WALTER Magazine - December 2020

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The The TheArt Art Art&& &Soul Soul Soul of of of Raleigh Raleigh Raleigh

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DECEMBER DECEMBER DECEMBER 2020 2020 2020

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DEPARTMENTS

Volume IX, Issue 4 DECEMBER 2020

SP Murray (Jim Annis); Jillian Ohl (DRINK)

24

OUR TOWN 22

WALTER’S HOLIDAY PLAYLIST

42

CULTURE: The Greatest Story Black Nativity at 10 years

24

GIVERS: Sanford’s Santa Jim Annis crafts wooden toys to share with families in need

46

SIMPLE LIFE: Becoming My Father Jim Dodson considers his age

28

LOCALS: Any Questions? Frank Stasio on The State of Things

31

GIGS: The Gingerbread Woman Grier Rubeling’s unique craft

34

CREATORS: Art in Service Rosalia Torres-Weiner’s blossoms

38

DRINK: 12 Days of Holiday Cocktails Seasonal beverages for any palate

IN EVERY ISSUE 12

Letter from WALTER

16

Contributors

17

Your Feedback

18

Happening Now

87

The Whirl

96

End Note: 2020, Baby

38 On the cover: Santa hits Person Street; photography by Bryan Regan

8 | WALTER

The Art & Soul of Raleigh



FEATURES

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Merry Moments A photographer’s challenge to snap every day reveals a festive city by Ayn-Monique Klahre photography by Bryan Regan

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Christmas Stories, Somewhat But Mostly Not True Tales from seasons past offer wisdom by Daniel Wallace illustration by Ippy Patterson

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68

Hometown Humbug Ira David Wood III’s A Christmas Carol has built a community within its cast by Melissa Howsam photography by Bryan Regan

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All Angles In her jewelry and sculpture, Sarah West uses geometry by Jessie Ammons Rumbley photography by Taylor McDonald

Sweet Sundays The Yellow Dog Bread Co. family builds memories in the bakery by Addie Ladner photography by Eamon Queeney

The Art & Soul of Raleigh

Bryan Regan (SKYLINE); Eamon Queeney (BOY)

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Happy Holidays! PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIELLE DOUGLAS

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tories can carry us through hard times; they help us celebrate grit and find purpose in adversity. In this issue, Daniel Wallace’s short Christmas stories (pg. 58) do just that, proving that you don’t need much to find joy and wonder in the season. Toy maker Jim Annis, too, shows that the leanest holidays can pave the way towards decades of good (pg. 24). The Justice Theater Project is producing a made-for-the-screen version of Black Nativity that will still incorporate the soaring songs, brilliant costumes and moving dances that bring the narrative to life (pg. 42). Our look at Ira David Wood III’s A Christmas Carol, another Raleigh favorite we’ll enjoy on screen this year, offers a glimpse behind the scenes, and at families forged within its cast (pg. 68). As we worked on this issue, it became clear that this holiday season will be about reworking the traditions most dear to us; distilling them to their essence so that we can keep them up through the pandemic. Perhaps you’ll be inspired by the family behind Yellow Dog Bread Co.: their December ritual includes making cookies

together on Sunday mornings (pg. 62). Or take a cue from Grier Rubeling to level up your gingerbread game (pg. 31). I may not have the talent (or power tools) to craft at her level, but it certainly motivates me to be more creative. This issue marks the last of 2020, and also a first for WALTER. In October, we transitioned to new ownership under The Pilot LLC, the North Carolina publisher of PineStraw in Pinehurst, O.Henry in Greensboro and SouthPark in Charlotte, and this is our debut as part of the team. We’re pleased to join our sister publications in celebrating arts and culture in our fine state. Keep an eye out for some new names in here, including columns from The New York Times best-selling authors Wiley Cash and James Dodson. From all of us at WALTER, we wish you the happiest of holidays.

Ayn-Monique Klahre Editor



EDITORIAL

PUBLISHING

VOLUME IX, ISSUE 4

Editor

Interim Publisher

DECEMBER 2020

AYN-MONIQUE KLAHRE

SARA GLINES

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Contributing Writers

Walter Events

WYLIE CASH, FINN COHEN, CATHERINE CURRIN, JIM DODSON, MIRANDA EVON, HAMPTON WILLIAMS HOFER, MELISSA HOWSAM, DAVID MENCONI, JESSIE AMMONS RUMBLEY DANIEL WALLACE, LORI D.R. WIGGINS

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CONTRIBUTORS

DECEMBER 2020

BIG THINGS IN STORE

IN 2021

AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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JAMES DODSON /

BRYAN REGAN /

W R I TE R James (“Jim”) Dodson is the New York Times Bestselling author of 15 books including Final Rounds and A Golfer’s Life with Arnold Palmer. His latest book is The Range Bucket List. A son of North Carolina, recipient of the Order of the Longleaf Pine Society and numerous national and regional writing awards, including the William Allen White Award for Public Affairs Journalism and four Books of the Year in the golf world, Dodson is also the Founding Editor of PineStraw, O.Henry, and Salt magazines, as well as Seasons Style & Design. He was also involved in the creation of WALTER. “WALTER truly has become the distinctive voice of the Capital region and a welcome partner in our quest to tell the stories of our state.”

P HOTOGR A PH ER Bryan Regan is a Raleigh-based photographer specializing in environmental, lifestyle, studio portraits and product photography. Dropping out of design and photography school, back when people still shot film, Regan learned his craft crisscrossing the country assisting other photographers. Six years working in Las Vegas was too much and Regan moved back to the city he loved. He’s had a studio downtown for 17 years When he’s not booked, he’s out shooting personal projects and spending time with his family. “The holidays are my favorite time of the year and I’m excited to share them in this issue.”

JILLIAN OHL / I L L U S TR ATO R Jillian Ohl is an artist and illustrator who creates mixed media works on paper using watercolor, acrylic, ink and collage. Originally from Winston-Salem, Ohl studied Art + Design at N.C. State University and soon fell in love with the Raleigh art community. After living in Raleigh for several years, she recently moved to St Louis, Missouri to earn her MFA in Illustration at Washington University. Although she is on the other side of the Mississippi River, her heart is still in Raleigh and she can’t wait to spend the holidays in North Carolina. “These holiday cocktails were so much fun to paint! I am absolutely ready to get into the holiday spirit, and I’m eager to try mixing these drinks at home.”

MIRANDA EVON / WR I T ER Miranda Evon is a writer born and raised in Raleigh. She is a recent writing graduate from Savannah College of Art and Design and a previous editorial intern at WALTER. Perhaps because her mother works in an assisted care facility, Evon particularly enjoys profiling the older residents of our community, sharing their stories and passions. “I was so happy to have the opportunity to visit Jim Annis’s workshop, and it was deeply inspiring to hear about his love for giving back to less fortunate children. Watching him sing and dance while crafting wooden toys was like watching Santa Claus in his workshop.”

Courtesy contributors

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YOUR FEEDBACK

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“Hi Jaki- Loved your poetry paired with Julie Leonard’s photography. My favorite is: A single slant of light is always an invitation to bloom wherever you are.” —Lynn Alker via Instagram “Huge thank you to @waltermagazine for publishing this incredible article! We are so grateful to be a part of Larry’s journey! It has been amazing watching his progress over the years. Remy and Larry are two wonderful people we are so glad to have.” —Jawbreaker Boxing via Instagram

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Matt Register poses with a copy of the November issue. “Just got my WALTER in the mail today, and I look forward to reading this issue cover to cover this weekend!” —Lisa McIntosh “I just wanted to say that I love, love, LOVE the Jaki Shelton Green/Juli Leonard article! A great reminder to take a pause and look for beauty in quiet places… The article seemed so peaceful in a time when peacefulness can be difficult to find.” —Susan Murray

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Happening

all month LET THERE BE LIGHT PACK SOME HOT CHOCOLATE AND DRIVE OR WALK TO ENJOY ONE OF THESE FESTIVE OUTDOOR DISPLAYS. Field Stream Farm Festival of Lights Drive out to the country for a holiday light extravaganza—around one million lights to be exact—on a farm that dates back to the late 1800s. Take a 15- to 30-minute cruise through a one-mile trail with all sorts of festive scenes, including a 40-foot Santa, an airport light display, beloved characters from Disney films and more. Purchase tickets online (encouraged) or at the farm. See website for details; $20 per car; 8008 Old Stage Road; fieldstreamfarm.com A Walking Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour This popular event in Raleigh’s charming 19th-century neighborhood gets a tweak this year: it’s all outside, with more than a dozen Victorian-era exteriors done up with gorgeous greenery, lights and more. Says Matthew Brown of the Society for the Preservation of Historic Oakwood: “We’re spreading the tour over 16 days—and the whole neighborhood—so everyone can safely enjoy the splendor!” December 12 - 27; free; see website for locations; historicoakwood.org Nights of Lights at Dix Park in Partnership with WRAL and Artsplosure Drive through this first-ever 1.3-mile light show and enjoy both stellar displays and local installations from artists like Nate Sheaffer and Mary Carter Taub. “This event features celebratory work by creative members of our community. The nature of this artwork is that it illuminates darkness, and we are hoping it will be a bright spot in people’s holiday as well,” says Artsplosure program director Cameron Laws. Taub says it will be “a buffer, a spirit lifter, that temporarily transports folks out of the uncertainty of 2020.” Hank Smith of Hank, Patty & The Current

18 | WALTER

December 16 - 31 (closed December 25), 5:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.; from $15 per car; 75 Hunt Drive; wral.com/lights

The Art & Soul of Raleigh

Tom Bagby (OAKWOOD); Bryan Regan (LIGHT)

WALTER’s roundup of events and activities in our community. For more ideas of things to do in December, visit waltermagazine.com.


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Happening Now

all month “The baby-boomer years were a time of more in America… including more toys,” says Katie Edwards, curator of popular culture at the North Carolina Museum of History. “We created this exhibit to showcase how toys reflected the issues and events of those times, including the space race, Vietnam War and gender roles. So it’s not only a fun trip down memory lane, but a chance to think critically about how objects mirror culture.” At the exhibit, visitors can see playthings come to life with fun, hands-on interactive activities. Relive your childhood with a larger-than-life Twister board, Etch-ASketch station or even a Name That Tune game featuring television Westerns. See website for hours; free; 5 E. Edenton Street; ncmuseumofhistory.org/toy-boom

all month

RALEIGH ROAD OUTDOOR THEATRE About 40 miles north of Raleigh, experience the cinema on the big screen, old-school style. Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre will be showing festive movies new and old, so grab your lawn chair and blanket—or stay comfy inside your car—while you listen to the show on your FM radio (you can rent one, if need be). No outside food or drink is permitted, but their menu includes theater favorites like popcorn, candy and fountain drinks, plus heartier options like burgers and fries. See website for details; from $5 per child, $8 per adult; 3336 Raleigh Road, Henderson; raleighroaddrivein.com

Courtesy Toy Boom (GRAPHIC)

TOY BOOM!


DECEMBER

all month Courtesy Vic‘s (WINE); courtesy Raleigh Night Market (SHOPPER); courtesy Master Chorale (CHORALE); Rachel Neville (NUTCRACKER).

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Stream a recorded version of Ira David Wood III's A Christmas Carol anytime this month to enjoy his joke-filled, musical take on the classic story of Scrooge’s redemption. Learn more about what goes on with the cast behind the scenes of the production on page 68. Starting December 1; from $37.54 for individual link; theatreinthepark.com.

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BLACK NATIVITY The Justice Theater Project is offering an all-new take on Langston Hughes’ groundbreaking musical Black Nativity, written and directed by N.C. Central theater department chair Dr. Asabi (Stephanie Howard). Learn more about how the script, music and dance in the 2020 production are being adapted for video on page 42. See website for details; from $15 for individual link; virtual; thejusticetheaterproject. org/show-details/2020/black-nativity

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JOY OF THE SEASON Experience the Master Chorale’s annual Joy of the Season concert from your cozy couch this year. The virtual performance will include holiday classics like Joy to the World and Silent Night, as well as intricate arrangements of old English and Baroque fare, and jazzy takes on modern pop. 7:30 p.m; $15 per ticket; virtual; ncmasterchorale.org/season

2

VIC’S ITALIAN WINE DINNER What better way to stay warm and relaxed this holiday season than over a leisurely, hearty Italian dinner and a little vino? Nestled in the cobblestone streets of City Market, Vic’s offers a five-course chef-prepared wine dinner the first Wednesday of every month. Past menu selections include rustic vegetable soup, Peperoni Ripieni (sweet red and yellow peppers filled with risotto, peas, smoked mozzarella and saffron) and unique Italian wines paired with each course. This month, expect an extra special holiday meal: “We decorate the restaurant, and my dad, who moved here from Calabria and opened the first pizza place in the Triangle in the 1970s, buys a ton of Panettone cakes to sell,” says Michael Longo, the restaurant’s general manager. “It’s very festive, Italian-style.” 7 p.m.; $60 per person; 331 Blake Street; vicsitalianrestaurant.com/city-market

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HOLIDAY BAZAAR AT MOORE SQUARE MARKET Find something special for a loved one —while supporting more than 40 regional artisans at the same time—at Raleigh Night Market’s open-air Moore Square Bazaar. A sample of vendors includes Dew Drop Chocolates, Mama’s Salsa, Kettu Woodworks and Wind Blown Jewelry. Listen to live entertainment while you shop safely: tables will be placed six feet apart with hand sanitizer nearby, and both shoppers and vendors are required to wear masks. Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m, Sunday 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.; 226 E. Martin Street, search “Holiday Bazaar at Moore Square” on Facebook for details.

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NUTCRACKER WRAL-TV, PNC and Carolina Ballet have teamed up to bring the magic of the Nutcracker into your home in a live broadcast performance. This year, the Sugar Plum Fairy will be played by principal dancer Margaret Severin-Hansen, one of the founding members of the ballet troupe. “She is the last of our founding dancers that still takes the stage,” says Carolina Ballet communications director Sara E. Reichle. “We also have quite a few new young dancers who will be performing Nutcracker with us for the first time.” 7 p.m.; free; televised on WRAL-TV Channel 5; carolinaballet.com/2020-2021-season


O Our

The (Annotated) WALTER Holiday Playlist Evergreen songs come from far and wide—but from right here, too. Artists from in and around the Triangle have contributed a solid number of songs to the holiday canon. Consider this selection from music critic David Menconi.

A bonafide gospel legend, Caesar is head pastor at Mt. Calvary Word of Faith ith Church.

1. ON THIS CHRISTMAS DAY Joe Newberry (2005)

2. SLEIGH RIDE

The Chapel Hill hot-jazz hitmakers make this seasonal chestnut sound like something you might have heard in a New Orleans speakeasy.

Squirrel Nut Zippers (1998)

3. SANTA HAD A WRECK WREC CK Terry Anderson & the O.A.K. Team (2006)

4. HARK! THE HERALD D ANGELS SING Shirley Caesar (1998)

5. I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

The T only place this was ever released was on Volume One of the hard-to-find Have o a Holly Raleigh Christmas compilation series. “Growing up, I loved the music to claymation Christmas specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” says the t song’s producer, Jeff Carroll. “Later, I learned I have a distant relative who worked on the music for that stuff.”

Tift Merritt (2003)

“Christmas music can be so hokey, and really glaze over the grittier kind of strength and love that home is all about,” bout,” says Merritt. “But we found an old gospel version of this song that seemed to speak to that. The producer, Peter Collins, kept saying, Let’s go a little lower, pushing g my vocal down into a register where it’s really quiet and down-low. I’m proud ud of how it came out.”

6. AWAY IN A MANGER Blind Boys of Alabama (2003)

7. I HEAR (CLICK, CLICK, CLICK) The Rosebuds (2012)

8. BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE Nnenna Freelon & John Brown Big Band (2012)

9. MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY Southern Culture on the Skids (1995)

On which the Grammy-nominated jazz singer from Durham and bandleader der Brown engage in some playful banter. er. It’s a highlight of their album, Christmas. mas. The R&B classic never had it so good od as on this version by Chapel Hill’s kings gs of trailer-park roots rock, Southern Culture ulture on the Skids. It’s from the Geffen Re26 | WALTER cords compilation Just Say Noel. l l. 22 | WALTER

10. HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS James Taylor (2006)

LISTEN UP! Find a link to our holiday Spotify playlist on waltermagazine.com o

Blind Boys of Alabama co-founder George Scott lived much of his life in Durham. He sings lead on this version of D the th 19th century hymn, accompanied by Kannapolis native George Clinton. The Raleigh indie-rock duo of Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp made Christmas H Tree Island, a rare holiday album with allTr original songs. “Growing up, you didn’t o even realize you were absorbing Christe mas m music because it’s around so much,” ssays Crisp. “The songs I loved were the ones that rocked, and the music is so bubbly—you bu can use as many bells as you want and get away with it. This song has w vocals from Ivan’s mom and aunt, too.” v The Chapel Hill ex-pat gets in touch w with the melancholy side of the season with his take on the 1944 standard. The Art & Soul of Raleigh

Getty Images (SANTA)

“I wrote it in holiday time, snow all over, and a phrase came to mind: Snow falls ’round the manger and love melts it away. way. A minute later came, Greet the host of angels on this Christmas day. Once I had that, at, the rest spilled out,” says Newberry. “I sent the lyrics to my late sister, a pastor, and she had one tweak: the wise men were still on their way, so travel and unravel avel needed to be in the present tense.” e.”



GIVERS

Sanford ’s SANTA Jim Annis crafts year-round so that no child goes without a toy by MIRANDA EVON photography by S.P. MURRAY

J

im Annis remembers Christmas mornings as a child with no toys underneath the Christmas tree. “I grew up in a poor family, and I never got toys on Christmas,” says Annis. “So now I make toys for children who might not get anything either.” Some may call him a real-life Santa Claus, but to this Army veteran, he’s just

24 | WALTER

a country boy who grew up in Petoskey, Michigan, and now makes wooden toys in his workshop in Sanford, North Carolina. At 81 years old, Annis has been crafting wooden toys for children for nearly 50 years. Around Christmastime, he devotes his time to the Salvation Army of Lee County. Whether it’s dancing with the

children through their Joy for Others at Yuletide program, painting wooden trucks and cars with veterans at Veterans Administration Hospital in Fayetteville or working alongside local firefighters at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill, Annis never goes emptyhanded. He is always toting a box of toys, filled to the brim, giving them out to children or those in need. The Art & Soul of Raleigh


This page: Priestess Rose. Opposite: Staff and scenes inside The Holy Rose.

When he’s not handing out toys, Annis spends his days in his workshop building, painting and assembling. Each year, he’ll make more than 350 toys to prepare for the most wonderful time of the year. According to his wife, Elba: “I have my home, the main house, and he has his, the workshop.” Jim Annis’ workshop sits in the backyard of his small white home in Lee County. Beyond the blue wooden doors lies what looks like a scene from the North Pole, outfitted with everything but the elves. Saws take up almost the entirety of the room and sawdust litters every inch of the floor. Spare wood is stored behind stacks of boxes, and unfinished toys rest, half-painted, on the countertops. This actually used to be a dance studio where Annis taught clogging for decades. A sign hangs on the wall, reading Mr. Jim’s Dance Studio. Surrounding the sign are sports medals, plaques, awards


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and ribbons, all for his clogging. “God gave me my hands for crafting and my feet for dancing,” says Annis, kicking his feet and shimmying his shoulders. Annis says that when he volunteers, he brings his energy and dance moves along with the toys. “No one cheers up the kids as he does,” says Elba Annis. She accompanies her husband on most of his charity work, watching him dance in hospitals’ hallways or sing Christmas carols with children. Jim Annis’ toy-giving memories always end with a smile. A favorite: one Christmas at the Salvation Army of Lee County, a family came in to pick up their holiday package. Their little girl trailed behind, barely able to walk. Annis scooped her up, taking her over to the toys. “Her eyes just lit up,” says Annis. When he told her to pick out a toy, she pointed to a doll, asking if it was for her. “I told her she could have anything she wanted,” he says. “Makes my heart full.” Annis never had children of his own. After teaching clogging for 15 years and spending most of his Christmases donating wooden toys, those children have become his own. “I don’t do this for money,” Annis says. “The biggest payment for me is the smile I get from a child after giving them a toy. You can’t put a price on that.” If you would like to help Mr. Annis, he is always in need of wood. Contact us at info@ waltermagazine.com for more information.


Dine with peace of mind. Many of your favorite area restaurants are Ü «i v À ` i ] Ì> i ÕÌ À `i ÛiÀÞ ÃiÀÛ Vi° čÃ Þ Õ w ` Þ ÕÀ way back, perhaps to enjoy a meal with visiting family and friends, rest assured knowing your beloved eateries are following Count On Me NC guidelines and taking the necessary steps to keep you safe.

visitRaleigh.com/wishfamily


LOCALS

any QUESTIONS? Frank Stasio reflects on his tenure as The State of Things comes to an end by FINN COHEN photography by BOB KARP

F

or the last 14 years, Frank Stasio’s inviting timbre and inquisitive manner made WUNC’s The State of Things appointment listening. At noon nearly every weekday, Stasio has interviewed everyone from politicians and educators to artists, chefs, activists and

28 | WALTER

scientists with the same genuine curiosity and warmth. But this September, Stasio shocked listeners and colleagues alike when he announced that he’d be retiring. “Hosting The State of Things has been an illuminating and thrilling part of my journey,” he wrote in a note to the station’s staff. “The

sudden rupture created by the pandemic makes this the perfect moment to follow the adventure in new directions.” A few weeks later, WUNC announced they would stop broadcasting the show. Stasio has been a consistent examiner of North Carolina’s politics and culture. But as he put it recently, the tumultuous

The Art & Soul of Raleigh


events of this year made him re-examine his work. The daily task of contextualizing a broad spectrum of issues for listeners simply became untenable amid what has been a difficult year for nearly everyone. “My job is to frame a conversation, right?” Stasio says, a few weeks after his retirement announcement. “I find it difficult to put all of this in a frame because I don't want to see it in a frame; I want to watch it billow and fractal—these immeasurable, unstandard pieces have no rational conclusion.” Stasio, 67, had been cruising along for a few years, hosting the show four days a week (co-host Anita Rao covers the fifth) with the idea that he’d retire at 70, “a nice round number.” But by the middle of this year, he says, he didn’t feel right providing listeners with context when he was having trouble sorting through it all himself. “I’m not burned out,” he says. “I feel like what I'm doing isn't appropriate for

me in this moment.” Stasio has no immediate plans other than spending time with his four grandchildren in Durham. With them,

for commercial stations. This led him to Iowa, and similar jobs that he was less than excited by. “That was pretty miserable,” he says. “I didn’t want to do news;

“I don't want to see it in a frame; I want to watch it billow and fractal—these immeasurable, unstandard pieces have no rational conclusion.”—Frank Stasio he’s been sharing his first love: radio theater. Working with children should come easily, considering that Stasio took a six-year break from broadcasting in the middle of his career to help start a charter school in Washington, D.C. In fact, much of the professional path that led him to North Carolina has been a series of detours. Born in Buffalo, New York, Stasio did some radio production in college and fell into internships at news departments

it bores me.” Eventually Stasio found his way to National Public Radio and moved his family to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a newscaster until that innate curiosity got the best of him. He had become fascinated with children’s education, and when he heard that the Capital Children’s Museum was starting a radio station in 1989, he knocked on the door, looking for a way to help out. The museum was also starting a


school, and the director asked Stasio if he would be interested in teaching a radio production class. With two young children, a full-time job at NPR and no teaching experience, Stasio initially balked. But when he thought deeper about it, his tune changed. “If you’re listening to what is being asked of you in the big wide world, sometimes you just have to sort of answer that,” he says. He eventually quit NPR and took the teaching gig. “I was the only classroom teacher who was there both the day it opened and the day it closed.” The school closed in 1996, and Stasio returned to public radio, filling in for newscasting gigs and talk show hosts, where he honed his interview skills. He traveled around the country doing radio theater workshops and to former Soviet states across Europe to help stations there learn about independent journalism. Then he started getting calls to pick up some talk show gigs at WUNC, which in the early 2000s was trying to build a slate of such programs. “I started talking to people in North Carolina, and holy stuff,” he says. “I’d never been, including NPR, at a place where I could have this kind of deep conversation, really rich and meaningful conversations.” “I always tell people I feel like I learned how to ask questions [from him],” says Mary Surya, Stasio’s daughter, who laughed recalling the first time she ever voted. She called her dad for some advice: “I asked him, What am I supposed to vote for? And he was like, Are you serious? I'm not going to tell you what to vote for — let's talk about it. Let's discuss it. And I was like, Ahhh! There’s no time!” After a few years of traveling back and forth from D.C. to the Triangle, Stasio and his wife Joanne settled in Durham. As The State of Things became his full-time gig, North Carolina residents were gifted with an outsider’s fascinated perspective on their state. Lindsay Foster Thomas, a producer and editor at WUNC who worked with Stasio for years, saw his ability to

30 | WALTER

improvise in long-form interviews as “a unique talent.” “I had great confidence in collaborating with a host who knows how to get the best out of a conversation,” Thomas says. “One who listens deeply enough to be able to sustain whatever kind of length of time needs to be filled without feeling like they’re just trying to get to the end of the hour.” That personal touch is something Stasio says he adheres to for guests, especially ones with whom he may have conflicting political or social beliefs. Stasio has come to see part of his job as being a conduit for listeners, providing them with snapshots of their community, not polarizing rhetoric. Every guest, he says, is more than just the frame they’re put in for his show. “Don’t look at them as the role you’re asking them to play,” says Stasio. “It’s

you who’s casting them in a role.” That commitment to deep listening was apparent to Eleanor Spicer Rice, a Raleigh-based entomologist who has been on The State of Things twice. Her first appearance was also her very first radio interview, so she was pretty nervous. But Stasio spent some time with her before they went on the air, which made her feel at ease. “He just sat down with me like he had all the time in the world, and within three minutes, the conversation went from ants to Buddhism to collective consciousness,” says Rice. “He has such a beautiful breadth of knowledge that he touched on in this tiny amount of time.” Building connections through conversation is “a bit of theater that we do every day,” says Stasio. “And it should be; it should be theater in the highest and best sense.”

The Art & Soul of Raleigh


GIGS

the GINGERBREAD WOMAN Grier Rubeling has a talent for crafting with an unexpected medium by LORI D. R. WIGGINS photography by S.P. MURRAY

I

f the holiday season has visions of gingerbread dancing in your head, you better run, run, fast as you can—because Grier Rubeling has a huge head start.

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“For me, gingerbread season is all year,” Rubeling says. She’s not exaggerating: Rubeling is a national, award-winning, competitive gingerbread architect. She uses gingerbread like building

blocks, transforming the sturdy cookie into showcase-worthy creations that awe crowds and judges alike. She uses an arsenal of bakers’ tools—fondant, molding chocolate and a specially-developed gin-

DECEMBER 2020 | 31


Notes from gingerbread dough testings; Rubeling at work on a simple house.

gerbread recipe—as well as actual power tools to create her intricately detailed gingerbread sculptures. Gingerbread competitions start in November, so many gingerbread crafters begin thinking of ideas and honing techniques at least four months earlier. A single project can take weeks to assemble, and for true competitive gingerbreaders like Rubeling, the work to design, plan and bake begins even sooner—say, March—and sometimes as soon as the last competition ends. “If you really want to get into gingerbread, it’s all year ‘round,” Rubeling says. “It's fun and challenging and super versatile to work with, so I think every season is gingerbread season.” Rubeling met gingerbread in 2014 with a friend’s nudge to enter the Raleigh Winterfest Gingerbread House Competition. “I went, I won, and then I was addicted,” says Rubeling, who, in her former life, baked cakes and cupcakes for the office at her corporate job. “I just really like to create things with my 32 | WALTER

hands that people can appreciate.” Rubeling aims for crowd-pleasers. “My inspiration comes from something in my life that inspires me,” she says, adding that she purposely chooses ideas that “no one has ever seen before.” In 2016, Rubeling won the Cary Heart of the Holidays competition, and in 2018, she hit the national stage, winning third place at the National Gingerbread House Competition in Asheville. Inspired by the painting Dogs Playing Poker by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, Rubeling created an entry called Reindeer Playing Poker, a sculpture of four card-playing reindeer, complete with lime-garnished drinks, tiny cigars and a rug woven from lengths of gingerbread. The entry took days to complete and broke on the way to the competition, requiring nearly three hours of repair work—but it caught the attention of the Food Network. They invited her to compete with other top culinary talents in the network’s Haunted Gingerbread Showdown last fall. Rubeling won her

episode, themed When Aliens Attack, and went on to compete as a finalist for the $25,000 grand prize. She didn't win, but her friend, Meghan Morris of Apex, did, which made her happy. “I know Meghan from the gingerbread world, so if I didn’t win, I wanted her to win,” says Rubeling. Last year, Rubeling turned her artistry into King Gingerbread Nutcracker to compete in the Triangle Family Services Annual Gingerbread Benefit. She also entered the national competition in Asheville again with Viking Santa, which featured Saint Nick and some elves on a longship, riding a wave. Although she was pleased with the piece, it didn't place in the Top 10. That doesn’t bother her, because she’s got bragging rights that’ll linger a lifetime. “I can call myself a Food Network finalist for the rest of my life,” Rubeling laughs. Between managing her own consulting firm, perfecting the design and architecture of gingerbread, and enjoying time with her family (husband Kyle and daughters Eleanor and Evelyn), RubelThe Art & Soul of Raleigh


Courtesy Grier Rubeling

From the antlers to the cards to the planks of the floors, Reindeer Playing Poker is made entirely from gingerbread and other edible elements.

ing says, “I don’t really get to create just for fun anymore—only sometimes, but that’s what I love to do.” She shares much of her work on her blog, The Craft Crib. She started it years ago to share her DIY projects, including furniture makeovers, woodworking, crafting and designing Halloween decorations (and, of course, gingerbread creations). “What I really love to do is to

create things I can use for myself, and then make tutorials to teach others how to do it,” she says, acknowledging she’s no expert crafter. Rubeling says she simply loves it when folks comment on her posts, or try it themselves. It’s a passion Rubeling hopes to make her full-time focus, income included, perhaps with templates for gingerbread houses for others to use. “I’ve got big plans for myself.” Truth be told, when Food Network invited her to compete, Rubeling had to dig deep and push past her sense of imposter syndrome to take the national stage. “Notoriously, I’ve always underestimated my talent, so I thought I was woefully unprepared and unready for a Food Network show,” she says. “I kept thinking, they’re going to find out I don’t even know how to bake!” Even so, she says, “I’m all about rising to the challenge. The only way to find out what you’re capable of is to push yourself beyond the limit.”

That bravery landed Rubeling at the judges’ table for a 2019 gingerbread competition in Cary. “It’s helped me in my business; in all aspects of life,” Rubeling says, noting that today she’s less camera-shy and more confident speaking to competition big-wigs and media alike, with or without preparation. “I’m cool with it; I like it and it’s fun.” And, maybe, Rubeling imagines, “the Haunted Gingerbread Showdown might make it to Netflix. What a fun family experience that would be!” The whole family has gotten into it. “Now, my kids love gingerbread,” Rubeling says. “They get it!” Her daughters join Rubeling in the art of sculpting, painting and building her creations. “And I love that they are interested in this hobby that I found after three decades of my life,” she says. “I wish I had discovered it sooner. But I’m really excited my kids get to experience something I have a passion for. Who knows what they’ll be able to create?”


CREATORS

ART in SERVICE Rosalia Torres-Weiner’s flowers blossom by WILEY CASH photography by MALLORY CASH

P

eople begin arriving at 2 p.m. sharp on a Saturday afternoon at the Compare Foods Supermarket on Sharon Amity in east Charlotte: elderly men and women, families with small children, single mothers with babies on their hips—each of them carrying a distinctly different painting of bold, colorful flowers on 8x10 canvases. A few people appear uncertain, others seem excited to discover the source of the mystery that has brought them together. A message on the back of each painting has instructed them to arrive at this location on this day and at this time. Over the past several days, the paintings—a hundred of them, in fact—have been found scattered around the Queen City on park benches, at bus stops, and inside laundromats, places that one does not expect to find works of art, especially art of this caliber. The artist, Rosalia Torres-Weiner, is waiting for them, sitting on a folding chair outside her boldly painted art truck. It’s a repurposed 24-foot delivery truck that, before the pandem-

34 | WALTER

ic, Torres-Weiner used to deliver art supplies and arts education to the area’s underserved Latinx communities through her Red Calaca Mobile Art Studio program. Today, those communities are coming to her. Some people arrive speaking Spanish, others English, but Torres-Weiner, who was born and raised in Mexico City, moves effortlessly between the two languages, greeting everyone with a warm smile that cannot be denied, even by the mask she wears due to the continued rise in coronavirus cases in North Carolina, where the Latinx population has been particularly affected. Over the summer, it was reported that Hispanic people make up about 10 percent of North Carolina’s population, but they comprised roughly 46 percent of the state’s coronavirus cases. Torres-Weiner, a self-described “artivist” whose work is fueled by service to her community, felt called to respond to the devastating effects of the COVID-19 crisis. “All my work comes from the community, and while I obeyed

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Opposite page: Rosalia Torres-Weiner in front of her mural. This page: Her art truck; children standing in line for their supplies.

“All my work comes from the community, and while I obeyed the orders to stay home, I realized that I needed to do something.” —Rosalia Torres-Weiner the orders to stay home, I realized that I needed to do something,” she says. She soon found herself asking: “What can I do to produce art and help the Latino community?” This question led to an idea, and the idea eventually grew into action. Torres-Weiner’s husband, Ben Weiner, who works in technology, has grown accustomed to his wife coming up with these kinds of ideas, ideas that put her art to work in service of the community. He lovingly refers to these moments of inspiration, which he envisions as tiny black beans that grow into something larger, as frijolitos, and he has dubbed his wife’s visionary projects as “Frijolito, Inc.” As usual—and as her husband probably predicted—Torres-Weiner’s ideas on how to confront the pandemic grew. One day, while bouncing ideas off a friend who is also part of Charlotte’s Latinx community, Torres-Weiner decided that she would find a way to distribute sanitization supplies to underserved communities. Her friend told her that was a great idea, but what people really needed was food. Mothers and fathers were dying of the virus, leaving behind spouses and children who needed support. Yes, they needed supplies to protect their bodies, but they also needed food, especially children, who were going to bed hungry, their physical pain compounded by the emotional pain of losing a parent to the coronavirus.

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Pain and beauty: Torres-Weiner was motivated by one and desperate to spread the other, and she recalled a quote from the impressionist painter Claude Monet, “I must have flowers, always, and always.” She knew how to spread beauty, and she decided to paint a hundred 8 x 10 canvases with bold, colorful flowers. But she knew she needed help finding a way to address the pain people were feeling. Although she has made a living as a professional artist, Torres-Weiner went to college for business administration. “My sister became a lawyer, my other sister became a doctor, so when I told my mother I wanted to be an artist, there was not a choice,” she says. But sometimes mothers know best, and Torres-Weiner admits that her business background has provided the tools she needed to find funding and partnerships for her art projects. For her latest, she reached out to Google Fiber. With their support, Torres-Weiner was able to ensure that for each painting she painted, its new owner would have access to a gift bag containing hand sanitizer, masks, soap and other items. Also, each bag would contain a $50 gift card to Compare Foods Supermarket. As is often the case when Torres-Weiner executes a plan, her husband is on-site today. Each time someone arrives with their newfound art in hand, Torres-Weiner checks the number on the

DECEMBER 2020 | 35


back of the painting and calls it out to her husband, who is inside the art truck, where the gifts bags are waiting. Out of the 100 paintings Torres-Weiner distributed, 89 find their way back to their creator, and although the new owners get to keep the paintings, many of them cannot believe their good fortune. Surely there is a catch, some of them ask. Others try to return their paintings, certain that such beautiful art cannot have been

passed on to them for free. If you ask Torres-Weiner why she feels compelled to use her art to support her community, she will respond by telling you that this is a community that has always supported her from the moment she and her husband arrived in Charlotte from Los Angeles in the mid-1990s. “I remember when we moved here,” she says, “and we saw a church on almost every corner of the city, and we saw everyone playing baseball and taking their kids to activities, and my husband and I looked at each other and said, This is our city. This place is going to embrace us. And it did. We’ve been here 26 years.” But others in the city were not as convinced as Torres-Weiner that North Carolina was the place for her and her art. “When I started painting my colorful art, someone said, You need to move to Santa Fe or San Francisco. I’m glad I didn’t listen.” Another time, while she was working on a mural in Washington, D.C., she told someone that she was ready to return home. They asked if she was heading back to Mexico. “No,” she said. “I’m going back to Charlotte, North Carolina. That’s my home.” But home changes, and artists adapt. Torres-Weiner has adapted, easily blending her Mexican cultural heritage into her work as a Mexican-American artivist living in the South. By way of example, she references cuisine and how foodways can merge cultures and bring people together.


A few years ago, while standing in line at a walk-up Mexican restaurant that had long been a secret kept within the Latinx community, Torres-Weiner noticed the diversity of people waiting with her, and she struck up a conversation with a Black man who was standing behind her. He saw the paint on her clothes, and he asked if she was a painter. She said she was. As a matter of fact, she had painted the nearby mural of the Lady of Guadalupe on Central Avenue. The man told her the neighborhood had once housed primarily Black families, and before that white Charlotteans had made it their home. Now, the neighborhood was home primarily to members of the Latinx community. Torres-Weiner explained that she was painting the mural to welcome them to Charlotte. While they waited for their lunch, Torres-Weiner and the man continued to talk about old landmarks, how communities change, how they maintain their hospitality, how they welcome anyone looking for a home. Rosalia Torres-Weiner’s career has taken her all over the world, and her work has been featured in major museum collections—it even ended up on the cover of a United States history textbook. But no matter where she goes or where her work is showcased, North Carolina is home. “Last year, I was selected to represent North Carolina for an event in Mexico City that invited one Mexican artist from each state to represent the arts,” she says. “When they chose me, I was so proud.” The day’s event has ended. The confused and curious people who arrived with a gorgeous painting in one hand are leaving with a bag full of groceries and supplies in the other. No one is more pleased than Torres-Weiner. It is obvious that her day of service has regenerated her, guaranteeing that she will soon find another way to put her art into action to serve her community. What else can an artivist do but create and serve? “It’s my food, it’s my air,” she says. “It is my Christmas.” For this column, writer Wiley Cash and his wife, photographer Mallory Cash, are traveling across North Carolina to meet our state’s artists. They live in Wilmington, N.C. Cash's latest novel, The Last Ballad, is available wherever books are sold. The Art & Soul of Raleigh

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Holiday Cheer

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DRINK

12 DAYS of HOLIDAY DRINKS A toast to the season for every taste Whether you’re in the mood for a cocktail, mocktail or classic hot chocolate, we’ve got you covered: we asked 12 local bartenders, brewers and baristas for their favorite beverages to commemorate the chilly months. Read on and grab (or make!) a cup of cheer. by CATHERINE CURRIN illustration by JILLIAN OHL

38 | WALTER

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1

SANTA’S WORKSHOP EGGNOG LATTE

5

Head to 42 & Lawrence near Moore Square to try their signature eggnog latte. It’s made with Larry’s Coffee special espresso blend roasted right here in Raleigh, eggnog from Julian, N.C.’s Homeland Creamery and sweet gingerbread syrup, and topped with nutmeg and a peppermint candy cane.

3

EL DORADO 12 YEAR OLD FASHIONED

Longleaf Hotel bar manager Matt Fern is mixing up this twist on the Old Fashioned to stay warm on chilly nights on the patio. In this recipe, Fern uses half the sugar he’d normally put in the cocktail, since the rum adds its own sweetness. Orange segment

2

MULLED CAROLINA APPLE CIDER

Jake Wolf, owner of Capital Club 16, says he heads to the State Farmers Market to stock up on cider from Perry Lowe Orchards in Moravian Falls to mix this comforting, spiked treat. To make it at home: 1 gallon of cider 1 orange slice 1 lemon slice

1/4

3 - 4 dashes Angostura bitters 2 ounces El Dorado 12 Year Rum Muddle sugar, the fruit portion of the orange (not the rind or peel), bitters and water to dissolve. Add rum and stir to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Add ice and stir until cold.

4

CHRISTMAS STAYCATION

St. Roch’s general manager Esther Wallace has concocted a tequila mixture dancing with sugar plums, just in time for the holidays. To make it at home: 1 1/2 ounce reposado tequila 3/4

ounce fresh lime juice

1/4

ounce agave

1/4

ounce fresh orange juice

1 Asian plum Muddle plum and add tequila, lime, agave and orange juice. Shake and strain into rimmed glass with one ice cube.

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1 1/2 ounce Conniption American Dry Gin 3/4

ounce Pine Tincture (recipe below)

ounce Cinnamon Simple Syrup (recipe below) 3/4

1/2

ounce lemon juice

Cinnamon stick and pine needles Shake ingredients with ice, strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and pine needles.

3 - 4 dashes Regan’s bitters

10 whole cloves

Add all ingredients except whiskey to a medium pot and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and let sit and mull for 10 minutes. Strain off and add to a coffee or insulated mug, spike with an ounce or more of whiskey. Garnish with one more slice of orange (stud the peel with a few whole cloves, if you’d like) to garnish the rim.

Durham Distillery’s new bar Corpse Reviver offers a wintery twist on a sour, but to make it at home you’ll have to take a hike—bar manager Aaron Swindell suggests you pluck your own pine needles to make their signature tincture. “To be more environmentally friendly, we recommend foraging the needles of a blue spruce or loblolly pine tree, which give much of the same flavor as the long leaf pine, but grow faster,” says Swindell. To make:

teaspoon Sugar in the Raw

Scant soda water

4 cinnamon sticks or a dusting of ground cinnamon Bourbon whiskey (he uses Old Forester)

WINTER CITRUS SOUR

PINE TINCTURE 1/4 ounce fresh pine needles, chopped

8 ounces neutral spirit (like Everclear) Soak the pine needles in the alcohol for one to two hours. Once the flavor of the pine saturates into the spirit, strain out the pine needles and store the liquid in an airtight container. CINNAMON SIMPLE SYRUP 4 cinnamon sticks 1 cup water 1 cup sugar Break the cinnamon sticks into smaller pieces; place in a small saucepot with the water. Bring to boil, then turn the heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Strain out cinnamon sticks. Bring water back to a boil, add sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool before adding to your cocktail.

APRIL 2020 DECEMBER 2020 || 79 39


6

SINGLE ORIGIN SIPPING CHOCOLATE

Videri will be serving up three varieties of drinkable gourmet chocolate all season long (including a vegan option), but its Single Origin Sipping Chocolate is extra decadent: made with Videri 75% Dominican Republic Chocolate, water and cane sugar, it offers a deep, rich chocolate flavor highlighted by fruit notes. For a special treat, Videri co-founder Sam Ratto suggests topping it with whipped cream or candy cane pieces.

11

Cheetie Kumar and her team at Garland offer a chilled twist on warm and cozy spices. Not in the mood for booze? Skip the bourbon and drink their Mulled Cider. 1 1/2 ounces chilled Mulled Cider (recipe below)

8

7

Zack Thomas of Lawrence Food Co. makes a refreshing non-alcoholic orangeade using maple water, which he says is a hidden gem of mixology. “A farmer will tap a small spigot into the side of the tree, allowing the sap to drip out. The resulting liquid is what’s called maple water, and this is what’s boiled down to the syrup that we all recognize. But it tastes great on its own, or to brew tea or coffee.” 3 ounces orange juice 3 ounces maple water ounce chiliflavored simple syrup 3/4

1/2

ounce lemon juice

Cranberries Mix all ingredients and serve in a double Old Fashioned glass with ice cubes. Garnish with cranberries.

HOLIDAY BASH

Raleigh Brewing CEO Kristie Nystedt says their Holiday Bash winter warmer spiced ale is perfect sipping for the colder months with its notes of pumpkin pie, mulled cider and hazelnuts. Drink it on draught at the brewery or find it in cans at spots like Lowe’s Foods and Total Wine.

9

SPICY MAPLE ORANGEADE

PIQUETTE

“Back in September, we helped our friends at Botanist & Barrel sort over a ton of North Carolina-grown Cab Franc grapes,” says Trophy Brewing co-owner Chris Powers. Most of the crop will turn into a new beer-cider-wine hybrid that’ll come out next year, but in the meantime, they’ve bottled up a Piquette, a low-alcohol wine made from the leftover grape skins. Find it at State of Beer and Trophy locations.

3/4

ounce Bulleit bourbon

3/4

ounce César Florido Oloroso Sherry

1/3

ounce black cardamom syrup

Apple slice Garam masala (optional) Mix all ingredients with plenty of ice. Strain and serve over new ice. Garnish with an apple slice and sprinkle of garam masala. GARLAND’S MULLED CIDER 1/2 gallon unfiltered apple cider (preferably local)

3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into coins 2 sticks cinnamon 2 pods black cardamom, cracked 6 pods green cardamom, cracked 6 cloves 6 - 8 whole black peppercorns 1 - 2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)

10

NUTTY PROFESSOR

Chris Brennan, bar manager at Plates Kitchen on Glenwood South, created a peanut-infused rum for this decadent dessert cocktail. To make: 1 1/2 ounces Peanut-Infused Rum (recipe below)

Place all ingredients in a stainless stock pot and simmer over very low heat for two to three hours. Fresh cider varies in sweetness depending on the apples used, says Kumar, so if the result needs a little more sugar, stir in a tablespoon or two of brown sugar until dissolved. Strain before serving; can be served warm, chilled or reheated.

5 to 6 ounces hot apple cider Hand-whipped cream Grated peanuts (for garnish) Mix Peanut-Infused Rum with cider. Top with whipped cream and peanuts. PEANUT- INFUSED RUM UM 1 cup peanuts 1 bottle white rum Pour peanuts into rum. Let sit overnight, then strain.

40 | WALTER

WASSAIL AWAY

12

SOUTHERN NOG

Local brewery and distillery Lonerider launched Southern Nog in November, made with its signature Bourbon Whiskey. Lonerider’s chief drinking officer, Sumit Vohra, suggests serving the nog chilled with a garnish of nutmeg, cinnamon and mint. Find the boozy bev at local ABC stores and at the brand’s newest bar, The Hideout in Five Points.


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CULTURE

Children gather to adore the baby Jesus in a scene from the 2019 production.

THE GREATEST STORY The Justice Theater Project’s Black Nativity reignites an age-old tale by AYN-MONIQUE KLAHRE photography by JOSHUA STEADMAN 42 | WALTER

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This page: Scenes from the 2019 production of Black Nativity. Dancers, musicians and angels bring the story to life.

F

or Dr. Asabi (Stephanie Howard), Black Nativity has always been a part of life. Asabi, who’s chair of the theater department at North Carolina Central University, first performed in Langston Hughes’ groundbreaking 1961 musical in college at North Carolina Agricultural

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and Technical State University, then with Mabel Robinson at The North Carolina Black Repertory Company in WinstonSalem for almost 20 years. But last year, she engaged with it in a new way, as director of the The Justice Theater Project’s (JTP) production of the show. “I’d never thought of myself as direct-

ing it, but when the invitation came, I thought, why not?” says Asabi. Each director puts their own spin on the classic, and last year Asabi added in a children's scene, the role of the griot (a West African storyteller) and a setting rooted in Nigeria, including use of the Yoruba language in some scenes. “The script allows you some DECEMBER 2020 | 43


This page: Scenes from Black Nativity. Opposite page: Dr. Asabi.

44 | WALTER

The Art & Soul of Raleigh


artistic freedoms,” says Asabi. This year, the 10th that The Justice Theater Project will present Black Nativity, Asabi faced two new challenges. First, the pandemic shut the production down to an in-person audience. But when the JTP decided to produce a streamed version of the show, they learned they couldn’t get the rights to air the Hughes script. So Asabi found herself rewriting the story, leaning in and out of a centuries-old narrative to create a brand new production. “The good thing is that the story doesn’t change,” says Asabi. “Theater during COVID—it’s a whole new world for us, and we’re being quite brave about it.” And as a result, this year’s production will be a never-before-seen interpretation of Black Nativity. “The big difference is you won’t have the energy and volume of eighty people on stage raising the roof, you won’t be in the crowd to get up on your feet and start clapping,” says Melissa Zeph, executive producer at JTP. But you can still expect the show-stopping visuals and music of years past. “The costumes will be incredibly vibrant, the music will be huge,” says Zeph. “Music director Michael Williams is bringing in a keyboard, traditional drums, African drums, guitar, violin, saxophone—it’s a huge part of the play.” Asabi agrees: “Pamela Bond does some wonderful, creative things with Afro-centric costumes that light up the stage,” she says, “and the choreography that Kristi [Vincent Johnson] and Toya [Chinfloo] bring is just icing on the cake.” The dance in the show is a blend of contemporary and traditional African movement. “The dance is the physical expression of the music,” says choreographer Kristi Vincent Johnson. “All of your senses are heightened.” She shares the role of choreographer with Toya Chinfloo, merging her own training in jazz and modern dance with Chinfloo’s expertise in African dance. Johnson started as a dancer with the JTP under the late Baba Chuck Davis, and rose to assistant choreographer, then choreographer as his health declined. The Art & Soul of Raleigh

This year, they’ll be working with a new space, with fewer dancers. “The question is, how will this space change or contribute to the dance that’s already there?” says Johnson. “This is not a screen dance, it’s not like a movie where the camera is catching all the angles and you edit.” As of press time, the team was learning its lines (over Zoom), practicing the songs (in masks) and blocking choreography (while social distancing). The show will be recorded in small groups over two days, with a much smaller cast. “Everyone has embraced the challenges,” says actor and vocalist Taufiki Lee, who, alongside his daughter, has been in JTP’s production of Black Nativity in different roles for the last four years. Lee says the hardest part has been getting used to wearing a mask while singing, “but we’ve adjusted to that and it feels like a safe space for us.” Lee is excited for this year’s format because it means he can share the performance with family beyond the Triangle. “We love the potential of people seeing it virtually,” he says. “People are getting to see an original piece written and produced by Dr. Asabi, and more people will get to see and experience her work.” Yet there’s still the closeness of being with a longtime cast, says Johnson. “It always feels like a homecoming. When we had our first Zoom about who is coming back, I saw some of the faces I’ve known since 2013,” she says. “That’s what I look forward to, it just heightens the whole purpose of the season.”

Especially for younger viewers, this Black Nativity will offer a way to see the story in a different light: Asabi added a new perspective to guide the story, that of Mary’s niece, whose skepticism about the new baby stealing away the attention becomes the framework for the Nativity story. “I love the idea of children being prominent to the plot, and that even people who are not Christian or who aren’t familiar with the Nativity story can relate to its meaning,” says Asabi. “It is sweet and embraces the real premise of the story,” agrees Zeph. One of Johnson’s favorite moments in Asabi’s interpretation of the Black Nativity happens right at the beginning. “She had me choreograph the immaculate conception. Usually the first time you see Mary she’s already pregnant, but seeing this moment has a huge impact on the entire show,” says Johnson. “It moves you in a different way.” In a holiday that can sometimes get caught up in commercialization, Black Nativity offers a reminder of the “reason for the season” for Johnson. Lee, who is also a pastor, agrees: “I wouldn’t do it if it were all jingle bells and snow—this is about Christ.” And the process of making Black Nativity brings as much joy as the performance itself. “Every day in rehearsal, you’re singing and dancing and praising, you’re really involved in what the holiday is about,” says Johnson. “It’s been a great experience, and especially this year, it’s worth it to make it different and keep it going.”

“Theater during covid—it’s a whole new world for us, and we’re being quite brave about it.” —Dr. Asabi

DECEMBER 2020 | 45


SIMPLE LIFE

Becoming My Father And, luckily, his father, too

A

The author with his father.

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dear friend I hadn’t seen in far too long and I were having lunch outdoors, safely distanced. She sipped her lemony mineral water and noted her relief that a grueling year was finally drawing to a close. “If ever a year could make you feel old,” she said with a thoughtful sigh, “this was it.” I agreed, sipping my sweet tea, pointing out that I am living proof of this sudden aging phenomenon. “How’s that?” I replied that I was— quite literally—turning into my father and grandfather before my very eyes. This was either scary or wonderful. The jury was still out on the matter. She laughed. “I think you were probably just born old. Besides, you’re more of an old soul than a grumpy old man.” This was nice of her to say. I hoped she’s right. In fact, I hoped this sudden aging awareness might not be the result of the year’s tumultuous events—a worldwide

pandemic, collapsed economy, record hurricanes and wildfires, to say nothing of a presidential election that ground us all to a pulp—and was merely a case of finally growing old enough to appreciate the way our lives unfold and how we are shaped by the people who came before us. For the record, two years ago I officially joined the great Baby Boom horde marching resolutely toward their Medicare and Social Security benefits. Between us and my morning glass of Metamucil, however, I really don’t feel much older than I did, say, 20 or 30 years ago, when I built my own post-and-beam house on a coastal hill in Maine and spent my children’s college funds creating a large faux English garden in the northern woods. In my 30s and 40s I could work hard all day in the garden—digging holes, planting shrubs, mowing the lawn, rebuilding old stone walls—and simply require a good soak in our huge Portuguese bathtub and a couple of cold Sam Adams beers to put my aging body right. As my 50s dawned, shortly before we moved home to Carolina 15 years ago, I even tagged along with renowned Raleigh plantsman Tony Avent and a trio of veteran plant hunters half my age to the Great Karoo desert and some of the most The Art & Soul of Raleigh

Courtesy Jim Dodson

by JIM DODSON


remote places of South Africa in search of exotic plants. We were gone five weeks in the bush, much of that time out of touch with folks back home, politely dodging black mambas and angry Cape baboons. I came home filthy and exhausted, bloodied and gouged, punctured and sprained in places I didn’t even know I had. In short, it was glorious—the most fun I’ve ever had researching a book—and it only took me a case of beer and a full week of soaking in the bath to fully recover. Four years ago, as senior citizen status officially loomed, my wife and I decided to downsize and move from the Sandhills to my hometown in the Piedmont, prompting a friendly debate over whether we should move to the old neighborhood where I grew up or the 10 rural acres I had my eye on outside the city. “I know exactly what you have in mind,” said my younger wife. “You want 10 acres so you can build another post-and-beam house and create an even bigger faux English garden. Problem is, 65 is not the new 25. I know you well. You’ll rarely come in the house and work yourself to death. I’ll come home some afternoon and find you face down in the Virginia creeper.” I laughed off such a silly notion, pointing out it would either be English bluebells or maybe the winter Daphne. She was not amused. We moved to my old neighborhood a short time later. Truthfully, I think about my old woodland garden in Maine and that wild African adventure sometimes when I’m working in the modest suburban garden where I now serve as head gardener and general dogsbody, a simple quarter-acre that I’ve completely re-landscaped with or without the FedEx guy in mind. As a sign of how time may finally be catching up with my botanically abused body, however, it now takes three cold beers, a longer soak in the tub, two Advil and a short nap to get me up and moving without complaint. I suspect my days of sweet tea consumption are also dwindling in favor of mineral water with lemon. In the meantime, the evidence mounts that I am becoming my father and grandThe Art & Soul of Raleigh

father before my own eyes. of quoting long-dead sages and Roman Maybe that’s not, as I’ve already said, philosophers when you least expected it, a bad thing, after all. My father’s father, especially to my teenage dates. I never from whom I got my middle name, was appreciated what a gift he gave me until a lovely old gentleman of few words who I turned 30. Lord, how I miss that man. could make anything with his hands, Regardless of where you come down a gifted carpenter and electrician who on the nature versus nurture debate, worked on crews raising the first one doesn’t need to take a deep dive into electrical towers across the South during Ancestry.com to understand that each of the Great Depression and later helped us owns pieces of the people who came wire the state’s first “skyscraper,” the before us. If we are lucky, the best parts Jefferson Standard Building in downtown of them live on in us. Greensboro. Having reached an age where there Walter Dodson wore are more years in the rearflannel shirts with large view than the road ahead, Some gray pockets and smoked I take some comfort in afternoon this cheap King Edward suddenly noticing how much cigars. He gave me month, I’ll fire up I really am like Opti and my first toolbox one good men who lived one of his favorite Walter, Christmas and showed through hard times—and me how to cut a straight briar pipes just for even tragedy—but never line with a handsaw their common touch or fun, a little ritual lost that I still own. In the appreciation for life’s simple that makes me feel pleasures. evenings, he loved to sit outside and watch Like Walter, I dig flannel closer to the father the birds and changeshirts with large pockets, I’m missing, my church hymns, quiet afterable skies, sometimes humming hymns as noons in my garden and kindly ghost of he calmly smoked his beneath the evening Christmas Past. sitting stogie. trees watching birds feed and Walter’s wife, my skies change. I miss going to spunky Baptist Grandmother Taylor, early church on Sunday mornings. But naknew the Gospels cold, but I don’t think ture is my temple, too. For the time being, Walter ever darkened the doorway of a that will suffice. church. Nature was his temple. Like Opti, I have a thing for poetry, His son, my old man, Brax Dodson, was American history, good bourbon and golf an ad man with a poet’s heart. He loved with chums, even quotes by long-dead poetry, American history, good bourbon, sages and Roman philosophers that never golf with chums and everything about failed to embarrass my children when they Christmas, not necessarily in that order. were teenagers. He sometimes smoked a beautiful briar Just like my old man, I love everything pipe he brought home from the war and about Christmas. Some gray afternoon this moderated a men’s Sunday school class month, I’ll fire up one of his favorite briar for more than two decades. A man of pipes just for fun, a little ritual that makes great faith, he’d experienced unspeakable me feel closer to the father I’m missing, my tragedy during his service in Europe but kindly ghost of Christmas Past. never spoke of it. Instead, he lived his life There’s one more important way I as if every day was a gift, always focusing connect with Walter and Opti, who were on the positive, the most upbeat character anything but grumpy old men. I ever knew. Both had wise and spirited wives who My nickname for him, in fact, was shaped their thinking and made them “Opti the Mystic,” owing to his unwavbetter people. I have a wife like that, too. ering goodwill and embarrassing habit Maybe there’s hope for me yet. DECEMBER 2020 | 47


Marci Bailey


Deliver Joy this Christmas! QE Follow along with Marci Bailey on social @BaileysFineJewelry for this year’s perfect gifts and share your holiday sparkle with #baileybox

Every Woman Wants a Bailey Box Under the Tree Raleigh’s Cameron Village & Crabtree Valley Mall Rocky Mount | Greenville | www.baileybox.com


A photographer’s daily ritual captures holiday spirit in downtown Raleigh

Merry

MOMENTS

Bryan Regan took this shot on the Capitol steps, looking down Fayetteville Street. “To me, this shot summarizes downtown at Christmastime,” Regan says.


by AYN-MONIQUE KLAHRE photography by BRYAN REGAN

J

ust about every weekday for the last nine years, photographer Bryan Regan has taken a photo in downtown Raleigh on his way into his studio on East Martin Street. “It started because I was looking for a photo project,” he says, “I thought I’d just stop and take a picture on the way to work.” The project turned into a daily practice, and also a challenge. “It’s really about trying to create something out of monotony, but also to realize that you don’t have to be in a ‘cool’ city like New York or Paris or Los Angeles to do something interesting,” Regan says. And over time, those glimpses into Raleigh streets, sidewalks, windows and parking lots reveal a city that’s changing by the day, and by the season. Regan especially loves the holidays. “There’s excitement and electricity in the air when the lights are out,” says Regan. “Just everything is more festive.” Regan has a whole shed full of retro Christmas decorations that he’s collected over the years—“We decorate the house like crazy!”—and these often find themselves yanked out of the yard for a trip in the back seat, ready for a photo op. “I’ll bring whatever fits in the car, maybe it’s a Santa or a snowman,” says Regan, “but I also have some quirkier things like Star Wars critters and a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.” So this holiday season, keep an eye out for a nutcracker strolling down Fayetteville Street before dawn or Santa looking like he just overindulged at Krispy Kreme—because Regan may be nearby, behind the lens. “I’m always walking around to see what’s out there, and I get excited to see the new things everyone puts out.”

DECEMBER 2020 | 51


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Opposite page: A threefoot-tall nutcracker made its way to the southern end of Fayetteville, while Regan’s Star Wars characters showed up in City Market. This page: Regan loves the changing display of lights on the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts’ Greek Revival columns.

AUGUST 2020 | 57 DECEMBER 53


This page: Another angle on the Capitol tree. Opposite page: Regan snaps photos wherever he sees festive moments, and they’re often unexpected, like the mural outside Church on Morgan (“It actually snowed that day— that’s real snow!”), a bike parked at the corner of Hargett and Wilmington, and Santa inside the window at Blalock’s Barber & Beauty Salon.

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The Art & Soul of Raleigh

DECEMBER 2020 | 55


This page: A tree inside the window of what’s now St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar; a glimpse into a window along Blount Street. Opposite page: Raleigh’s favorite Krispy Kreme, where Regan’s a fan of watching the hot donuts get made. “I love that when half the letters burn out of the sign, it just says Doug,” says Regan. “Whenever I share a picture of it on Facebook, all my Doug friends make it their profile photo.”

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PERFECT CATCH

“There’s something magical about a brand new day, brand new everything. what am I going to do?”

Opposite page: A surfer hangs ten as a pelican flies over the waves. This page: A fisherman pulls in a sunrise catch. “I’m not much of a fisherman,” laughs Karp, “I feel more and more sorry for the worms the older I get.”

— TK

AUGUST 2020 | 57 61 DECEMBER


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CHRISTMAS STORIES Somewhat but Mostly Not True by DANIEL WALLACE illustration by IPPY PATTERSON

DECEMBER 2020 | 59


T

he oldest family Christmas story I know is about my great grandmother, Nona. This is the century before last. Nona was a widow. As far as anyone could tell, Nona had always been a widow—some said she was born one. The truth is that her husband, my great grandfather, perished much too young in the salt mines of northern Alabama, leaving her alone with a brand-new baby, my grandfather, Ewing. As everyone who knows anything knows, Alabama was once home to the largest salt deposits in North America, something having to do with the shallow Cambrian seas that once covered the entirety of the state. But the mines were deep and dangerous and only the bravest of men ventured into them. After the salt mine tragedy, Nona was penniless but proud, foraging for food in the forest to feed herself and her wee child. They moved into a straw hut abutting the tail end of the Appalachian mountain range. It was all they could afford. All Nona had was an old milk-cow, named Deuce, and Deuce was about a day away from becoming their last supper when Nona had an idea. Ever resourceful and with a will of pig-iron, she became a milk lady. In the beginning she only had enough milk to service a few homes, delivering it in old tin cups. But after making her first few sales she upgraded, got a cart, some bottles, and before the sun was up she loaded the cart full of as many bottles as she could, pulled by the source of it all, Deuce. With her profits she purchased another cow, and another, and soon she became the most popular milk lady in town; but then again she was also the only one. Even though she was making enough to feed herself and young Ewing, she was still too poor for a tree, and their hut— one tiny room, shoebox-small—was too teeny for even a shrub. But as she was reported to say right from the start, “We do what we can with what we might have.” She said it in the way that people who come from nothing say that sort of thing, all matter of fact, followed by a brief shrug of the shoulders.

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A So this is what happened on Christmas morning. Nona took Ewing off into the forest, pulled on a cart by the ever-loyal Deuce. And there they sat beneath the tallest, most majestic pine in the forest, an ancient giant of the Pinus clan, a tree so big it’s visible from space, they say. And there she would make a prayer, share some milk and give her son his present. As has been told to the subsequent generations of immeasurably spoiled and ungrateful children, Ewing was always thrilled with his interesting pinecone or a rock in the shape of a shoe. But here is what was remarkable about that Christmas, and every Christmas they shared. They never spent it alone. One by one all the animals of the forest would creep up, join them there, slinking out of the forest-dark like shy friends. Deer, raccoons, wild hogs, bluebirds, hawks, turkeys, forest mice, coyotes, snakes, skunks, sometimes even a cougar or bobcat. Nona particularly loved a black bear she called Susie. They’d all keep their animal distance, but close enough for Ewing to see the warm steam of their collective breath. So the Christmas present really wasn’t a pine cone at all, nor a rock, it was the presentation and a celebration of the awesome myriad of life. She was actually giving Ewing the whole world. I met Nona when I was three days old and she was 101. A week later she died in her sleep and Deuce followed soon thereafter. In honor of her passing no one in town drank milk for a month.

nd now to her son, Ewing, my grandfather. Ewing was nick named “Dumbo” as a child, due to his larger-than-life ears. He was actually quite brilliant and used his ears to good effect: not only could he wear large hats; he could also hear everything. He could hear an owl sigh. He married my grandmother Lucille when he was but eighteen years old, after he fell in love listening to her hum. Like his mother, Ewing was an inventive and resourceful entrepreneur. Would it surprise you to know that Ewing was the man who invented the boiled peanut stand? This is almost a true fact and let no one tell you different: the very first ever. He built it out of pallets and tree branches, using rusty nails pulled from old barns, and set it up on the side of the busiest road out of Cullman, a meager dirt road that disappeared after a hard rain and had to be repaved with more dirt next time the sun came out. His peanut stand was the most modern thing around at the time and people went no matter if they liked peanuts or not. Peanuts grew wild in Cullman. An underground forest of them in Ewing’s backyard became an underground goldmine. The first stand was a great success—boiled peanuts from a roadside stand! What a concept!—and that success led to a second, a few miles down the road. He hired his cousins and cousins of cousins, friends of his cousins and their sons and daughters and soon the stands were everywhere, from Alabama down through Mississippi, sweeping into Louisiana and Florida, up through Georgia and finally into the Carolinas. Very few people know that most boiled peanut stands back then were franchises, but that’s what they were in the beginning.

So the Christmas present really wasn’t a pine cone at all, nor a rock, it was the presentation and a celebration of the awesome myriad of life.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh


A little part of every peanut sold found its way back to my grandfather’s pocket, and though he never became a rich man he was able to move his bride Lucille out of the thatched hut and into a proper house in town. Christmas was a magical time in my grandparent’s home. My father got all kinds of presents: peanuts, tiny cars made of peanut shells, and best of all, peanuts painstakingly carved by Lucille, intricate portraits of Washington and Lincoln, or detailed landscapes of the French countryside, all from her imagining what it might be like. Find one today and it’s worth more than a Fabergé egg. Alas, most of them were eaten. Lucille and Ewing saved and saved and eventually built an actual restaurant serving a great variety of foods. It was the only restaurant for fifty miles in any direction. Some people had never seen a restaurant before; many weren’t even familiar with the concept. Ewing and Lucille had to teach them to use a menu and then how to order their food from the lady in the pale blue frock. The good citizens of Cullman and beyond caught on quick. People take restaurants for granted, but they shouldn’t. Restaurants are everywhere now, sure. But it wasn’t always like that. You may have my grandparents to thank for that. Maybe not.

W

ith boiled-peanut money my grandparents bought a house big enough for a tree and had money at the end of the year to buy something for my dad, Eron, their only child. One Christmas morning my father got a pocket watch. On another he got a knife. The next, a bulky jacket, and then a pair of shoes—three sizes too big, for growing into. On his sixteenth Christmas they gave him a suitcase, on his seventeenth a compass. He saw where this was going. Year after year he had gotten one single thing until he got all the things he needed to make a life of his own and when he was 18 years old set off for the wider world. On his first Christmas morning alone

The Art & Soul of Raleigh

my father woke before the sun came up, fell into the Mississippi River and floated two hundred miles downstream to the Gulf of Mexico on a raft hastily assembled from twigs and mudgrass, and was finally rescued by one of the bravest and most intrepid sailors ever to roam the Gulf of Mexico in an old shrimp trawler: Joan Pedigo, the woman who would become my mother. They fell in love in about three-quarters of a second. Family followed almost as quickly: me and three sisters, dogs and cats and a snake and a bird. Still: struggling. Lots of mouths to feed. It was my mother who had the idea for the salted peanut, which brought the two biggest industries in town—salt and peanuts—together for the first time. How no one had thought of it before her was a mystery. Thanks to the salted peanut for a period of years we were a family of not insignificant wealth. Later, a bigger company, the one that made complimentary peanuts—really nice people, for the most part—would put us out of his business. But until then every Christmas we traveled to a different country in the world. We’d plan our trips out beginning on January 1, studying the language, the mode of dress, learning their customs and histories: Mongolia, Argentina, Gabon—you name it. One cold Christmas we spent with Eskimos in Greenland. Atelihai means Hello, but that’s all the Inuit I remember. Because of my parents and Christmas our family has been almost everywhere there is to go. Name a place. Yep. Been there. Name another. Been there too.

C

hristmas! Christmas seems made for tall tales: look at the big red one that persists to this day. These days our own Christmases aren’t quite as big as the ones that preceded it—no bears, I am sorry to say—but they are just as beautiful: North Carolina, where we have lived for the last forty years or so, makes sure of that. Until this year for decades running my family has produced postcard-worthy Christmases: the tree, the lights, the boxes wrapped in shiny paper, all of us gathered together next to the hearth beneath what felt like a dome of warmth and love. But Christmas is not the same this time around. The pandemic has put a chink in our plans. Our clan is distant and scattered, and we do so many things in the world: we’re lawyers, doctors, construction workers, stage designers, Navy men and women, judges, paralegals, writers, scientists, artists, animal trainers. Every one of us knows a little bit about something, and together—could you bring us all together—we’d know practically everything. My second cousin is training snow-white pigeons to fly back and forth between our many homes, carrying Christmas greetings; another is perfecting the hologram, so even if we’re not together we will look like we are. But then I think back to Nona, and those misty mornings she spent beneath that towering pine, with mountain lions and turtles, et al.; of my father, floating down the Mississippi clinging to a twig and a blade of grass. Which is just to say that yes, Christmas will be different this year, but it’s different almost every year, in one way or another. It’s what Nona said: We do what we can with what we might have: to hope and work for better times while making these times the best they can possibly be. That may be the story of our Christmas this year, but it may also be the story of all our lives.

Daniel Wallace has written six novels, including Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions. Wallace is the J. Ross MacDonald Distinguished Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his alma mater, where he directs the Creative Writing Program. APRIL 2020 DECEMBER 2020 || 79 61


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Giorgios Bakatsias in the dining area of his home in Bahama, North Carolina.

On their day off, the family behind Yellow Dog Bread Co. uses the bakery for connection... and confection

sweet SUNDAYS by ADDIE LADNER photography by EAMON QUEENEY

DECEMBER 2020 | 63


Pecan Snowballs These cookies do not spread, so you can fit a lot on a sheet pan at once. If you plan on baking several batches throughout the season, hold onto your extra powdered sugar for coating cookies to use for the next batch. “These are my favorite cookies to eat and gift, and definitely go onto the cookie plate for Santa— wink wink!” says Tanya Andrews. Makes six dozen. INGREDIENTS 315 grams* (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour 225 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened 60 grams (1/2 cup) powdered sugar 10 grams (2 1/2 teaspoons) vanilla 1 gram salt (a pinch) 75 grams (1/2 cup) pecans, ground and lightly toasted 1 - 2 cups powdered sugar, for coating DIRECTIONS

Matt and Tanya Andrews with their sons Graham and Walker inside Yellow Dog Bread Co.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter and sugar until well incorporated, add vanilla extract and mix again until it is incorporated. Combine your dry ingredients in a small bowl, then in three parts, add to butter mixture scraping the bowl between additions. Once mixed, portion and roll into 1-inch balls. (At this point, you can freeze the dough: freeze the balls on a sheet pan, and once they’re frozen, throw them into a freezer bag until you’re ready to bake.) Bake on a parchment-lined sheet pan for about 15 minutes, until they are a light golden brown (be careful to not let the bottoms get too dark). As soon as they come out of the oven, toss cookies in powdered sugar, then again after they have cooled completely for a second time. *Andrews encourages working in grams for more precise measurements, but we’ve included approximate standard measurements as well.

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On a crisp Sunday morning in December, Yellow Dog Bread Co. is adorned with fresh Christmas garland. The bakery is toasty inside its frosted windows, where two giggly brothers decorate Christmas cookies with a substantial amount of blue icing and mounds of sprinkles. Every other day of the week, the bakery hums with excitement as loyal patrons grab spiced lattes and workers box up Christmas cookie orders. But Sundays have a different kind of energy: that’s when owners Matt and Tanya Andrews share a tasty tradition with their sons Walker and Graham. “I hold the pageantry of Christmas in high esteem,” says Tanya Andrews, whose grandfather was a pastor in Rocky Mount. Each Christmas Eve, her family would gather in his living room to listen to the Christmas story from a worn book while the kids, dressed in their holiday pajamas, sipped hot apple cider and ate

fruit cake. “You hold onto those sacred moments from childhood,” she says. But those simple, homemade memories can be hard to foster when you’re running a bakery and December is the busiest time of year. “Thinking about baking when I get home is almost laughable,” Andrews says. But the couple felt they’d be remiss not to create those special times with their children, like the ones she had as a child. So on Sundays between Thanksgiving and Christmas, they head to their second home, the bakery. Their boys get set up with a cookie-decorating station in the production area to make treats for friends and family. Meanwhile, Tanya Andrews meticulously decorates cookies for Monday orders while Matt Andrews gets a head start on bread baking. “If there is anything folks can relate to right now,” says she says, “it’s working with your kids in tow!” The Art & Soul of Raleigh


SIDES AS STARS Opposite page: The SWEET SCENES meal, come toOn Sundays in gether. This page, December, when the clockwise from top: bakery is closed to Spanikopita with the public, Yellow phyllo made by Dog transforms into his sister; slicing a fun, messy cookiebeets onto sautéed making workshop greens; Dolmathakia for its owners. (rice-stuffed grape leaves); Pastitsio.

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SIDES AS STARS Opposite page: The READY TO EAT! meal, come toA few family favorgether. This page, ites (clockwise from clockwise from top: top): Pecan SnowSpanikopita with balls, Gingerbread phyllo made by Men, Chocolate his sister; slicing Peppermint Sugar beets onto sautéed Cookies, Rolled greens; Dolmathakia Sugar Cookies. (rice-stuffed grape leaves); Pastitsio.


Chocolate Peppermint Sugar Cookies If you want to add a little crunch, roll your cookie balls in coarse crystal sugar. If you’re looking for some shine, sprinkle crystal sugar on them as soon as they come out of the oven. The residual heat melts the sugar just enough so it sticks to the surface. That will keep the sugar shiny and pretty without being overly melted. Makes six dozen. INGREDIENTS 415 grams (3 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour 120 grams (1 1/2 cups) cocoa powder 8 grams (1 3/4 teaspoons) baking soda 5 grams (1 teaspoon) salt 425 grams (1 7/8 cups) unsalted butter, softened 625 grams (3 1/8 cups) sugar 3 whole large eggs 15 grams (1 tablespoon) peppermint extract DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

While the family-run bakery has grown since they opened the doors to a brick-and-mortar location with 18 employees back in 2013, Tanya Andrews still takes on the role of primary cookie artist each December. She decorates every gingerbread man by hand—last year that meant around 1,300 of them. “Gingerbread is my bread and butter, but it’s an art form that certainly has its limitations,” she laughs. Personalized orders of various nature come in each year, like a recent request for a gingerbread man wearing a monogrammed Lilly Pulitzer scarf. Over the years, she’s created a few holiday hacks to ensure the season is “more special and less stressful and regretful.” A favorite: making big batches of dough well ahead of time to call on throughout the season. (You can steal this trick yourself with the recipes she’s shared here.) “It’s not revolutionary, but having The Art & Soul of Raleigh

a few of these things ready to go means we can still spontaneously have freshbaked cookies for beautiful and magical moments.” These quiet—albeit messy—Sundays at Yellow Dog are a way for the Andrews parents to connect with their kids, and their kids to connect to the bakery. “They understand that the bakery is more than just a job for mom and dad,” she says, “it’s our family businesses.” Family and togetherness are what Yellow Dog was founded on in the first place. “I always had this vision of a walkable bakery in a neighborhood that would allow us to be a part of people’s lives,” says Andrews. “I’d ask myself, what would I have wanted if I had been a little kid? What memories would I have created?” If the sprinkle-strewn countertops and icing-covered fingers are any indication, those memories will indeed be sweet.

Cream butter and sugar until well incorporated. In a small bowl, add peppermint extract and eggs, one at a time, mixing until well incorporated. Combine your dry ingredients in a small bowl, then in three parts, add to butter mixture scraping the bowl between additions. Once mixed, portion and roll into 1-inch balls. (At this point, you can freeze the dough: freeze the balls on a sheet pan, and once they’re frozen, throw them into a freezer bag until you’re ready to bake.) Bake on a parchment-lined sheet pan for 16 to 17 minutes. Cookies should be dry in appearance on top and have a slight firmness at the edge.

Find more recipes on page 94.

DECEMBER 2020 | 67


This page: Ira David Wood IV, son of director Ira David Wood III, poses as Scrooge during a dress rehearsal. Opposite page: The full 2019 cast rehearses a scene. They typically have four full dress rehearsals, in costumes by LeGrande Smith, before the show goes live.

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Coming together behind the scenes of Ira David Wood III’s A Christmas Carol

HOMETOWN

HUMBUG

by MELISSA HOWSAM The Art & Soul of Raleigh

photographs by BRYAN REGAN DECEMBER 2020 | 69


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oven into the fabric of Raleigh’s identity is a storied tradition, quite literally: Whether you’re a native or a newbie, you can’t get through the holidays without hearing about A Christmas Carol, adapted as a musical comedy by famed director Ira David Wood III for Theatre in the Park. “Its message has never grown old or become outmoded,” says Wood. “We need to be reminded that we have the opportunity to transform ourselves into better people, particularly in times such as these.” Wood’s version of the story, infused with nods to current events, is a unique and ever-changing telling of the Charles Dickens classic that has delighted families for 46 years—and it’s even bred a few families of its own. It starts at the top: Wood III, who has historically played Scrooge, now trades off the role with his son, Ira David Wood IV. And the younger Wood’s son, eightyear-old Thomas Miller Wood, also stars in the show. “It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to stand on that stage with my own family next to me,” says Wood III, “and to expand that wondrous sense of togetherness to include all those who’ve become part of our extended theater family.”

“A second chance, like Scrooge received, has gifted us in immeasurable ways. A Christmas Carol, past, present and future, lives in our bones all year.”—David Moore Castmate David Moore, who’s played Bob Cratchit for the last 22 years, met his now-wife Carol Moore (then Langley) through cast matchmakers in 1993. They’ve been together on and off the stage since. “This show has blessed my family and life in too many ways to list,” says Carol Moore, who joined the show in 1984. Carol Moore’s three (now grown) children have also been castmates, as was their father, whom Moore credits as the reason they were all in the show to begin with. David Moore, who has two grown children of his own, says the play resonates for them year-round. “Blended family life can be both challenging and fulfilling,” he says. “A second chance, like Scrooge received, has gifted us in immeasurable ways. A Christmas Carol, past, present and future, lives in our bones all year.” Brooke Miller, Carol Moore’s daughter, has been performing in the show for 22 years—and she also met her spouse through the show. She was off to college the first time her now-husband James Miller performed in 1999, but they got connected when she returned home for a cast party. Flash forward: their 13-year old twins have performed with the show for the last eight years. “We’ve watched very young cast members grow into adults, and we’ve mourned cast members who have passed,” says Brooke Miller. “This community extends our family beyond the walls of our home.” “The show is truly a bonding experience as we work together towards a common goal of bringing Christmas joy to our audiences,” says cast member and Theatre in the Park managing director Brent Simpson. “Lifetime friendships are made and kept.” The cast typically includes around 85 performers, about half of whom have been in the production before. continued on page 74

The cast typically includes about 85 actors, some as young as five. Row 1: Janis Coville, Anyah Bond, Taylor Mills, Sutton Smith. Row 2: David Mills, Gary Gardenhire, Sam Davis, Dempsey Bond. Row 3: Margaret Lowrance, Lamont Wade, Annie T. Ham, Brent Simpson.

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The Art & Soul of Raleigh


The Art & Soul of Raleigh

DECEMBER 2020 | 71


Clockwise from top: Director Ira David Wood III. While he often plays the role of Scrooge, his son usually acts the part for dress rehearsals. “After almost 50 years, seeing the show has become a sort of holiday homecoming for many in our audience,” says Ira David Wood III. Name tags for cast; young cast members wait to be called to the stage.

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The Art & Soul of Raleigh


Clockwise from top: Actor Chris Maxwell, playing Scrooge's nephew Fred, sings in the opening number. A scene from the opening freeze of the show. Frank Theriault as the Christmas Elf heralds the entrance of the Ghost of Christmas Present. This group is considered the “rich family,” they’re joined onstage by the baker family, the dairy family, and Bobby and the apple seller. The show ends with this same tableau.

DECEMBER 2020 | 73


Part of what drives this closeness is the rigorous rehearsal schedule: for two and a half months each year, the cast will rehearse five days a week, three hours at a time, before getting into the performances. “It’s a big commitment, but it’s not tedious work,” says Simpson. “David jokes around, he’s a great director, he’s funny and he keeps everybody entertained.” The production will look different this year—but as the saying goes, the show must go on. Like so many things, A Christmas Carol will be virtual, a ticketed stream of a past production. “As the lamplighter says in the play, Charles Dickens wrote the story, I don’t pretend to tell it exactly how he wrote it, but the meaning is the same,” says Simpson. And perhaps there is no better time for this show’s message, regardless of medium, than now.

“Long after I draw my last breath, I’ll still be standing on that stage with them, sharing the true meaning of Christmas with those I love.”—Ira David Wood III “A Christmas Carol enables our family to live many of the values we hold dear,” says Brooke Miller. “Dickens showcases the need for kindness and generosity in our world, while Wood’s annual production brings inclusivity, creativity and love.” The sentiment is not lost on Wood III: “Long after I draw my last breath, I’ll still be standing on that stage with them, sharing the true meaning of Christmas with those I love… with those who have loved me in return.”

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Grayson Gutekunst as Tiny Tim in the 2019 production. Below: A few townspeople reacting to Scrooge.


Clockwise from top: Rehearsing Scrooge’s Tango; the Chimney Sweeps are principal dancers in many scenes. The Ghosts of Christmas Past (Jane Fitzpatrick) and Christmas Future (Greg Moore). “He’s not exactly Elton John, but we do intersperse local and political humor,” says Simpson. “We are equal-opportunity offenders!”

The Art & Soul of Raleigh

DECEMBER 2020 | 75


Clockwise from top: Jacob Marley (David Henderson, one of the longest-running cast members) and Scrooge (Wood IV). Brent Simpson as Mr. Fezziwig, Scrooge's first boss. Scrooge’s teddy bear provides both comic relief—he tinkles in a vase before bed—and moments of warmth, as when Scrooge tucks him in with Tiny Tim.

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The Art & Soul of Raleigh


Clockwise from top: The Gutekunst family. This was the first year they were all in the show together. The dancing trees make an appearance with the Ghost of Christmas Present. Ira David Wood IV (as Scrooge) and Grayson Gutekunst (Tiny Tim) rehearse the show’s finale. “As David says every year to the cast, this year we all really need this show!” says Carol Moore. “Let the words ring out louder than ever: God bless us, every one!”

The Art & Soul of Raleigh

DECEMBER 2020 | 77


This page: Artist and jewelry designer Sarah West. Opposite page: A necklace she designed and crafted.

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ALL ANGLES

Artist Sarah West fuses metal with an eye for math and geometry

by JESSIE AMMONS RUMBLEY

photography by TAYLOR MCDONALD


T T

here’s both grit and grace in Sarah West’s pieces—steel trapezoids and crystals wearable as rings, necklaces, earrings and even brooches. “I don’t do math when I make my work, but I’m inspired by the things that math and engineering have created,” West says. “Bridges and other giant structures are a source of awe. I think about the labor and ideas and engineering that went into building them, and how they are a connection to one place or another, a connection between people.” Connection is a theme throughout West’s work, which includes mostly jewelry as well as a few large-scale installations in cities across the country. “I cut up all of these little bits of steel and when I join them, that joint is a connection point, the idea of thoughts and people crossing, of memories and dreams, the map of the intangible,” she says. Whether it’s a ring or a huge abstract hanging sculpture, “there are all of these connection points.” It’s taken a while for West to hone her aesthetic, a combination of minimalism, artfulness and geometric precision. Originally from Massachusetts, she dropped out of college and found her way instead to craft school, where she learned traditional jewelry-making and repair. Then she took some time off—“my life has been a series of jewelry, break, jewelry, break,” West laughs—and found solace in the North Carolina mountains. She eventually found her way back to craft school, this time North Carolina’s celebrated Penland School of Crafts, which spurred her to earn her BFA from East Carolina University. The Artspace Regional Emerging Artist Residency and N.C. Arts Council Fellowship brought her to Raleigh in 2011, and she’s been here ever since. Making art was not in her original plan, West says. “I was very much interested in having a craft that was not art-related. Doing bench jewelry repair work felt like a need, it was very much trade-oriented.” Nonetheless, she always sketched on the side, “drawn to painting

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This page: Sarah West in her studio. Opposite page: Glimpses into West’s process of creating her jewelry, including cutting, shaping and sautering steel and brass, and adding in colorful reclaimed vinyl accents cut to size with a band saw.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh


The Art & Soul of Raleigh

DECEMBER 2020 | 81


West is inspired by mathematical and geometric forms. “I love opening old math books or astronomy books and seeing the little diagrams. Reflecting on those forms, there’s a feeling of awe, like when you look up into the stars.”


and sculpture and the more abstract,” she says. “There was a disconnect between what I was doing as a jeweler and what I was doing in my sketchbook.” At Penland, she began to connect the dots. Then, when studying metal design at ECU, she had her “aha” moment. “When I started working with steel, I could build my forms very quickly. It felt like I was sketching in a 3-D space.” By creating geometry-inspired jewelry, West combines the abstract and the practical. She creates art that has a use. But she’s now interested in art for art’s sake, too. Her public installations include a hanging steel-and-linen piece in the AC Hotel Times Square in New York City and a gramophone-esque steel-and-vinyl piece inside the Red Hat lobby downtown. “It’s challenging to get into a large space and that’s really fun,” West says. To tackle the challenge, she breaks each piece down “in a component-based way,” so it becomes an undertaking not unlike making a piece of statement jewelry. West also teaches classes at Pullen Arts Center, which will reopen from renovations next spring. It’s another way for her to stay connected and inspired. “Raleigh has a great arts community full of opportunities,” she says. Of course, 2020 has changed the way some opportunities look. Like many in the creative industry, “2020 has really thrown me for a loop,” West says. And so she’s taken another break, putting craft on the backburner and focusing on gardening, cooking, beekeeping and learning to play the drums. West had just relocated her studio from Artspace to her home, so she’s equipped to refocus on jewelry whenever the time is right. And she’s excited for that time; breaks are good. She was set to be part of the Smithsonian Craft Show in the fall, and instead it will take place next fall. Soon she’ll begin to prepare. Meanwhile, “there’s been a growing online art exhibition presence and people are getting more used to that,” West says, and she continues to sell her jewelry online. “The introvert in me, in some ways, didn’t mind this break,” says West. “There are many things to look forward to. The process is yet unfolding.” The Art & Soul of Raleigh

Opposite page: A necklace by Sarah West. This page: More jewelry by the artist, including bracelets, earrings, rings and a brooch. Her work is sold at galleries across the country and through her website, sarahwestdesigns.com.

DECEMBER 2020 | 83


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THE WHIRL Courtesy Jessica Crawford

WALTER’s roundup of gatherings, celebrations and virtual fun around the Triangle.

Guests at the Crawford & Son Pop-Up Dinner

88 Crawford & Son Pop-Up Dinner 89 Buddy Walk 90 Summer Wheat Party 91 BEAS Luncheon 92 Diwali at Dix Park 93 Oakwood Wine Tasting 93 Beach Tailgate

During this time of social distancing, we want to see how you are staying connected with your community. Submit images on our website waltermagazine.com.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh

DECEMBER 2020 | 87


THE WHIRL

Max Kast, Scott Crawford

Yellowtail Crudo

Tula Summerford, Allen Summerford

Justin Russo, Lesley Russo

Musicians from Enloe High School

The Art & Soul of Raleigh

Courtesy Jessica Crawford

CRAWFORD & SON POP-UP DINNER On October 3rd, chef Scott Crawford welcomed 60 guests to City Market’s cobblestone streets for a pop-up dinner featuring Crawford & Son’s "greatest hits." Says Crawford: “It was such a beautiful way for us to safely celebrate our fourth anniversary! We’re excited to be reopening, and filling the space with their smiling faces and the wonderful energy of our team and guests."


BUDDY WALK On October 25, The North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance hosted a different sort of Buddy Walk, inviting friends and families to participate, on their own time, all over the state. With over 1,100 participants, they were able to raise $173,000 with their virtual dance party and Buddy Walk toolkit.

Anna Barnes, Victoria Snead, Amy Barnes, John Beaver, Cindy Hensen, Alison Vick, Josh Price, Lincoln Price, Mary Lynda Hodgins, Caroline Coryea, Kelsi Hensen, Colin Hensen, Lucy Snead, Evangeline Snead, Megan Price, Nolan Price, Sara Coryea

Top row: Henry Whittemore; Aidan O'Connell, Quinn O'Connell. Bottom row: Pepe Toro, Javier Toro, Shelly Toro, Pepito Toro, Mia Toro; Rosabelle Burgess, Paige Burgess, Brad Burgess, Peyton Burgess and Graham Burgess

LESS RED KETTLES + GREATER NEED = NO PRESENTS UNDER THE TREE $500 online gift sponsors a family in need. Please visit wakearmy.org.

Sponsored by #RESCUECHRISTMAS - WAKEARMY.ORG


THE WHIRL SUMMER WHEAT PARTY On October 20, Marjorie Hodges and Carlton Midyette hosted a small gathering of friends at their home in honor of Brooklyn-based artist Summer Wheat and Charlotte's SOCO Gallery. Wheat displayed her paintings and mosaic-covered ottomans. The intimate event was catered by John Upsai of Spread.

The dining room, ready for guests

Hillary Burt, Summer Wheat, Annmarie Weekley Coyle, Marjorie Hodges, Carlton Midyette

( ' $ *! &!" &

* $ $ ) &!

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BEAS LUNCHEON The Betty Eichenberger Adams Society held its annual luncheon on Tuesday, November 10th with a virtual presentation featuring Maya Freelon speaking about her Greater Than or Equal To exhibit for CAM. Sheri Hagerty hosted a small luncheon for guests to view the live event.

Courtesy Klahre(WHEAT) Yves Simon - Eve Hobgood (LUNCEHON)

Believe. Alice Hinman, Frank Harmon, Arthur Gordon, Nina Szlosberg-Landis

Alice Hinman, Frank Harmon, Arthur Gordon, Nina Szlosberg-Landis

nofo @ the pig | 2014 fairview road 919.821.1240 | nofo.com

Jenn Kelly, Sunny Staggs, Kim Battle, Robyn O’Shaughnessy, Beth Louden, Hopie Avery, Ellen Liggett, Mary-Ellen Santos, Sheri Hagerty, Mary Shaver, Tracey Kunz, Cameron Ellerbe, Ashley Andrews, Mary Holmes, Amelia Sholar, Eve Hobgood

The setting for the luncheon.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh


THE WHIRL DIX PARK DIWALI CELEBRATION On Saturday, November 7 Dix Park hosted its first-ever celebration of Diwali, the Indian festival of lights in partnership with VAE Raleigh. Participants like artist Vanipriya Ponnapalli drew mandalas with chalk in the parking lot across from the Flower Cottage. On Sunday, the art was available for public viewing.

Varsha Chawla, Anil Chawla and their children.

Left: Ilina Ewen, Todd Ewen. Right: Bipin Gadi, Vanipriya Ponnapalli and their child.


THE WHIRL

Courtesy KLAHRE

OAKWOOD WINE TASTING On Saturday, October 24, a small group gathered for an evening of Sonomastyle wine tasting in an event dubbed the Oakwood Winefest 2020. Each couple brought bottles of wine from local retailers, including many from North Carolina vineyards, to share with the group and compare tasting notes.

Randy Kilgore, Rachel Kilgore, J.B. Lykes, Susanna Birdsong, Rebecca Necessary, Robby Blyth, Eric Fletcher, Kelli Beale Fletcher

BEACH TAILGATE Greg and Susan Weaver hosted a tailgate on Atlantic Beach on October 25 to watch the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State Universty football game. The Weavers welcomed fans from both teams and no one was injured in the viewing!

There’s no place like home for the Holidays!

Susan Weaver, Greg Weaver, Carly Weaver, Duncan Price

The Art & Soul of Raleigh


SCRIBO Continued from Sweet Sundays, page 62.

Tanya's Gingerbread Cookies

INGREDIENTS 225 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened 240 grams (1 ¼ cups) brown sugar 405 grams (3 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour 2.5 grams (½ teaspoon) baking soda 4.5 grams (1 teaspoon) salt 1 whole egg 250 grams (¾ cup) molasses 5 grams (1 teaspoon) ground ginger 5 grams (1 teaspoon) ground cinnamon DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sugar until well incorporated, then add molasses and egg; mix until combined.

ACROSS 2. Wallace’s intrepid great-grandma 4. End Note: It’s a ___! 5. This Sarah likes geometry 8. Actor and vocalist Lee 9. Where Dodson built a post-and-beam house 10. Wood III’s recurring role 11. Torres-Weiner’s favorite subject 12. Surname of a toymaker 13. Stasio’s The State of ____ DOWN 1. Country crooner Tift 3. Family behind Yellow Dog Bread Co. 6. This jolly guy went to Krispy Kreme 7. Sweet and sturdy construction material

94 | WALTER

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl, then add to butter mixture in three parts, scraping the bowl in between. Divide dough into two to three portions, flatten into a large disk and wrap in plastic wrap. (At this point, you can freeze the dough if you’re not going to use it right away. When you use it, let it thaw until it’s pliable, but still firm and cold.) Flour your surface generously, as well as the top of the dough, and roll to about ¼ inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Dust excess flour off with a pastry brush before baking. Bake on parchment on a sheet pan for about 15 minutes in the oven. You want the final cookie to be slightly firm around the edges and be dry in the appearance on top. Once completely cool, decorate as you desire! Baked cookies keep well in an air-sealed container for up to two weeks.

Rolled Sugar Cookie Dough If your kids love baking and decorating cookies, but you don't want to do the full production each time, make a big batch of this recipe. Andrews suggests to freeze the dough in smaller portions so it’ll thaw quicker. Makes three dozen. INGREDIENTS 480 grams (4 cups) flour 8 grams (2 teaspoons) baking powder 4 grams (¾ teaspoon) salt 272 grams (1 ¼ cups) unsalted butter, softened 380 grams (1 7/8 cups) sugar 3 whole large eggs 4 grams (1 teaspoon) vanilla DIRECTIONS Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter and sugar until well incorporated. In a small bowl, add vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Mix until well-incorporated. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl, then add to butter mixture in three parts, scraping the bowl in between. Flour your surface and the top of the dough generously. Roll to about ¼ inch thick and cut into desired shapes. Dust excess flour off with a pastry brush before baking. Bake on parchment on a sheet pan for 10 to 18 minutes. You want the final cookie to be slightly firm around the edges and dry in an appearance on top.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh

Discovery Education (SCRIBO); Eamon Queeney (COOKIES)

If you want to make a gingerbread house, add a few minutes to the cook time so they are extra firm, then cut your pieces as soon as they come out of the oven with a pizza cutter. Andrews says that if you do this while the dough is still warm and soft, you’ll end up with firm pieces that have nice crisp edges for building. Makes about two dozen.


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END NOTE courtesy Hampton Williams Hofer (BABY); Getty Images (FRAME)

2020,

BABY What a year to be alive, and what a year to be born by HAMPTON WILLIAMS HOFER

O

n the morning of September 29th, I did a hustling waddle through the Rex hospital parking lot in a misty rain. Somewhere in my overnight bag was a newborn outfit made of impossibly soft fabric, adorned with grinning bananas in genderneutral yellow, ready for whomever we would meet. Not long after, against a backdrop of fluorescently-lit blue scrubs and the unnerving sound of the vacuum that assisted her entrance, my new daughter screamed. Who could blame her? “It’s a girl,” my husband said, eyes pulled into a smile above his mask. A pair of gloved hands held her up, that tiny self, all red and quizzical and wrinkled with the mess of life. The hospital was different for this one, my fourth and final child, the girl drawing the curtain closed behind her trail of older brothers. For their births, there had been flowers and balloons, the door to my hospital room revolving with cousins and godparents and my mom’s tennis partner. They brought Oreo milkshakes and stood by the window to get the best lighting for their close-ups with the new arrival. This time it was quiet. The halls were

96 | WALTER

empty. The note on the whiteboard under the TV reminded me to try to walk around, but not to forget my mask if I left the room. I looked at my daughter in those banana pajamas, sleeping after hours camped out at the breast, uninterrupted. All was calm. I looked at the closed door, the promise of peace, and leaned my head back to sleep. That night was the first presidential debate, a bizarre spectacle that I watched on the corner-mounted hospital TV through bleary eyes, my baby to my chest, despite her newness to the world, already suckling wildly, desperate for being. The debate, viewed out of context by innocent eyes, might have seemed like a misunderstood parody of sorts, but in the context of 2020, it was just the bafflement we had come to expect this year. There’s a scene in the Sex and the City movie when Charlotte, the worrier, stresses that things in her life are too good, that something bad is bound to happen. Carrie flashes her sly smile: “Sweetie,” she says, thinking back to the time Charlotte inadvertently drank contaminated water in Mexico, “you shit your pants this year. Maybe you’re done.” They all laugh. And Carrie was

right about Charlotte. Shouldn’t she be right about us? Shouldn’t we have been done after Australia caught on fire, after Kobe Bryant died, after Tiger King entered our homes and the coronavirus shut down our lives? Surely we should have been done after Harry and Meghan stepped down as senior royals, for heaven’s sake. But we weren’t. There came the threat of murder hornets, the real murder. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Hit after hit. We got to the point where a massive explosion in Beirut, one that displaced hundreds of thousands of people, was a mere blip, a brief eyebrow raise, a flick of the thumb as we scrolled. This is the world my new baby found, but it won’t be the one she leaves. There is work to be done, my girl. And there is beauty to be found. There’s no quota on the bad stuff, sometimes it keeps hitting, but you are proof of good, of promise. When your ten-year-old cousin first held you in his arms, he looked up and said, “I’ve caught fish bigger than this.” All it took was eight pounds to redeem this year for us, to make it the best one we’ve known. What power you have, just by living.


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Hang in there, kiddo. At WakeM Med Children’s, we love what we do alm most as much as who we do it for. That’ss why, at the community’s only children’s hospital, you’ll find all sorts of pediatric specialties, all under one roof. Physicianss, surgeons, nurses, techs and su upp p ort specialists, all pediatric-trained. And inpattient care, outpatient care and emergency care designed just for kids. Delivered d by hundreds of experts, all of them thoroughly dedicated to a happy, healthy ch hildhood for every one of our kids. To learn more, visit us online today.

wakemed.org/childrens

Children’s Specialties: Anesthesiology • Behavioral Health • Cardiology • Critical Care Medicine • Ear, Nose and Throat • Emergency Medicine • Endocrinology • Gastroenterology • Hospital Medicine Neonatology • Neurology • Orthopaedics • Physical Rehabilitation • Primary Care • Pulmonology • Radiology • Surgery • Urgent Care • Urology • Weight Management • And More


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