtesy of Laura Bellucci and Belle Epoque)

2 ounces Angel’s Envy Bourbon

1 ounce chamomile-infused Carpano Antica

2 dashes Bitterman’s Boston Bittahs (that’s Boston for “bitters”)

Build ingredients in a mixing vessel, add ice, and stir until cocktail is cold and diluted properly. Strain over ice in an old-fashioned glass.

Chamomile-infused Carpano Antica

1 liter Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth

2 tablespoons loose-leaf chamomile tea

Place ingredients in a large mason jar and let the mixture steep at room temperature for 48 hours. Strain before using or storing in the fridge. For best results, use within two weeks. Please note that Carpano also makes smaller bottles (375 milliliters); it might be a good idea to start small. Just adjust the amount of chamomile tea to 1 tablespoon, instead of 2.

Dolin Blanc Vermouth de Chambéry

This is also one of my favorite vermouths, known for its clean, light, floral style. The Dolin Blanc — a style of bianco, like the Mancino above — is clear and has a touch of sweetness. It goes well with a variety of spirits, such as pisco, gin, blanco tequila and vodka. Infusing chamomile with this bianco makes a great spring drink! Not to be confused with the crisp and classic “dry” that Dolin produces (my favorite in a gin martini), the Dolin Blanc is more fun to play around with using fruits and herbal infusions. Strawberries with this vermouth in a highball cocktail with blanco tequila and sparkling water is easy sipping. I found the following recipe for banana-infused Dolin Blanc in the back of Death & Company’s newest book, Welcome Home. I’ll leave the rest of the drink to your creativity, but white rum is a good place to start.

Drink: Banana-Infused Dolin Blanc Vermouth

200 grams peeled, ripe (but not brown) banana

1 375 milliliter bottle Dolin Blanc vermouth (reserve the bottle)

Thinly slice the bananas. Combine them with the vermouth in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours. Strain through a paper coffee filter, Superbag or fine-mesh sieve lined with several layers of cheesecloth, then funnel back into the vermouth bottle and refrigerate until ready to use, up to three months.  PS

Tony Cross is a bartender (well, ex-bartender) who runs cocktail catering company Reverie Cocktails in Southern Pines.


In the Spirit

What’s the Rush?

Slow down and smell the Thai food

By Bill Fields

When I made late plans to travel south by car in January, I did something without hesitation for the first time. More than 35 years since the maiden drive I took along the Eastern Seaboard, I knew I was going to break up the 600-mile trip with an overnight stay going and coming. Thanks to a reservoir of hotel points, I booked a room north of Richmond on the way down and north of Baltimore on the way back — segments of roughly 400 and 200 miles in each direction.

It wasn’t a proud moment because it was an acknowledgement of the personal rather than automotive odometer, of the miles traveled since making a right turn on May Street in my Ford Escort in the fall of 1986, handwritten directions to New York City on the passenger seat. I’m sure I’ll make it in one shot again but also believe that Ashland, Virginia, and Middle River, Maryland, haven’t seen the last of me. (The tasty green curry at a Thai place a short walk from the hotel in the latter location will be a draw.)

I’ve made the drive dozens of times since that first journey north, once or twice a year, in the wake of celebration or sadness, for work and pleasure, alone and with a significant other. The early trips seem medieval. My tiny hatchback didn’t have air conditioning, and there had to be cash in the car for tolls. On the chaotic, traffic-choked approach to the George Washington Bridge during the summer heat, those two factors combined to make things fairly hellish — either sweat like a pig as you inched through the narrowing funnel of cars toward the toll-taker, or be cooler and breathe the fumes along the way.

Despite the predictable jams on Interstate 95, I’ve seldom chosen the longer, calmer, more scenic Interstate 81-U.S. Route 220 path. Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment, but the longer, indirect, more inland trip has never been my preference. Being so groggy that I had to pull over for a few minutes near Asheboro on the home stretch once when I traveled that way might have influenced my thinking.

Going the usual way without an overnight stop, the drive from Connecticut (first Stamford, and for a long time, Fairfield) to Southern Pines or vice versa ranges from 11 to 13 hours: the fastest (9 hours, 15 minutes) and slowest (19 1/2 hours), each beginning at my customary 4 a.m. start time. I recall the first happening with extraordinarily light traffic, only a couple of quick stops and my having an unusual lead foot. The second was a nightmarish wintertime journey heading north, black ice on bridges forcing a lengthy pause before even getting into Virginia. The weather cleared until we reached southern New Jersey, where it began snowing heavily. With no hotel vacancies, we poked along in the near blizzard, stopping only to clear the ice-encrusted wipers, making it home well after midnight, as road weary as I’ve ever been.

I’ve had SiriusXM in my car the last few years, a luxury that helps the time pass on the long rides. Satellite radio and the ability to make hands-free calls are a far cry from the old days, when it took a surgeon’s touch on the dial to get an uncooperative distant station, and it felt like a win when songs outmuscled the static for a while. I fondly remember long-ago trips when I tuned in to C-SPAN Radio around Washington, D.C., for an entertaining two hours of Lyndon Johnson White House telephone recordings. (The Texan was at his earthy best in a conversation with Mr. Haggar about his needs on some custom-tailored slacks.)

On the second, shorter leg of my most recent trip south, I settled for Morning Edition on a couple of public radio stations as I drove through Virginia and North Carolina. Heading closer to the Sandhills, I was struck by how much new stuff was alongside U.S. Highway 1 near Sanford —MIRO Country Hams long gone now — north of Southern Pines, whose growth is now evident in all directions. As I exited onto Midland Road and presently pulled into Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club eager to walk 18 holes on a sunny and mild afternoon, I could feel my older, middle-age.  PS

Southern Pines native Bill Fields, who writes about golf and other things, moved north in 1986 but hasn’t lost his accent.

The Carriage House Rides Again

The Carriage House Rides Again

Style and originality reign in a chic pied-à-terre

By Deborah Salomon     Photographs by John Gessner


Somewhere, over the rainbow, James Walker Tufts and James Boyd can share a high five. They have found the perfect occupants for their respective villages: He plays golf. She rides. They are happily, healthfully retired, spending summers at their primary residence Up North — Ohio, that is. But when winter’s chill descends so do they, to Pinehurst, with her horse, of course.

“Such interesting people here,” says Linda Salvato.

As are they. Guy Salvato is an artist, graphic and otherwise, who worked at Manhattan’s slickest advertising agency during the Mad Men era. Most of his paintings are golf related. Linda was a consultant in health care marketing. Their primary Ohio home is a Cotswolds gatehouse, designed by an architect who traveled to the Cotswolds for inspiration.

Guy’s four sons are grown, married, with grandchildren of their own. So why not search out a pied-à-terre that pushed their respective buttons? Something quaint without being cloying, surrounded by a community of wine-sipping, cheese-nibbling, concert-going, philanthropic world citizens conversant in, well, just about everything.

No need for massive square footage — the great-grandchildren can stay elsewhere. Instead, a massive need for style and originality.

They were not aware of Pinehurst’s suitability until one of Guy’s sons discovered an international golf art seminar at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club.

Let’s go!

“I had been here in the ’90s but it was Linda’s first time,” Guy recalls.

While he was putt-erring around the village, Linda inquired if anybody kept horses. A drive down Young’s Road revealed the answer: “Perfect!” she exclaimed.

The “hunt” for lodging was on. Her requirements: stringent, including proximity to the village, with a historic component, maybe a juicy backstory.

You can’t get much more historic than a wood shingle Colonial Revival multi-unit residence (sounds better than “boarding” or “apartment” house) built by Old Man Tufts himself, in 1896, the same year Pinehurst was founded. The elongated structure stretched across the corner of Palmetto and Cherokee roads. Construction cost: $1,650.


A carriage house with hayloft was added about 1921. When the carriage trade declined, garage doors were installed to accommodate the family roadster. Perhaps because the property attracted more transients than blue bloods, little mention of Palmetto’s history or occupants survives in the society pages.

A subsequent owner renamed it Cloverleaf, described as being located near one of four gates in a fence meant to keep out wild pigs.

The property fell into disrepair. Neighbors (and the village appearance commission) branded it an eyesore until, according to The Pilot, the owner was cajoled into slapping on a coat of paint before the 2005 U.S. Open.

Then, in 2006, a local builder transformed the sad carriage house into two chic pieds-à-terre, adding a Palladian window to the atrium, a tiny skylight and enough moldings, paneled doors and ornate window frames with deep sills to wow a creative retired couple from Ohio.

Linda opened the door and exclaimed, “This is it!”

They snapped up Unit 10 in 2012, made some adjustments to a bathroom and moved in for the 2013 winter season.


Carriage houses, like Manhattan lofts, are rare, therefore precious. Never mind the steep flight of stairs or the modest 1,380 square footage. Concentrate, rather, on the character afforded by original mismatched pine floorboards, wall space for Guy’s golf paintings and a garden plot for this master gardener/cook. On the nights Guy doesn’t prepare an Italian original, village bistros are within walking distance.

Next came a wicked pleasure enjoyed by mature second homeowners: furnishing rooms from scratch in a breezy style dubbed “Online Eclectic,” with the exception of a rare Wells Fargo (stagecoach company, not bank) desk Linda found while strolling through the shops in Cameron.

“We both have decent design sense,” Guy notes, so no need for an interior designer. Shades of seafoam, sand, gray, vanilla and other pale neutrals flow into each other. Stylized patterns on bedroom fabrics add whimsy, while uncluttered surfaces throughout make small rooms appear larger.


Uncluttered, however, doesn’t mean empty. Or boring. Brightly painted tin cans line one wall shelf. Wood-turned bowls, dramatic examples of craft art, sit center stage on a tall dining area table seating four but folding out to accommodate eight. The kitchen is a little gem. An old-timey Pinehurst equestrian poster speaks for Linda. A golf bag anchors a corner. Guy’s stylized golf tee painting dominates a wall. That he and Andy Warhol traveled in the same New York circles is no surprise since both worked in ad illustration. Nor is Guy’s regret for not saving some of the pop artist’s discards. In 2022, one from a Marilyn Monroe series sold at auction for $195 million.

With the plantation shutters open and sun streaming from the tiny skylight, the residence with multiple ceiling pitches and lovely landscaping feels like a treehouse. To describe interior décor as hard to describe is the ultimate compliment.


The Carriage House beside Palmetto House, after a century of multiple owners and iterations, finished a win-win. The Tufts-Boyd plan worked. Old Town gained another historic reclamation. And two transplants from the Midwest — plus a retired racehorse of championship lineage — discovered nothing could be finer than to winter in Carolina.

“Being here, I feel a sense of relief,” says Linda, who rides almost daily. “I feel energized to do things I wouldn’t do up north.”

“I love doing the exterior work,” and playing golf, of course, Guy adds. “I worked hard for many years. I looked forward to something like this.”

Linda’s summation: “Two beautiful homes and everything else . . . we do have a blessed life.”  PS



Chocoholics Beware

Lemon might be gaining on you

By Ruth Moose

A chocoholic I am not. On a desserts table with lots of chocolate and other dark delights I can take or leave the chocolate stuff. I leave it for those who would kill their own mother for a bite of anything chocolate. Not me. I don’t even, forgive me friends, like Oreos. No. Never. I must be in the minority everywhere.

A friend told me that once in the ditch of despair during a diet, and dying for chocolate, she had not trusted herself to have even the least bit of chocolate of any kind in her house. Then, in sheer desperation, she climbed high and hunted deep in every corner of every cabinet and finally hidden behind rusted tins of Old Bay and boxes of baking soda, she laid her hands on a long forgotten and now dusty can of pure cocoa. She pried off the lid and dug in, eating every smidge with her bare hand then licking her fingers. That’s desperation. That, my friends, is a chocoholic!

I grew up with good Scottish people who, if it came to the last crumb on the plate, would fight over a caramel layer cake or, even better, a brown sugar pound cake with burnt sugar icing. I’ve seen it happen at church picnics and potluck dinners.

In a show of support for anything other than chocolate I once entered a cupcake contest sponsored by the Chapel Hill Historical Society. First prize, $100. I wanted to see if something, anything, could beat chocolate.

So I spent some weeks developing a lemon cupcake. Not just any old lemon cupcake but an over-the-top and knock-your-senses-to-the-moon lemon cupcake. I mixed. I baked. I tasted. I added. I subtracted. Until I finally ended up with marinating some mango and embedding it in the middle. I made a lemon icing, fluffy and tart, and in a flourish, sprinkled on shredded coconut. It even looked prize winning.

On the day of judging the downtown historic house had three rooms filled with tables full of cupcakes. Rows, double and triple deep, with cupcakes. Every kind of chocolate. It was chocolate heaven. The air felt heavy with the scent of chocolate, so heavy you could taste it when you breathed in.

I felt very small, greatly outnumbered, and wished I had never in a million years decided to take on the world of chocolate. I was a very small David in a room filled with cocoa Goliaths. Until, out in the front yard, filled with cupcake lovers who paid $10 for as many as they could eat, the judges announced their decisions. Third went, of course, to one of the many, many chocolate cupcakes. No surprise.

I held my breath and hugged the tiny amount of hope I still had left. Second went to . . . Shaggy Lemon Cupcakes with Marinated Mango in the Middle. Mine! I got a fancy, official award certificate and a $25 gift card from a local stationery shop. Later, one of the losers said to me out of the corner of her mouth, “Your title’s what won it.”

I didn’t care. Lemon had placed. Lemon had beaten out chocolate.

The first prize, the big prize winning cupcake — when it was announced and the 13-year-old girl went up to claim her award and get her $100 check — was a plain-Jane vanilla cupcake with plain vanilla icing. After gasping, the applause was wide and astonished. Not only had lemon beaten out chocolate, vanilla had, too. The judges praised the texture of the vanilla cupcake and, of course, the delicate but absolutely perfect flavor of vanilla.

So there you go, chocoholics. You may outnumber those of us of other persuasions, but we still sometimes win a prize or two. Sometimes.  PS

Ruth Moose taught creative writing at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for 15 years and tacked on 10 more at Carolina Central Community College.

Golftown Journal

Golftown Journal

The Show Must Go On

Golf’s merchants get back to business

By Lee Pace

It was the final day of the 2020 PGA Show in Orlando when news hit American shores that the streets of the Chinese city of Wuhan had fallen silent, with some 11 million people put under tight quarantine after a mysterious illness began circulating in a wet market a month earlier. Little did the clubmakers, the apparel vendors, gadget innovators and the 40,000 visitors to the golf industry’s premier trade show realize their world would come to a screeching halt in six weeks as COVID-19 gripped the globe.

The PGA Show was canceled in 2021, ending a streak of conclaves dating to 1954, when vendors sold wares out of car trunks at a winter PGA golf tournament in Dunedin, Florida. A scaled-down version was held in 2022, with some 15,000 attendees and half the usual number of exhibitors. 

Yet the health of golf remained robust during the pandemic. A foursome in the great out-of-doors was Exhibit A for social distancing. The game has gotten even stronger — witness Pinehurst Resort saying in January that nine golf courses aren’t enough.

And the 2023 PGA Show in Orlando in late January reflected that with a remarkable rebound of its own. The Orange County Convention Center was back to near-full capacity, and the golf industry flocked en masse and sans masks to another edition of old home week. 

After two days of trekking the aisles and wagging the chin, I came away with some ideas on swinging faster, practicing more effectively and walking more comfortably.

Swing Hard: Marty Jertson is a club designer for the PING manufacturing company based in Phoenix, a PGA of America member and an occasional qualifier for PGA Tour events and major championships. He missed the cut in the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club and was frustrated by seeing other pros bomb tee shots a half-wedge shot farther than him. 

“I packed my bag that Friday feeling debilitated,” Jertson says. “My life’s goal was to play the weekend in a major. I knew then I didn’t stand a chance if I didn’t get some distance — a lot of distance.”

Through his work designing more than 100 clubs and balls for PING, Jertson was friends with Sasho MacKenzie, an authority in golf instruction and the biomechanics of speed generation. MacKenzie had been compiling data over several years on overspeed training (swinging a headless golf club as hard as possible) and overload training (swinging a headless club that weighs more than your driver).

They combined Jertson’s clubmaking acumen with MacKenzie’s science and created the prototype for a product that would be launched in February 2021 as The Stack System. Jertson did the work over 2018-19, qualified for the PGA at Bethpage Black in 2019, and made the cut with his newfound length.

“A year later at the PGA, I had tons of speed,” he says. “I was hitting it 30 yards longer. That was the key to me making the cut and having a dream week. It was borne out of personal frustration. Sasho had all the research, the algorithms, the data, the exercise science behind it.”

The device they have created features a training club and five weights that enable 30 unique weight combinations. The accompanying iPhone app sets up your program according to your needs and guides you through setting the club and workouts with the proper weights. Three times a week, you go through a training regimen swinging the club and training your body and mind to generate speed.

“We took my own frustration and passed it on to the market,” Jertson says. “We’ve literally helped thousands of golfers.”

Lean Left: Have trouble keeping your weight on your left side (for a right-handed golfer) on chip and pitch shots? The Chipping Plate from Why Golf is a foolproof antidote. You simply stand on the bright orange plate and address your shot with your weight on your left side. If you move off the ball, the base of the plate will tilt to the right. Instant feedback.

Why Golf is headquartered in Escondido, California, and pledges with its golf training aids to “make the hardest sport less hard.” The company’s display booth featured one sign saying, “Suck less at golf.”

“To stop chunking the s**t out of your chips, keep at least 2/3 of your weight on your front foot throughout the swing,” reads the descriptive passage on the company order page. “When you do that on the Chipping Plate, it’ll stay flat. If you don’t, it will tilt back. If you still aren’t getting it, you’d best consider taking up a different sport.”

The company’s Pressure Plate works on the same concept with the full swing and helps you transfer your weight to your left side early in the downswing. Why Golf also introduced at the PGA Show the Arm Alarm, which uses wristbands and an attached cord to give real-time feedback on arm structure while helping golfers keep their elbows close to each other throughout the swing.

Tread Lightly: True Linkswear is the Cadillac golf shoe for the walking golfer.

The company set out in 2009 with Ryan Moore (the PGA Tour golfer) and brother Jason to make the consummate golf shoe for walkers, with Jason saying that traditional golf shoe manufacturers built “the equivalent of dress shoes — over-engineered, techy-looking foot cages.” They have built a business around selling shoes that look and feel more like an athletic shoe with outsoles designed and built so a golfer can better feel the terrain with his feet. The shoes arrive in a brown box with the words “Enjoy the Walk” printed on the top. 

“Ever had that sensation you can read the greens under your feet?” Jason asks. “These shoes allow the player to feel the course like never before.”

I met Moore at the PGA Show in 2018 while writing Good Walks and came away with a pair of the company’s headliner Knit I shoe, an ultra-lightweight shoe that the company touted as feeling like you were wearing a sock. Now the Knit III has been introduced. An enhanced midsole keeps your feet more secure during the swing, and the reinforced heel pad makes it impossible to get a blister.

“We took everything that worked in the early shoe and made it a little better,” says company executive Brandon Wallach. “There is slightly more athletic shaping. There is a new compound midsole that gives you more stability in your swing. And we’ve eliminated the chance of a slight rubbing on the heel. Thirty-six holes — no problem with this shoe.” 

The only downside of the Knit models are they are not waterproof. So if you’re playing on a Southern summer morning with the Bermuda rough heavy with dew, True’s waterproof models are a better fit. The Lux Hybrid was introduced in Orlando and is made with the same knit material so it breathes and lets air in, but it’s waterproof so it keeps the moisture out. It features a stylish leather saddle on either side of the uppers.

It’s just a slightly better mousetrap. The Orange County Convention Center was full of those at the PGA Show. It had to be to keep up with the appetite of a hearty golf market.  PS

Lee Pace has written Golftown Journal since 2008. Contact him at leepace7@gmail.com and follow him on Instagram at @leepaceunc and on Twitter @leepacetweet.