WALTER Magazine - November 2022

Page 1

His delicious fusion of Thanksgiving traditions

Art & Soul of Raleigh
Oscar Diaz
Raleigh | Cary | Rocky Mount Greenville | Los Angeles
JOHNSON LEXUS OF RALEIGH 5839 Capital Blvd. Raleigh, NC 27616 (919) 877 - 1800 JOHNSON LEXUS OF DURHAM 1013 Southpoint Autopark Blvd. Durham, NC 27713 (919) 433 - 8800
2004 YONKERS ROAD, RALEIGH, NC 27604 | 919-754-9754


Create an environment you love inside your home. As cool weather descends, layer your living space in plush mohair, deep velvet, worsted wools and feisty faux furs to warm it up. Tones of hunter, cocoa, oxblood and aubergine play off these richer fabrics.

And while the flowers may have faded, nature’s beauty has not: adorn your home in brilliant evergreens and curvaceous branches to invite the outdoors in. Finish the display with a collection of favorite objects. Be they well-worn or brand-new, they’re sure to spark conversation... and connection.

Sofa by Lillian August for Hickory White, Ottoman by Leathercraft, Wingback and Wicker Chairs by Universal Furniture, Side Table by Gabby Home
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31EXPLORE: A Walk in the Dark Five local hikes to take in the night sky

35 MUSIC: All Shook Up A new project for Sarah Shook

39GIVERS: The Power of One Molly Painter’s call to help create housing for the homeless

43NATURE: The Changing of the Guard Winter arrivals at the bird feeder

47CREATORS: Renaissance Man Mixologist Joel Finsel

50 SIMPLE LIFE: My November Song Reflecting on love and loss

52 NOTED: Family Style A memorable Disney vacation

54 Q&A: Favorite Things Frances Mayes’ sense of home

On the cover: Oscar Diaz; photography by Eamon Queeney
IN EVERY ISSUE 14 Editor’s Letter 18 Contributors 19 Your Feedback 23 Datebook 85 The Whirl 95 Extras 96 End Note
Katherine Poole (BOOKS); Jillian Clarke (SARAH SHOOK)
35 96 Apex Location 123 North Salem Street 919.363.6990 Raleigh Location 8828 Midway West Road Appointment Only


57 Chime by Debra Kaufman

illustration by Kristen Solecki

58 Turkey with a Twist

Cortez chef Oscar Diaz infuses his Thanksgiving meal with tradition by Catherine Currin

photography by Eamon Queeney

70 Give Local Organizations building resilience by Susanna Klingenberg

76 Design with Purpose

Vines Architecture’s influence on public spaces by J. Michael Welton

76 70
courtesy Vines Architecture (DURHAM MAIN LIBRARY); S.P. Murray (PUPPIES)

For the last few years, an apron has been part of my daily wardrobe. Most days I leave the office and head straight to the kitchen to get dinner going — lest the children hit help themselves to ice cream before I can get some veggies on their plates. If I can shave off a few minutes by wearing my business-casual instead of changing into athleisure, there’s a chance we’ll make it to both violin and soccer practices on time. (Even if we forget the actual violin, like we did this week. #fail)

So I throw on an apron to make dinner, and if my husband’s making dinner, I’ll wear one to do the dishes. And sometimes I’ll wear one while I’m eating dinner, if it’s something sloppy, like chili. Aprons are very handy.

The first aprons I remember wearing were ones my mom made in 4-H as a girl — each a version of a half-apron, with a ruffle along the edge and a pocket in the middle. Those are still in circulation, some at my house and some at my parents’ place, and my daughters pull them out whenever we bake.

I have some “designer” aprons I’ve received as gifts from friends, ones that are still clean enough to wear when we’re expecting guests. I have everyday aprons, like one I made myself the summer after I graduated from college. I was living back at home while searching for my first real job, so my mom signed me up for a sewing class at the local craft store to add some structure to the

summer. That kept me busy for a few weeks, and I’m still super proud of that very 2000s pink-and-green concoction. I even made an oven mitt to match!

And then I have a set of aprons that is particularly special to me, because it figures into every Thanksgiving. When my oldest was about 2 and started showing interest in “helping” in the kitchen, my Aunt Mary made aprons for me, my mom and my toddler daughter in a Paris-themed print. We now wear them every year when we make pies, whether we are together or apart. After my second daughter was born, my aunt made her one, too, with remnants from the previous three.

These aprons are now beat up and stained, and the girls have almost grown out of them. But they’re still such an important part of our Thanksgiving ritual — pulling out all the ingredients, opening my (also beat up and stained) cookbook and putting on our little French aprons to get down to the business of making dessert.

Those apron strings tie up family, food and tradition — so many of the things I’m grateful for in November, and all year ‘round.

Left: The WALTER team at WINnovation. Right: Our Thanksgiving aprons, the first year we had all four. Maddy Gray (WINNOVATION); courtesy Ayn-Monique Klahre (APRONS) 5634DurhamChapelHillBlvd. CornerofI-40and15-501(Exit270) Hours:M-F10-6,ClosedWeekends 30-75%Off NOV1ST - 30TH

Pearls, the Queen of Gems At Haydon &

From our extensive collection of pearls including Tahitian, South Sea, and Akoya pearls.

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Holiday Pops




Creative Director


Associate Editor ADDIE LADNER

Contributing Writers Wiley Cash, Catherine Currin, Jim Dodson, Mike Dunn, Debra Kaufman, Susanna Klingenberg, David Menconi, Joe Miller, CC Parker, Liza Roberts, J. Michael Welton, Larry Wheeler

Contributing Copy Editor

Finn Cohen

Contributing Photographers Mallory Cash, Jillian Clark, Tyler Cunningham, Maddy Gray, S.P. Murray, Katherine Poole, Eamon Queeney

Contributing Illustrators

Gerry O’Neill, Kristen Solecki, David Stanley




Advertising Sales Manager


Senior Account Executive & Operations CRISTINA HURLEY

Events Manager


Finance STEVE ANDERSON 910-693-2497


JACK BURTON Inquiries? WALTER OFFICE 984-286-0928

Address all correspondence to: WALTER magazine, 421 Fayetteville Street, Suite 104 Raleigh, N.C. 27601

WALTER is available by paid subscriptions for $25 a year in the United States, as well as select rack and advertiser locations throughout the Triangle. Subscribe online at

For customer service inquiries, please email us at or call 818-286-3118.

WALTER does not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Please contact Ayn-Monique Klahre at for freelance guidelines.



© WALTER magazine. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of the copyright owner. Published 12 times a year by The Pilot LLC.

The Greatest Story Ever Told Handel’s Messiah
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Friday, November 18th

5:30 pm - 9 p.m.


A Raleigh-based photojournalist, Queeney is usually exploring the state for clients like The New York Times and The Washington Post after cutting his teeth at the Columbus Dispatch in Ohio for a number of years. These days he can be found working with a camera or cycling around Raleigh while smiling a lot — wave if you see him, he’ll wave back! “While working with talented chefs is always a pleasure, Chef Oscar and the team at Cortez have a real warmth that hopefully comes through in the images. And I can attest, y’all: The food is as good as it looks! These recipes have the power to bring people together this holiday season.”

Join us in our celebration of the start of the holiday season with the lighting of our tree. Retailers and restaurants will offer special sales/promotions; check online for details. We’ll also treat you to graceful aerialists, live holiday music, super cool pictures, a chance to meet Santa and lots of opportunities to win prizes from our merchants.

302 Colonades Way

Cary, NC 27518

(919) 859-5818

Visit for more information



Raleigh native CC Parker has been sharing her family travel adventures with WALTER readers since 2013. When asked to share a humorous childhood holiday memory, Parker knew the 1986 trip her family took to Disney World would be perfect. “I have officially apologized to both my parents for being such a pill — and I hope my children don’t read this piece.”


Susanna Klingenberg is a writer and editor based in Raleigh. When she’s not helping researchers polish their prose, Klingenberg is collecting stories of local people and places — a venture that leaves her reveling at the vibrant energy in the Triangle. “It’s always a joy to learn about local nonprofits. Raleigh is so full of creative and compassionate people!”


David Stanley is a freelance illustrator serving editorial, advertising and corporate clients both at home and abroad. Stanley attended East Carolina, majoring in communication art with a concentration in illustration (that was back before we wore helmets). He loves bringing ideas to life, whether it’s with a brush, stylus or purple crayon. He lives in Greensboro with his incredible wife, three kids, two cats and too much coffee. He escapes outdoors whenever possible and can hardly be recognized without his sketchbook. Or in a pinch, he’s doodling on a napkin. As his mom used to say, “David’s been drawing since he was able to hold a pencil.” “The teenage angst and irritation in this story deserved the spotlight!” Learn more about Stanley at

Courtesy contributors

“You should be very proud of your publication. It has thoughtful, interesting content and is beautifully designed.”

“Thank you for this fabulous article on The Power of Women in Country Music. The detail, the depth, the descriptions — all perfection.”

“These seven pages brought me to tears of wonder, gratitude, and something else: that connection you feel when another person finds beauty, interest and value in the same things you do (in this case — storied family pieces, weird kitschy concoctions, themed rooms, tiny details). People of WALTER, thank you for seeing the artists, even those like me who aren’t famous; for “getting” us and validating our sometimes inexplicable pursuits, like saving ratty t-shirts and 70-year-old homework assignments. You are top of your game in the work of meaning-making.”

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All month | See website


Tuesdays | 5 - 8 p.m.

Spice up your weekday with live music on the patio while devouring tangy chicken wings and a hearty beer at recently opened eatery Brookside Bodega. Acoustic jazz musician Sheila Casalett and Durham-based group String Break are among the local acts on the lineup in November. Free to listen; 1000 Brookside Drive, Suite 119;


Nov. 4 - 13 | See website


Fearrington Village was first opened by world-traveling couple Jenny and R.B. Fitch in the 1960s. This month it’s celebrating the 40th birthday of the Fearrington House Restaurant with a special seven-course, wine-paired menu by Chef Paul Gagne. Enjoy dishes that blend classic Southern ingredients with French flair, like a Foie Gras Mousse with Apple Butter or Prosciutto-Wrapped Veal with Thumbelina’s Carrot Duxelle and Haw River Mushrooms. Use the special dinner menu as an excuse to make a day trip out so you can spend time walking through the gardens, perusing the titles at McIntyre’s Books or shopping at local boutiques. $175; 2000 Fearrington Village Center, Pittsboro;

Over 30-plus years, Steel Magnolias has become a classic Southern play — and there’s no better way to enjoy it than as interpreted by a Southern institution like North Carolina Theatre and its Raleigh-born director Lauren Kennedy. Following the lives of four women who regularly gather at a beauty parlor in a fictional Louisiana parish, Steel Magnolias is a universal, deeply human exploration of resilience, sisterhood and love that will have you laughing through your tears. “It’s also a comedy that delivers hilarious wit alongside true wisdom from a bouquet of characters and storylines you will find both familiar and refreshing,” says Elizabeth Doran, president and CEO of NC Theatre. From $24; 2 E. South Street;

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 23
courtesy Fearrington (FEARRINGTON); courtesy Brookside (BANDS)
Craft fairs, a unique ice rink and culture galore are what’s on tap this month in the City of Oaks.
TOWN All information is accurate as of press time, but please check and the event websites for the latest updates


Nov. 5 | 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Shop directly from more than 50 local artisans at the Fall Arts Fair at Fred Fletcher Park, where creations like John Pelosi’s wood works, Peter Borsay’s vibrant prints, Suijin Li Snyder’s delicate jewelry and Laurie McNair’s ceramics will be on display. Hosted by the Pullen and Sertoma Arts Centers, the fair will also include guitarist Wayne Schindler and the North Carolina Chamber Music Institute among the musical entertainment of the day. Poetry Fox will be there waxing verse for anyone who needs words to ponder, plus there will be craft activities for kids and art demonstrations. Plan to have a meal there: food trucks will be on site, including Roasted and Toasted (smoothies, coffee, waffles) and Chirba Chirba Dumpling Truck (try the mini chicken dumplings tossed in chili oil). Free admission; 820 Clay Street;


All month | See website NOTED

Step inside the Gregg Museum of Art & Design this month to be transported to Egypt of the early 20th century. The centerpiece of its Egyptian Tent exhibit is a rare, colorfully appliquéd Egyptian tour tent available for public viewing for the first time. Standing around 12 feet tall and 13 feet wide, it’s displayed on a platform so visitors can step inside to get an up-close view of the ornate detailing of pharaohs and hieroglyphics on its interior panels. It is the only known example of an Egyptian “street tent” of this era with alternating Islamic and Pharaonic images on the interior — a mashup of faith symbols made to please tourists to the country when Western interest was at its peak. Also in the exhibition are a number of other appliquéd tent panels and a rotating projection of images that show what a visitor to Cairo would have encountered at the time. Free admission; 1903 Hillsborough Street;

courtesy Gregg Museum
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Nov. 5 | 10 a.m. & 2 p.m.

New York City-based Vital Theatre Company is making its Garner debut with Pinkalicious the Musical, an entertaining and educational spectacle for audiences of all ages. Based on the children’s book, the plot revolves around the sweets-loving Pinkalicious, who can’t stop eating pink cupcakes — until she wakes up pink from head to toe. “The GPAC is thrilled to offer quality programming that will engage the young people of our community,” says Garner’s arts and culture superintendent Amy Pridgen. “We’ve made sure to keep ticket prices as low as possible so that everyone can enjoy it.” $5 for children, $10 for adults; 742 W. Garner Road, Garner;


Nov. 9 | 6 - 9 p.m.

Settle in with a glass of wine and heavy hors d’oeuvres for a conversation with Frances Mayes, the New York Times best-selling author of Under the Tuscan Sun, among others. Mayes’ latest book, A Place in the World: Finding the Meaning of Home, explores her connections to the homes she’s lived in over the years, as well as significant locales from her travels. Presented by WALTER magazine and Fink’s Jewelers, it’s an event that will transport you to Italy, Nicaragua, Mexico — and even around the Carolinas. From $65; 1053 E. Whitaker Mill Road, Suite 111; francesmayes

Pigfish Lane Antiques & Interiors

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 25
antiques • porcelain • art old & new • custom framing • carpets lamp shades & repair • custom-built furniture • (919) 436-4006 • • 5425 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh “INTERESTING STUFF” FOR YOUR HOME & COLLECTIONS christmas tour Candlelight HISTORIC BEAUFORT’S S AT U R D AY, D E C E M B E R 1 0 T H 5 – 8 p . m . $ 2 5 f o r a d u l t s b e a u f o r t h i s t o r i c s i t e . o r g 2 5 2 . 7 2 8 . 5 2 2 5 courtesy Garner
Arts Center


November 12 - 13 | 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Shop regionally made art, stocking stuffers and hand-crafted ornaments at Cedar Creek Gallery’s Holiday Open House in Creedmoor, a hub for regional and national artists. Santa will be on-site for photo opps and wish lists. Should the temperature be low enough, Jennifer Dolan, Cedar Creek’s gallery manager, says the fireplace will be roaring. “And we have a wrap your own gift station set up near the fireplace, which people love,” Dolan says. A big draw are the unconventional Christmas trees and ornaments Cedar Creek brings in for the holidays, all handmade from materials like glass, metal and clay. Free admission; 1150 Fleming Road, Creedmoor;



All month | See websites

Famous for directing blockbusters like The Terminator, Titanic and Avatar, James Cameron is also an environmentalist and deep-sea diver — he’s even made a record-setting dive to the bottom of the Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean. The traveling exhibition Challenging the Deep at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences shares his explorations. Get up close with artifacts and specimens Cameron has collected over the years, like a jar of crustaceans collected from the Mariana Trench. Learn about the underwater technologies used on his expeditions and enjoy mesmerizing imagery from his travels. And don’t worry, Titanic fans: There will also be props and costumes from the film, including the iconic Heart of the Ocean “diamond.” From $16; 11 W. Jones Street;

Getty Images (ORNAMENT); courtesy North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (CAMERON)
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Nov. 13 | 4 - 6 p.m.

Learn how to make a hand-poured candle — perfect for gifting this time of year! — with local candle maker Stacy Ahua of Usu Co. inside the North Carolina Museum of Art. Themed “Finding Gratitude,” the event includes the candle workshop, sips and small bites, an after-hours tour of the museum gallery and private shopping at the Museum Store. “This is more than just making a candle,” says Ahua. “It’s a chance to design a scent and make memories that are unique and special, while getting an up close seat to how the worlds of fragrance and art come together.” From $55; 2110 Blue Ridge Road;


Nov. 16 | 6:30 p.m.

The grand finale of Vidrio’s “Taste Tour of the Mediterranean” monthly dinner series is an opportunity to eat your way through France during an exclusive multicourse dining experience. Hosted by the 2021 NCRLA Chef of the Year, Saif Rahman, the meal will showcase the rustic cooking he’s known for, using top-notch yet simple ingredients and cooking techniques. Guests can expect to savor dishes inspired by the classic culture and produce found in local French markets. Vidrio’s in-house sommelier will expertly pair four French wines throughout the meal. $200 per person; 500 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 100;

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 27
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courtesy Vidrio (FOOD)


November 17 - 20 |

See website

In the early 1820s, Ludwig van Beethoven composed his last masterpiece, Symphony No. 9, his ‘choral’ symphony, with more than an hour of powerful scores topped off with vocalists singing Ode to Joy. Carolina Ballet will bring the iconic music to life at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts with choreography by troupe founder Robert Weiss and music by a chamber orchestra and the North Carolina Master Chorale. From $37; 2 E. South Street;


Nov. 19 | 9:30 a.m.

What better way to kick off the holiday season than to make a pot of hot chocolate, bundle up the kids and grab your portable chairs to watch the 78th annual Raleigh Christmas Parade? Past years have included cameos from giant balloons of Kermit the Frog and Shrek, marching bands, dozens of dancers, twirlers and more. Use the parade — which is presented in partnership with Shop Local Raleigh — as an excuse to make a day of it downtown and support a nearby small business. Pop into DECO, Read with Me or Father & Son Antiques to get a head start on holiday shopping, or get downtown early to grab a coffee and breakfast from Morning Times or Jubala. If you prefer to stay in your sweatpants in the comfort of your home, ABC11 will be streaming the entire thing. Just don’t miss the chance to see Santa! Free; downtown Raleigh;


Starting Nov. 19 | See website


Nov. 17 | 6 - 9 p.m.

Want an easy and fun way to give back around Thanksgiving? Purchase a ticket to Italian restaurant Mulino’s annual Turkey Ball, a tradition started in 2018. At this fundraising event, wine will be flowing alongside Italian-inspired eats, with proceeds benefiting the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. Last year the ball raised $6,000 for charity and helped 200 turkeys grace folks’ holiday tables in Wake County. $45; 309 N. Dawson Street;


Nov. 18 - 19 | See website

Experience the culture of our state’s native peoples at the annual American

Indian Heritage Celebration at the North Carolina Museum of History. With a virtual education day on Friday and in-person festival on Saturday, demonstrators from around the state will discuss the themes, symbols and artistry that contribute to American Indian culture and tradition. The festival will include hands-on activities like beadwork demonstrations and a sweet sorghum syrup tasting, as well as drumming and dancing presentations, and will take place both inside the museum and outside on the Bicentennial Plaza. Free; 5 E. Edenton Street;

Red Hat Amphitheater is trading its amps for ice skates: It’s paving over the pit in front of the stage with ice to create THE RINK at Red Hat, which will be open weekdays and weekends through the winter so folks can glide outdoors while enjoying the skyline. Surrounding the ice, there’s room to thaw out on a roomy turf lounge area, complete with comfy chairs, fire pits, games, snacks and beverages (for both kids and adults). Ice skates and skate mates are available for rent. From $6; 500 S. McDowell Street;

courtesy Carolina Ballet (DANCER); courtesy Mulino (TURKEYS); courtesy North Carolina Museum of History (AMERICAN INDIAN); cour tesy Red Hat Amphitheater (RINK); Bryan Regan (SANTA)
li S

Light Up your Holidays

Unpack more than your decorations this season. In Winston-Salem, we’re offering a whole new way to experience the holidays.

. Come join us — and spend an evening touring candlelit estates festooned with century-old decorations. Enjoy cocoa and carols and a million twinkle lights. Or feast your eyes — and soul — on Moravian love sweets you can only find here. So grab your keys. Reserve your favorite hotel. And experience the magic of Winston-Salem for the holidays.

Plan your well-crafted getaway now at


A WALK in the DARK

Five hikes and natural areas best enjoyed after the sun goes down

“Are you sure it’s OK to be here?” the hiker asked. I flipped on my headlamp and aimed it at my watch. It was 8:50 on a Tuesday evening in late September. The sun had set an hour and a half earlier, and it would be more than an hour before the park closed.

I switched off my headlamp. “We’ve got plenty of time,” I said. “Enjoy the sky.”

Fall is generally considered peak season for hiking with its cooler temperatures, kaleidoscopic colors and absence of pesky,

flying, biting things. Yet fall can also conjure a bit of melancholy as an early-setting sun also turns the lights out on midweek, after-work escapes into nature.

It shouldn’t.

The night is an enchanting time to be out, and the Triangle has some surprisingly good spots for savoring the night sky. Some require a short hike (headlamp required) and some you can enjoy from the hood of your car. Here are five of my favorites. Closing times at each location vary; please check the appropriate web site before heading out.

Getty Images The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 31


Penny’s Bend Nature Preserve is known in naturalist circles for its sweet, high-pH soils that support plants more common to the prairies of the Midwest. For that reason, the North Carolina Botanical Garden, which manages the 84-acre preserve (the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns it) has been actively working to clear trees to improve the prospects for those plants. The result: a large clearing atop a bluff overlooking the Eno River, where the stars above earn billing with the smooth purple coneflower below. Reach the clearing by hiking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail a mile upstream from the parking lot, then hanging a right at the sign for a short climb to the clearing. Including the return, it’s a 2.5-mile hike.

Old Oxford Road at Snow Camp Road, Durham;


A popular spot for catching a wide sweep of the night sky is Horton Grove Nature Preserve, the Triangle Land Conservancy’s largest preserve at 708 acres. Here, the main parking area sits amid a sizable meadow, the conservancy’s attempt to recreate a piedmont prairie. The venue provided a clear shot at 2017’s partial eclipse during that sunny day, and on a clear, crisp fall night it offers perhaps the region’s best view of the night sky, thanks to its remove from urban light pollution. And since the clearing is part of the parking lot, you don’t even need to hike to it — but if you want to get in an end-of-day hike, hop onto the adjoining Holman, Hart, Justice and Latta trails for a 3.2-mile loop.

7360 Jock Road, Bahama;


The 2,175-mile Mountains-toSea Trail is full of surprises as it explores the state from Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge State Park in

Joe Miller Horton Grove Mountains -to-Sea Trail

Nags Head; its 60-mile run along Falls Lake through Durham and Wake counties is no exception. Hiking east from the access off Cheek Road in Durham, you’re in a maturing hardwood forest until, a half mile in, you aren’t. There, you skim a large, cleared area created not for reasons of nature, but for a massive power line. Fortunately, the power line is all but invisible in the dark, letting you focus on a night sky that’s particularly rewarding during the Leonid meteor shower in November or the Perseid display in August.

6112 Cheek Road, Durham;


The heart of a glowing metro area may not seem the best spot for spectacular stargazing, but this corner of Umstead State Park offers a surprisingly good view, thanks in part to the surrounding woods. It’s also relatively easy to get to, with a gravel access road that drops to the lake from the Harrison Avenue lot in less than a mile. The distance is short enough that you can bring a camp chair and settle in for a relaxing evening until the park closes (at 6 p.m. in winter — but with the sun setting not long past 5 p.m., there’s plenty of time to enjoy the end of day and the start of night).

2100 N. Harrison Avenue, Cary;


The main access to Eno River State Park is a top candidate for night sky viewing because of its grassy expanse within the circular parking lot. Still, we recommend hiking the 3.75mile Cox Mountain Trail loop from the parking area, then fetching your chairs afterwards to relax in the meadow under the stars. Another plus: cell reception is spotty here, meaning your escape into the heavens won’t be interrupted by a terrestrial telemarketer. This part of the park stays open until 8 p.m. in November and 7 p.m. December through February. 6101 Cole Mill Road, Durham;

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 33
Getty Images


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Sarah Shook’s latest project dips into a new genre

Like a lot of musicians, Chapel Hill’s Sarah Shook passed 2020 with a quarantine project. But Shook’s was less a simple musical project than a radical reinvention. Having just embraced sobriety after years of alcohol abuse, Shook marked the occasion with a solo album. Titled Cruel Liars, it was released under the name Mightmare, and is a radical departure from the straight-up honky-tonk of Shook’s first three records.

“It wasn’t just my pandemic project, it was also my ‘freshly sober and not having anything to do indefinitely, so I’ve got to keep myself busy for who knows how long’ project,” Shook says. “I produced, wrote, composed, arranged, recorded and engineered everything myself. Not having a drummer really changed the sound. I did want it to be a lot less country, more indie-rock. Using just electronic drums took it in more of a

new-wave, synth-pop direction, which was cool.”

Performing along with their longtime backup band The Disarmers, the musician comes across as a honky-tonk equivalent to Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, with a switchblade voice delivering bar-room epigrams like, “God never makes mistakes, he just makes fuck-ups.” By contrast, the music of Mightmare (a name Shook took from a typo on a lyrics-captioned video by Creedence Clearwater Revival) sounds like it would have been right at home on college radio stations during the 1980s alongside The Cure or Depeche Mode.

“This is certainly very different from the Disarmers stuff, but Sarah is often underestimated,” says Ian Schreier, Shook’s longtime producer and engineer in the studio. “A real artist can transcend genre, because genre is just a tool for writing songs. As different as this record is, it’s still very Sarah.”

MUSIC The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 35


Born in Rochester, New York, in 1985, Shook landed in North Carolina in 2005, playing in bands and living in the country while bartending at Chapel Hill nightspot The Cave. Shook has always been unconventional for a country performer, openly bisexual and nonbinary with an attitude seemingly better suited to punk rock — and the lyrics to match.

“Performer” is actually not the most obvious career track for Shook. “I was extremely antisocial as a kid,” they say. “It was hard for me to talk to or even look at people.” Shook still remembers their mother’s reaction to news of their first show: “She said, Sorry, I just can’t wrap my head around this,” Shook recalls. “You’re going to get onstage in front of people and sing? ”

But summoning the fortitude to keep playing, singing and recording is part of Shook’s ongoing personal as well as musical work. Part of that includes taking care of their mental health, something Shook set their mind to three years ago.

Over the past decades of performancing, Shook had mostly worked in bars, and found that alcohol abuse was an easy trap to fall into. It took a toll for years before Shook finally resolved to escape. “Toward the end of my drinking days, it had gone on so long that I got really tired of it,” Shook says. “Knowing what to expect every day and night, and how I’d feel every morning, got to be boring. Getting sober was actually scarier than continuing to drink myself to death, and I

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like to push myself to do scary things. So I did.”

While Shook doesn’t believe in sobriety for everyone, “it’s something I needed to do,” they say. “This record never would have happened with drinking, which was taking up so much time and mental energy. Thanks to recovery, I made it by myself. This has been my busiest year ever.”

Indeed, Cruel Liars is Shook’s second release of 2022, following the release of the Sarah Shook and The Disarmers’ country record Nightroamer. Chances are that the new-wave pop of Cruel Liars will be just a temporary change of pace rather than long-term new direction, with a return to another Disarmers country record on the schedule for 2023.

“I have no interest in turning the Disarmers into Mightmare, or vice versa,” says Shook. “Mightmare is a good sideproject outlet for me to get all my creative neuroses into the world without any outside criticism or disagreements or even input. It’s me at my most obsessed, working on music for 12 hours a day while forgetting to eat.”

Not surprisingly, most of Cruel Liars is minor-key moody. But the album does have something of a breakthrough, “Easy,” in which Shook sings the praises of a newfound love.

“It’s the first song I’ve ever put out that’s completely optimistic, with no shadows or tinges of melancholy,” says Shook. “I wrote that at a time when I was freshly in love with my current partner and things were going beyond well. You date enough crappy people for long enough and get into something better and deeper, and you think, Man, I am going to write the best, happiest song about this person ever. So I did.”

And is that song’s subject still living up to it?

“Absolutely. Hands down,” Shook says.

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The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 37
“This record never would have happened with drinking, which was taking up so much time and mental energy.” — Sarah Shook
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the POWER of ONE

Molly Painter turned a spark of inspiration into 100 homes for Raleigh’s unhoused

It was a sunny day in 2018 when Molly Painter grabbed a book and headed to the beach for some downtime. The Hundred Story Home by Kathy Izard had been on her shelf for months, but Painter hadn’t cracked the cover. Finally reading the book — a firsthand account of one woman’s successful mission to build housing for Charlotte’s homeless — hit her like a bolt. It galvanized her to action and changed her life and the lives of hundreds of others in

the process.

“I literally felt like God was saying, You have to do this,” Painter recalls. “I was crying. I went inside and said to my husband, Michael, this is what we have to do.”

The calling was new, but the context was not. Painter had already befriended several homeless women she’d come to know at The Women’s Center day shelter in downtown Raleigh, where she’d been serving lunch and regularly meeting

GIVERS The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 39

women for coffee. Painter, her husband and their three girls had attended church with these friends, shared lunches and dinners with them, gone on walks with them, driven them to appointments, taken them to see A Christmas Carol

“I felt so connected to the women from the beginning,” Painter says. The more time she spent with them, the closer she got, and the more concerned she became for their health and well-being. Most of them slept in a covered area in a downtown parking lot. It was unsafe and unsustainable. She and a group of fellow volunteers — including Betty Nelson, Fraley Marshall, Katie Koon, Sally Tanner and Marcie Porterfield — determined that what their friends needed most were stable homes.

“A lot of affordable housing is not for the most vulnerable,” Painter says, referring to more abundant workforce housing. “We wanted to serve people straight out of homelessness and surround them with services on-site.”

It was a bold vision, requiring substantial funds, experienced partners and determination. Painter sought out the advice of Izard and visited her housing community in Charlotte. She partnered with Missy Hatley, senior director of resource development at CASA — a Triangle nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness through affordable housing — to outline a similar community housing project in East Raleigh, now known as King’s Ridge. And though she’d never raised money before, Painter helped bring in nearly $23 million by telling the story of her friends, their needs and the solution she and CASA envisioned. Donations came from individuals, corporations and foundations, and were combined with federal, state and local funding. Through the link with CASA, Painter also helped forge plans with WakeMed, Alliance Health and others to provide services on-site.

“Molly helped the community see how important this is, and how it required more than the city to solve it,” says Erin Yates, newly appointed director of King’s Ridge. “She made these friends [at the Women’s Center], and she saw their challenges and genuinely wanted to help lift them up. She sat, and

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she listened, and she didn’t try to change them. She heard a need from these women and went out to seek answers.”

On March 29, less than four years after that lightning-bolt day, Painter and the founding group of volunteers donned hard hats and broke ground on a 6-acre parcel of wooded land. The development, a 100-home community, will have on-site case management, health care and community space. And once it’s finished, hopefully in early 2024, King’s Ridge is estimated to single-handedly reduce homelessness in Wake County by 10 percent.

“I love Molly and I love what she’s done,” says Izard. She says she is honored to have played a part in inspiring the creation of King’s Ridge, but she will not take credit: “I would say my part in Molly’s story was to amplify the whisper she was already hearing.”

Painter is also quick to credit others. Starting at the beginning, she took a cue from Koon, who’d organized the weekly coffees with the women at The Women’s Center. “Katie broke down the barriers,” she says. “I thought, Oh, that’s how you do it. You just be yourself. And once I started to get to know these ladies, I just couldn’t wait to go back.”

The feeling was clearly mutual. “I fell in love with them,” says Painter’s friend Carol [last name redacted for privacy], who first met Painter at The Women’s Center in 2017 and met her family shortly thereafter. “When we met, my daughter and I were sleeping at Walmart in the car. Molly was serving lunch. She’s got a heart for people.”

Another friend from The Women’s Center, Rebecca, says Painter’s friendship is a gift from God. “She wouldn’t just serve food,” she says. “She would talk to us, and care, and ask us about our lives. She gave me her number. I tell her stories, and she follows up. She calls me. I like that she has a quiet spirit, like me. I like her heart.”

Now it’s Painter’s turn to be an inspiration to others. “We come with purpose, we are built with purpose,” Izard says, “and if you believe in it and you listen, and trust, anything is possible. And Molly has shown that in Raleigh.”

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 41
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words and photographs by

ird watching is incredibly popular, but you don’t have to travel to the wilds of another country to see an incredible variety of species. If you pay close attention to your own feeder, you’ll see that late fall offers a “changing of the guard.”

At any bird feeder in the eastern United States, there are a handful of common birds we regularly see, like the Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, Mourning Dove, Carolina Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse. Many of these birds are resident species, staying in our area all year.

But in November, we start seeing some additions to the cast of characters. Some have not traveled far, perhaps just across the state from our mountains, where they spend the summer raising their young. Others come from as far north as the boreal forest of Canada and may only visit our feeders every few years when food is scarce in the forests they call home. The timing of these birds’ arrival and how long they stay may be related to weather conditions and food availability both here and on their summer ranges.

Dark-eyed Juncos are known to many people as “snow birds,” since they often show up about the time of the first snow. They are widespread across the U.S. and have a distinctive white belly under a dark gray head, neck and back. They often show up in flocks, feeding on the ground along habitat edges and under your feeder. They nest farther north and at higher elevations, including in the North Carolina mountains. Juncos typically nest in a grasslined cup on the ground, often along the edge of trails. A nesting bird may stay put until the last second before flying off — more than once while hiking, I have been startled by a junco flushing out from under my feet! Northern birds migrate south each fall while many of our mountain birds undergo a “vertical migration,” from higher to lower elevations. Juncos are one of our most common winter birds and we can expect to see them between October and April.

One of my favorite winter visitors is

for these new arrivals at your bird feeders this fall
BNATURE The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 43
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

the energetic Ruby-crowned Kinglet. They are bold and inquisitive as they flit around, flicking their wings as they go. I have even had them land on the suet feeder while I am putting it back on its hanger! Watch them closely and you may see the bold ruby-red stripe atop their tiny heads — they tend to raise those feathers when they’re agitated.

Another regular winter visitor in our woods is the subtly beautiful Hermit Thrush. They do visit our feeders, but their main diet consists of the berries on our native trees and shrubs. Years ago, my father collected some dogwood berries from his trees and refrigerated them as a bird-feeding treat. I placed some berries on our deck rail after a snow and had Eastern Bluebirds and Hermit Thrushes visiting regularly to gobble them up.

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker has one of the best names in the bird world. The

sapsucker is our only truly migratory woodpecker, nesting in northern forests and our mountains, much like the juncos. They occasionally visit suet feeders in winter, but their presence is more often detected by the telltale signs they leave on tree trunks and branches: horizontal rows of ¼-inch diameter holes that they drill to feed on the sap of trees. They tend to favor certain trees (maybe those with good sap flow) and may come back year after year to the same one; fortunately, the drilling generally does not harm a healthy tree. Insects are attracted to the sap, and sapsuckers and other birds will feed on the holes as well.

There is a special relationship between sapsuckers and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. When hummingbirds return from their wintering grounds in the tropics, sometimes before many flowers are producing nectar, they often feed at

sapsucker holes and have been observed following sapsuckers from tree to tree.

Purple Finches are one of the socalled irruptive species, whose numbers on the wintering grounds can fluctuate greatly from year to year, depending on food resources and weather in their northern forest habitats. They can be quite common at sunflower seed feeders in abundant years. Purple Finches are often confused with House Finches, a year-round resident in our area. Roger Tory Peterson, the ornithologist who is considered the father of the modern field guide, described male Purple Finches as a “sparrow dipped in raspberry juice.” House Finch males tend more toward an orange-red than the wine color of a male Purple Finch. I find the easiest way to recognize Purple Finches is by paying attention to their distinct whitish eye stripe, which is especially noticeable on the females (males have a light-colored streak behind the eye as well, but it’s harder to see with their raspberry tinting).

Evening Grosbeaks are the holy grail of irruptive species here in the Piedmont. They made a spectacular appearance at feeders throughout much of North Carolina in the winter of 2021 — the last time I had seen them here before that was 1998. Grosbeaks are hard to miss when they finally show up. First, they are rather chunky, boldly patterned birds. And then there’s that bill! The name “grosbeak” comes from the French “gros bec,” which means “large beak.” That huge, conical beak is useful for crushing seeds. They were regular visitors in our yard for well over a month, going through the sunflower seeds like crazy and squabbling with one another.

Be on the lookout for these and other unusual feathered visitors this season in your neighborhood. If you see something you can’t identify, try using the free Merlin Bird ID app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Its photo ID feature is really great if you can get a photo of your mystery bird.

Happy birdwatching!

Clockwise from top: Dark-eyed Junco; male Evening Grosbeak; Hermit Thrush; Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

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Noon to 1:30 pm

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us in celebrating the 100th anniversary of
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Liza Roberts

Renaissance MAN

Bartender Joel Finsel mixes books and bourbon

When you sidle up to a bar to order a beer or cocktail, you probably don’t expect your bartender to have authored two books, have a graduate degree in liberal studies or to be a leading advocate in the movement for historical justice. But if Joel Finsel is behind the bar, then that’s exactly what you get — along with a very good drink.

One crisp day in early fall, I spent an hour or so with Finsel in downtown Wilmington at the Brooklyn Arts Center, a deconsecrated church that was built

in 1888 and passed through the hands of numerous congregations before falling into disrepair. It was saved by a public and private partnership in the late 1990s, and over the past decade has hosted weddings, community events and concerts by musicians like Brandi Carlile and Old Crow Medicine Show. The sprawling complex, which features the event space, a bridal suite, an annex that once served as an old schoolhouse, a courtyard and the Bell Tower Tasting Room, is now a busy hub of art, culture and celebration. It was in the Bell Tower Tasting room where I found Finsel, ready and waiting

to mix up a few cocktails.

As Finsel mixed our first drink — a mulled apple cider — I asked him how he’s been able to build a career as a bartender with one foot in the literary world, another in modern art and another (apparently Finsel has three feet) in bartending. He smiled. “I think I’ve always been attracted to chaos,” he said. That surprised me: Finsel is one of the most measured people I’ve ever met, and to watch him work behind the bar is to witness a seemingly effortless precision.

The steaming-hot apple cider was poured with bourbon and garnished

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 47 CREATORS


The Cat’s Whiskers

Substitute gin and it becomes The Bee’s Knees. Both are Roaring ’20s slang for “the height of excellence.”


1 3/4 ounces favorite bourbon or rye whisky

1 ounce honey syrup (1:1 ratio of hot water to honey)

3 to 4 fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish

1/2 ounce fresh lemon

2 dashes Angostura Bitters (optional)

Splash sparkling water


Chill cocktail coupe and set aside. Combine all of the ingredients over ice and shake for 12 seconds. Discard ice from prechilled coupe. Double strain into coupe (make sure no green flecks of mint end up in anyone’s teeth). Garnish with fresh mint.

Lavender 75

The classic French 75 cocktail was named after a cannon — this places a flower in the barrel instead.


1 1/2 ounces Botany Gin

1/2 ounce fresh lemon

1 ounce lavender syrup (steep dried lavender flowers in hot water, then add sugar, 1:1 ratio)

3 dashes West Indian Orange Bitters

Splash dry Champagne

Splash sparkling mineral water

Dried lavender buds, for garnish


Chill a cocktail coupe and set aside. Combine all of the ingredients over ice and shake for at least 12 seconds. Discard ice from prechilled coupe. Strain the chilled mixture into the coupe. Garnish with 3 to 4 dried lavender buds.

with star anise, lemon and a cinnamon stick stirrer. It tasted like a winter evening, presents wrapped under the tree and the kids blessedly asleep before the chaos of Christmas morning.

I asked Finsel about his childhood growing up in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, a small blue-collar town on the banks of the Lehigh River about an hour and a half northwest of Philadelphia.

“Until I was 5, my family lived in a trailer on a dirt road, 2 miles up along the side of a mountain. It was awesome because there were bears and deer, and you could just pick up rocks and there were orange salamanders everywhere,” he said. “And then my great-grandmother passed away and we moved into her house in town, which changed everything for me. I was suddenly in the middle of a small town and I could walk to high school and there were girls there.”

The abstract expressionist painter Franz Kline also moved to Lehighton in his youth in the second decade of the 20th century. Finsel’s mother had grown up in the area hearing stories about Kline and his work, and her interest led her to become one of the country’s preeminent specialists on Kline. When Finsel was young, his mother began working on a biography of the artist, but it wasn’t until Finsel graduated from college and was teaching school in Philadelphia that he asked for a look at the manuscript.

“I was home for Christmas, and I asked her if I could take a look at it,” he said. “What she had was a huge document of notes, but no structure.” Mother and son began working on the project together, and they would do so for over 20 years before Franz Kline in Coal Country was published in 2019. It was the first biography to examine the artist’s formative years in Pennsylvania, Boston and London before he became one of the founding members of the New York School.

The next cocktail Finsel prepared was the Cat’s Whiskers, a tipple of rye, honey, lemon and bitters that tastes like a party thrown by Jay Gatsby: a jazz band taking the stage, the audience filled with men in smart suits and women in flapper dresses,

snow pounding against the stained-glass windows as the hour tips past midnight.

The book on Kline was not the first book Finsel had published. During a long career as a bartender — one that began in college and would lead to reviews and spots in publications like Bartender Magazine, Cosmopolitan and a profile in Playboy as one of the country’s Top 10 mixologists — Finsel had accumulated countless stories from coworkers and patrons, many of which he recounted in his 2009 book, Cocktails & Conversations, which mixes barroom lore with the histories of mixology and cocktail recipes.

One bar customer who had an enormous influence on Finsel’s life was the abstract expressionist Edward Meneeley, a contemporary and friend of artists like Willem de Kooning and Andy Warhol. Finsel and Meneeley met while Finsel was in college at Kutztown University and working at a bar across the street from Meneeley’s art studio.

“Ed introduced me to mixing things like Campari and soda back in the day when everyone drank Captain and Coke, circa 1998,” Finsel said. “Ed would come into the bar and throw his old copies of The New Yorker at me and tell me I needed to educate myself out of this town, so I got to know the work of the magazine’s art critic Peter Schjeldahl pretty well. I wasn’t even 21 yet.”

The next cocktail Finsel made was the Lavender 75, in which West Indian Orange Bitters combine with gin, lemon, lavender and a splash of Champagne for an incredibly complex and layered taste, both dry and deeply flavorful.

When Finsel and his wife Jess James (who owns a popular vintage clothing boutique in Wilmington) moved to town in 2005, Finsel brought his two main interests south with him: mixology and contemporary art. He took a job as the bartender of Café Phoenix in downtown Wilmington and designed one of the first craft cocktail menus in the city. He also curated the art on the restaurant’s walls, hosting artists like his friend Meneeley and Leon Schenker. Suddenly work by internationally known artists, valued at


tens of thousands of dollars, was hanging where local art had once dominated.

It was after a few years there, where he eventually earned an MA in liberal studies from University of North Carolina Wilmington, that Finsel first learned about the 1898 race massacre, the only successful coup in American history that saw white supremacists murder untold numbers of Black citizens while overthrowing the local government. He was shocked to learn that something so horrible had happened in a city he loved. It galvanized him to cofound Third Person Project, a nonprofit dedicated to uncovering and preserving history. One of the group’s first projects was gathering and digitizing copies of The Daily Record, which was the only newspaper for Black people in North Carolina before it was destroyed during these events.

Since then, the organization has gone on to host musicians like Rhiannon Giddens, who came to Wilmington to per-

form the “Songs of 1898” at a 2018 event with Finsel’s Third Person co-founder, writer John Jeremiah Sullivan. Third Person has gone on to lead Wilmington in efforts to save historic buildings, mark burial places and uncover histories, often by partnering with local institutions like UNC Wilmington’s Equity Institute.

On a smaller scale, Finsel is also contributing to history with his impact on its cocktail scene. The final drink he mixes — the True Blue — is a good example. He created it years ago when he designed the cocktail menu for the Wilmington restaurant True Blue Butcher and Table. The cocktail remains a fixture and, with its mix of pear, elderflower and bubbles, I understand why.

Our interview is over and, as Finsel cleans up behind the bar, he tells me he plans to spend the rest of the afternoon working on an essay about 1898. Cocktails, conversation, curating, correcting history: it’s all in a day’s work.

True Blue

Designed after ancient Greek formulas for the “nectar of the gods.”


1 ounce Grey Goose La Poire vodka

1 ounce St. Elder elderflower liqueur

1/2 ounce fresh lemon

Splash dry Champagne

Splash sparkling mineral water

Blueberries or pear, for garnish


Chill cocktail coupe and set aside. Mix vodka, elderflower liqueur and lemon over ice in a mixing glass. Shake hard for at least 12 seconds. Discard ice from prechilled coupe.

Strain mixture into coupe. Float Champagne and soda. Garnish by dropping in three blueberries or thin slice of pear.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 49

My November Song

On one of the last warm mornings of summer, I was watering shrubs when I heard a heavy thump behind me in the garden. Turning around, I saw only half a dozen birds gathered at the three feeders that hang from our aged maple’s outstretched limbs. I walked over to investigate.

I found a large squirrel crawling desperately on the ground toward one of the young azaleas planted back in the spring. The critter had evidently fallen from one of the high branches and was either dazed or severely injured. As I approached, the squirrel curled up at the base of the plant and burrowed its nose under the shrub’s branches.

My first impulse was to fetch a garden tool and end the poor animal’s suffering. But long ago I made a pact with the universe to cause as little harm as possible to creatures large and small — probably from reading too many transcendental poets and Eastern sages early in life, as well as covering a great deal of murder and social mayhem during the first decade of my journalism career.

To my wife’s amusement (and some-

times horror), I’ve been known to gently escort spiders and captured houseflies to the door, return snakes to the wild and even grant the odd mosquito a reprieve to live and bother someone else another day.

Not counting the untold number of innocent garden plants I’ve inadvertently offed due to general ignorance or untimely negligence, I’ve generally abided by the naturalist maxim that it’s best to let nature take care of her own. So for this reason I went back to watering the shrubs for a spell, hoping the fallen fellow was merely stunned.

Our little patch of paradise is a remarkably peaceful kingdom. Dozens of birds dine from our feeders, which offer a perpetual challenge to the squirrels that inhabit the forest of trees around us.

Over the years, the squirrels have displayed impressive acrobatic skills and inventive ways to get at those feeders,

prompting me to constantly come up with strategies to thwart their efforts. It’s kind of a fun game we play. Fortunately for them, the birds are absurdly sloppy eaters, accounting for considerable spillage on the ground that keeps both squirrels and rabbits well fed.

When I walked back to check on the fallen squirrel, he was lying right where I left him, perfectly still. He was dead.

I picked him up to look him over. He was an older fellow, bearing scars, nicked up by life. Perhaps he’d simply lost his grip or just let go. It was impossible to know. In any case, it seemed only fitting to bury him on the spot where he lived out his final moments on this earth — underneath the young azalea.

It was my second death of the week.

Two days before, on a beautiful, rainy morning, we decided to put our beloved dog, Mulligan, to sleep.

A prayer for the lives that touch us... and those that await beyond
illustration GERRY O’NEILL
I’ve been known to gently escort spiders and captured houseflies to the door, return snakes to the wild and even grant the odd mosquito a reprieve.

Mully, as I call her, found me 17 years ago, a wild black pup running free just above the South Carolina state line, literally jumping into my arms as if she’d been waiting for me to come along. She was my faithful traveling companion for almost two decades.

Three days before we lost her, Mully made the daily mile-long early morning walk we’ve strolled together for over a decade. Never sick a day in her life, it was the rear legs of this gentle, soulful, brown-eyed border collie I called my “God Dog” that finally gave out. After our walk, she hobbled painfully around the garden and settled at my feet at the bench where we sat together most evenings. Her upward gaze told me it was time for her to go.

It was the hardest — but right — thing to do.

The idea of the afterlife for all God’s creatures — especially dogs — has fascinated me since I was a little kid. One of my first memories comes from a late autumn evening in 1958, when my mother and I were walking the empty beach at low tide near our cottage in Gulfport, Mississippi. We were looking for interesting seashells washed up on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, where November storms famously coughed up a bounty. It was my first lesson in immortality.

Our dog, Amber, had just died of old age. I was sad to think I would never see her again. I wondered aloud what happens when dogs and people died.

My mom picked up a perfect scalloped shell, pure alabaster white, and handed it to me.

“Tell me what you see in that shell,” she said.

“Nothing,” I said. “It’s empty.”

She explained it had once been the beautiful home of a living creature that no longer needed it, leaving its protective shell behind for us to find.

“Where did it go?” I demanded.

“Wherever sea creatures go after this life.”

“Do you mean heaven?”

She nodded and smiled. I’ve never

forgotten her words: “That’s where your dreams come true, buddy.”

“Same with Amber?”

“Same with Amber.”

A few years later, a marvelous woman named Miss Jesse came to help heal my mom after a terrible, late-term miscarriage. I often pestered Miss Jesse in the kitchen or when she took me along to the Piggly Wiggly. One evening I asked her why all living things had to die. She was rolling out dough and making biscuits at the time.

Her rolling pin kept working. “Let me ask you something, child,” she said. “Do you remember a time when you weren’t alive?”

I could not.

“That’s because you ain’t never not been alive, baby. Nothin’ you love dies. It just passes on to a new life — just like the trees in spring.”

Half a century later, I heard the voices of both my mother and Miss Jesse in a powerful song called “Take It With Me” by songwriter extraordinaire Tom Waits.

I played it the day Mully left me. I’ll play it again when I spread her ashes in the garden she helped me create.

I play it, in fact, every year when the leaves begin to fall. It’s my November song. A few of the lyrics:

There ain’t no good thing ever dies

I’m gonna take it with me when I go…

The children are playing at the end of the day

Strangers are singing on our lawn

There’s got to be more than flesh and bone

All that you’ve loved is all you own.

Due to summer’s extremely dry conditions in our small corner of paradise, the leaves fell early this year.

By the time we give thanks for this year’s tender mercies, missing friends, beloved traveling companions and even the fallen squirrels that have graced our lives with their presence, they may all be safely gathered up to wait for us.

Somewhere where dreams come true.

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Family STYLE

A Thanksgiving vacation to remember


e’ll be going to Disney for Thanksgiving,” my father announced in my last year of high school. It seemed like he wanted to maximize our time before I departed for college — one last Bailey family adventure.

It later occurred to me that he was also avoiding his in-laws for their annual visit, and that, if we’re being honest, he’s never cared for turkey or the tradition. Whatever his reasons for going, I objected because I had plans.

The plans themselves were a little hazy. Maybe my friends and I would go to the State game and gawk at the fraternity boys. Maybe we’d go to Crabtree and try perfume samples at Belk and eat in the food court. Or maybe we’d be in Marty’s basement practicing our “Thriller” dance. Either way, I definitely did not want to go. Not only would I be missing out, I’d be stuck in Hell: an amusement park with my family.

To be clear, Disney World had been at the top of my list in my younger days. Holidays would roll by and my vacationing Joyner classmates would return with their Mickey ears and matching autograph books, with tales of ginormous waterslides and volcanoes and princesses at every turn. The Magic Kingdom was a city paved in gold, but Dad was unimpressed: “They’re too young, they won’t remember the trip. It’s a better investment to go when your kids will actually remember it.” And we moved on — or so I thought.

My mom and sister were gung-ho for the Thanksgiving adventure. My younger sister, always the favorite anyway, was glad for yet another opportunity to prove she was a team player. (Faker.) And my mother, who’d never been to Disney World, said she’d always wanted to take the “It’s a Small World” ride. Plus, she could avoid both visiting family and polishing silver. So it was settled.

These being the last days of my tenure at home, Dad had a few life skills he was anxious to impart on me. Namely,

“W“character-building” and “appreciating the value of a dollar” — both of which he used in booking our travel. (While my father does appreciate the finer things, everyone knows that character can only be built in discomfort.) I also suspect he waited until the very last minute to book the trip, so there weren’t many options.

Oh my, the unending lines at the airport. It seemed we weren’t the only family in search of Thanksgiving magic. We squeezed into our four tiny seats in the way back of a Midway Airlines flight and then we were off.

Once we landed, the rental car agency was a 45-minute drive from the airport — and the hotel was an hour in the other direction. We’d apparently booked the last room, one with a double bed for our parents and a pullout sofa for my sister and me. (She got some serious elbow jabbing as soon as the lights went out later that night in retribution for her part in all this.)

After a night of sofabed wrestling muffled by a grating, barely functional window A/C unit, we headed for the fabled Magic Kingdom. As we parked in the overflow lot in the next county, we were overcome by the sheer number of people. There were lines everywhere: for parking, for trams, for tickets, for rides, for top-dollar food. We had to stay focused. Stop #1: It’s a Small World. The line was around the block and consisted of ancient people, very young children… and me. My sister was happy as a clam in her new Mickey Mouse ears, purchased with her saved allowance. (Goody-goody.)

By departure time, three days later, we were not speaking. Or, rather, the rest of them were talking to each other, but I was not. On our way back to the airport, we stopped at Waffle House for breakfast. I opted to read my book in the car — until overcome by heat, hunger or boredom, I finally joined them. Dad, who’d barely glanced at me for days, asked me to hand

over the keys, which, it turns out, I had locked in the car.

We called the rental car agency, but they didn’t have a second set of keys. We were speechless. My mother started to pray out loud. (Was she praying for a flight delay or my life, I wonder?) Suddenly a good Samaritan emerged from the Waffle House with a wire coat hanger. The car was unlocked in minutes, but we still missed our flight.

At the airport, the gate agent informed us it would be three days until we could get a confirmed flight home. We were welcome to try to go standby, she said, but with two minors who couldn’t fly unaccompanied, it might be a fruitless wait. It was, after all, the most traveled day of the year. No one wanted to go back to the hotel. No one wanted to go back to the park. How could this have happened?

It seemed like the right time for me to point out to Dad that this is what happens when you rent from the cheapest car rental place. (As someone who’s now a mother of three young adults, I shudder to recall that I said this.) For Dad’s part, there were no words. My sister discreetly vanished in her Mickey Mouse ears. Mom started to pray out loud, again.

We waited through seven outbound flights, moving from gate to gate, watching Midway load and unload passengers, all of us now praying for four measly seats. Eight hours later we were ushered onto the plane — and the last four seats were in first class! And, almost as important, they were not together! My mother and sister were seated next to each other (of course). My father got a window seat, and immediately ordered a (free!) mimosa. And I was front row center, kicked back with my Walkman, Seventeen magazine and a Coke enjoying some alone time.

In high spirits from this happy ending I finally agreed with Dad: visiting Disney as an older child was certainly more memorable.

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For Dad’s part, there were no words. My sister discreetly vanished in her Mickey Mouse ears. Mom started to pray out loud, again.

Frances Mayes’ Favorite Things

...and how she found home in North Carolina

Frances Mayes has traveled the globe, but now calls Hillsborough home. The New York Times best selling author’s books have long been rooted in her love affair with Italy, but her latest one, A Place in the World, is an homage to the many places she’s called home. One of those places is the Chatwood estate where she and her husband lived for years before recently downsizing. We spoke with Mayes to learn about her sense of place, most meaningful objects and deep connection to North Carolina.


During the Covid lockdowns, my husband Ed and I decided to leave what we had thought of as our permanent home. I think those months caused a lot of people to look closely at their lives and goals

and home, and to reevaluate the future. We can get awfully attuned to routine and the crisis shook up expectations. For me, a born traveler, I felt so trapped. My writing is often tied to travel and that was impossible. We thought our sense of confinement was an individual response but later, of course, we realized we were just part of a national trend and we had contributed to the housing craze that shot up demand and prices all over. I began to think about the question of what’s home, and to realize that as much as I have written about travel, I have an equal obsession with the four walls of home. The pandemic compelled me to write about roots and wings.


Having left the idyllic farm, we are now nicely settled in a house that leaves us free to roam. Two writers need studies and this young house (it’s only fifteen

years old) has plenty of space for tons of books, along with excellent light from big windows and a kitchen that works well for two cooks. On the farm, we were happily isolated but now we enjoy being close to people, sidewalks and shopping. I will always miss the house on the river but this was a good move for us, even if it was on a whim. Our place in Tuscany [Villa Bramasole in Cortona, which inpired the novel Under the Tuscan Sun] could not be more unalike. It is nearly 400 years old and has been home for thirty years now. It’s perched on a hillside amid olive trees and I always think it looks at home in the landscape.


I’m not sure I can count that high! Fifteen? Oddly, I think of many other places where I felt at home, even if I was there for only a week. There’s a chapter, Momentary Homes, on that subject in

as told to ADDIE LADNER Frances Mayes with her husband Ed in Cortona.

my new book — how mysterious it is to find yourself so settled and comfortable in a place you are literally passing through.


I cart around storage boxes of letters from friends — from back when people wrote real letters — and childhood scrapbooks and photographs. Books, books, books! And the silverware that Southern girls of my generation began collecting in high school.


Walking the neighborhoods in strange towns, I love the banging pot lids, clink of cutlery and the aromas of dinner cooking that waft from open windows, that wonderful moment of dinner being served. At night, the lighted windows, music playing, those quick glimpses of how people live in other places. Those are homey images, but I love as much the excitement of looking out over the rooftops of Fez, the full moon lifting out of the sea in Santorini, the lights in the canals in Amsterdam — those sights that are utterly foreign but create a feeling of being at home in the world.


We decided to leave California, another seeming whim, and I wanted to move back to the South where I grew up. From college in Virginia, I used to come down to UNC for parties. Later, we had good friends in Chapel Hill and had visited many times. Then I started working on a line of Tuscan-style furniture in High Point and was traveling to North Carolina frequently. We were attracted to the progressive atmosphere and the good airport and the town of Hillsborough in particular. There’s a sense of community there that reminded me of my early home. I always felt at home in the South and we just eased right in here. About that “seeming whim,” I’ve learned to pay attention to those whims. They come from deep instincts.

At the end of my new book, I discover a deeper reason that I was attracted to North Carolina, a hidden family taproot that reaches way down.


What a nightmare that would be! I’d grab my old diaries and travel journals, photographs (I should scan them!), my Prada coat, chef’s knives, a portrait of my grandson and autographed copies of favorite books.


The dining room of my house in Tuscany. We have a fresco of the local landscape on the wall and an antique

oval table that seats ten. We have had so many festive and convivial dinners there! It’s special and full of memories. Here, I love the living room best because it has a wall of windows where the light pours in. Second would be my study, one of those huge rooms over the garage where there’s room for three desks. Who needs three? In the middle of a cookbook, travel book or novel, it’s a great thing to have room to spread out my papers so I can organize.

On November 9, WALTER will present At Home with Frances Mayes, an evening of food, wine and conversation about her travels. Learn more at waltermagazine. com/francesmayes.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 55
clockwise from top left: bloodroot flowers; Round-lobed Hepatica; windflower; trout lily Clockwise from top left: A view from Mayes’ home in Tuscany; dining with friends; her former North Carolina home; inside her writing studio at Tuscany.
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We were birds then at thirteen, a chime of wrens chirping, carbonated goddesses blowing bubbles, spilling secrets, dancing the latest dances, we did each others’ hair, practiced kissing, gossiped (a girl’s first step toward insight), we shook the magic eight ball, could not imagine a path toward our future —

we only knew we didn’t want our mothers’ lives, taking dictation, cleaning up messes, hiding tins of money, we were angels falling, wingless, trusting the wind to lift our bodies of light far above the silver water tower, to let us down kindly somewhere, anywhere wild and broad and new.

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For Thanksgiving, Oscar Diaz creates a delicious fusion of traditional recipes


Oscar Diaz is turning Thanksgiving as we know it upside down. The James Beard-nominated executive chef of Cortez has been cooking up fresh, flavor-packed seafood on Glenwood Avenue for five years. And much like his popular restaurant, his Thanksgiving menu riffs on a collection of traditions

and influences from his family, neighbors and travels.

Diaz grew up in Chicago with his brother and his parents, who were both born in Mexico and moved to the United States as teenagers. “Thanksgiving was one of those holidays we always celebrated, but it wasn’t traditional,” says Diaz. “It wasn’t in my mom’s repertoire of cooking.” For the Diaz family, celebratory meals included things like pozole, mole

and tamales — dishes that were just as time-consuming as a roast turkey and all the fixings, but with a totally different flavor profile.

So when someone would drop off a turkey to the house as a holiday gift, it was a family task to figure out how to make use of the large bird, he says. “You can break down a turkey and make 10 dishes; they’re fantastic, creative and not repetitive,” says Diaz. Instead of roasting the whole

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turkey and bringing it out on a platter, they’d break it apart and shred it to fill tacos or tamales, or roast the turkey breast to serve with Mexican sides like salsa and guacamole. “We made our own version of a Thanksgiving feast,” says Diaz. “It was more about gathering — sitting down and having a nice meal together.”

Over the decades, Diaz and his family picked up new traditions from friends and neighbors from all walks of life, but always maintained an infusion of Mexican traditions in the mix, resulting in a delicious melting pot of flavors and cultures. “I didn’t cook back then, but I ate very well,” says Diaz. And as he got older, he started to get more excited about playing around in the kitchen and brought that same spirit of experimentation to both his professional cooking and the way he en-

tertains at home. In 2011, Diaz moved to Raleigh to work with the Ibarra family on Jose and Sons, and over time he became executive chef at Cortez.

These days, every Thanksgiving is always a little different. “The only tradition is to get together with friends — I always make sure to gather a bunch of people who aren’t near family,” Diaz says. Often, his communal celebrations include staff from Cortez and folks in the industry, true appreciators of cuisine who challenge Diaz to flex his creative muscles in the kitchen. “It might not be practical, but I’ve made things like pizza, duck and carne asada for Thanksgiving,” he laughs.

While the menu is different every year, it always fuses Mexican traditions with new inventions. Creamy, rich guacamole becomes decadent and celebratory with

crab meat. He’ll turn the turkey into a hearty pozole with salsa verde, paired with cornbread that’s infused with poblano peppers. And, of course, there are his own Thanksgiving traditions garnered over the years, like his guava and goat cheese empanadas. “A family in our neighborhood would come over and bring crackers and cream cheese topped with guava paste,” says Diaz. “We all loved it, and eventually, it was added into the lexicon of what the Diaz household is.”

His Thanksgiving menu may be unexpected for many — but it’s also exactly what Diaz thinks a “traditional American dinner” should look like. “I’m always trying to explain that food and tradition can change,” he says. “They’re always growing and evolving.”

Above left: Oysters on the grill. Above right: Oscar Diaz makes guava and goat cheese empanadas. Opposite page: Turkey pozole on the stovetop.

“We made our own version of a Thanksgiving feast. It was more about gathering — sitting down and having a nice meal together.” — Oscar Diaz

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Char-grilled Oysters on the Half-Shell


5 strips of bacon

10 garlic cloves, minced ½ stick butter

¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated 1 cup panko bread crumbs

12 fresh raw oysters

1 jalapeño, diced


Cook bacon in a pan until crispy. Remove and set aside. Add half of the minced garlic to the rendered bacon fat and cook until fragrant and golden. Add butter, then remove from heat and reserve.

Toss the panko with the parmesan. Once the bacon is cool, finely chop.

Shuck the oysters and place the half-shell with the oyster on a grate that can be placed over a hot grill. Crumble bacon, diced jalapeño and reserved garlic into each shell, then top with the panko-parmesan mixture. Place the grate on a hot grill and spoon some of the melted garlic butter over it; you’ll get a little flare from the grill. Grill for three to 10 minutes, depending on the size, until you see the oyster juices bubbling. Remove and serve.


Crab Guacamole


5 ripe avocados

3 serrano peppers

3 ripe Roma tomatoes

½ small white onion

1 bunch cilantro


Salt to taste

8 ounces jumbo lump crab

Radish, for garnish

Tortilla chips


Core and peel avocados and smash or cube them into a bowl. Reserve a few sprigs of cilantro, then finely dice the other vegetables and mix them into the bowl. Squeeze in lime juice to taste.

Pick over the crab to make sure there are no stray pieces of shell, then gently fold into guacamole. Garnish with sliced radish and cilantro leaves. Serve with chips as a snack. The crab can also be left out, if you prefer plain guacamole.

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Poblano Cornbread


4 poblano peppers

1 cup butter

20 ounces buttermilk

5 whole eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

2 cups yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup queso cotija

¼ cup queso fresco

Sour cream


Roast poblano peppers over a fire until the skins are blistered (if a fire is not available, broil for about a minute on each side). Once blistered, remove from fire and cover loosely with foil; let sweat for about 10 minutes so that the skins loosen up.

Peel the poblanos’ skin off, remove the seeds, and cut into strips. Add the poblano strips to the pan with the onions and season with a little salt.

Combine buttermilk and butter in a pan and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, pour the mixture into a bowl and add the eggs. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking soda and cotija cheese. Pour the buttermilk-butter-egg mixture over the dry ingredients and mix.

Place a large cast iron skillet into the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Pull the skillet out, lightly grease it, then add the batter; top with crumbled queso fresco.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Brush with melted butter and serve with a dollop of sour cream.


Pozole Verde de Pavo


Turkey Stock (recipe online)

21 ounces hominy

2 to 4 cups cooked shredded turkey, to taste Salsa Verde (recipe below)

For garnish: Tostadas, shredded cabbage, chili flakes, limes, oregano, sliced radish, cilantro


In a large pot, bring the turkey stock to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Add in the Salsa Verde and simmer for 20 minutes, then add in shredded turkey and let simmer for an additional 20 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt.

Serve with tostadas, shredded cabbage, chili flakes, limes, oregano, radishes and cilantro on the side.

Salsa Verde


17 ounces of tomatillo (roughly 10 medium tomatillos)

3 jalapeños

3 poblano peppers

5 ounces pepitas

12 garlic cloves

12 scallions

2 bunches cilantro

1 bunch parsley (flat or curly)

1 ½ cups spinach, packed

½ cup of epazote leaves (find at a Latin market)

½ teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of oregano

3 whole allspice berries


Put tomatillos and jalapeños in a pot with water and simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Pay attention: when the tomatillos go from light to dark green, cut the heat and remove them so that they don’t pop in the water. Char the poblano peppers in a pan; remove from heat and cover loosely with foil to sweat for about 10 minutes.

Dry-toast the pumpkin seeds in a pan over medium heat until they become fragrant; remove and reserve. Lightly dry-toast all the spices together.

Add tomatillos, jalapeños, peppers, pumpkin seeds and spices to the blender and combine using a little stock to thin.

Heat a pot to medium-high, add some oil to coat bottom, then pour salsa verde in pot and lower heat to medium. Stir occasionally to avoid scorching the sauce. Cook until thickened, about 20 minutes.

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Turkey Tamales


About 2 pounds shredded cooked turkey

6 guajillo chiles

3 pasilla chiles (find at a Latin market)

2 ancho chiles

10 garlic cloves

½ red onion

5 Roma tomatoes

½ teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon cumin

2 cloves

2 allspice

Salt to taste

2 cups turkey stock, if necessary

12 corn husks, soaked in water

Masa (recipe online)


Char the Roma tomatoes in a hot pan, then add to a pot and simmer in water until softened all the way through. While the tomatoes are simmering, toast all the chiles lightly in a medium heat pan; press down on them lightly so that the oils are released and they are fragrant. Do not overtoast as this will create a bitter taste. Once toasted, add the chiles to the pot with the tomatoes and simmer until softened as well.

Lightly toast the garlic; reserve. Dry-toast all the spices in a pan for about a minute and reserve with the garlic. Then put the reserved spices and garlic in a blender with the tomato-chile mixture and blend, adding turkey stock for moisture if necessary. The sauce should have a thick consistency that can coat the back of a spoon. Once blended, strain sauce through a fine strainer. Heat a pot to medium-high, add a little oil to just coat the pan and add in sauce (caution: it will bubble a bit). Turn heat down and let simmer for 10 minutes while stirring on and off. Add in shredded turkey and simmer until the sauce and turkey have almost become one ingredient. You want the mix to be tight so that the tamale will be easier to assemble. If it is too saucy, add more turkey or cook down to reduce the sauce. Once consistency is reached, adjust salt.

To assemble the tamales: Open up the pre-soaked husks. Spoon in the masa and spread it very thinly across the inside of the corn husk, ¾ of the way up the husk to the narrow end. Spoon turkey mole into the center of the masa then fold one side over the filling, then the other; finish by folding up the narrow end. Repeat until masa or mole have finished.

Place all the tamales in a steamer and steam for one hour. Once ready, tamales should easily come off the corn husk and the masa should be cooked all the way through, with no raw taste. Check before you take them out; if one’s not ready, leave on longer and check every 30 minutes.

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Guava and Goat Cheese Empanadas


8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature

Pinch of salt

½ cup heavy cream

8 ounces guava paste

1 whole egg

1 box puff pastry sheets, room temperature

1 cup sugar

Maldon sea salt


In a stand mixer, add in the goat cheese and a pinch of salt. Begin to whip, and once the cheese is whipped, add in 2/3 of the heavy cream (reserve the rest for later). Keep mixing and add in the powdered sugar. Once fully incorporated, put the mixture in a piping bag or in a Ziploc bag with the edge cut off for piping.

Next, cut thin strips of guava paste; reserve on a plate. Beat together the remaining heavy cream with one egg until fully incorporated as an egg wash.

Working quickly, cut circles in the puff pastry with a 5-inch ring mold. Pipe the goat cheese mixture into the center of a pastry circle and add a strip or two of guava paste. Brush the inside edges of the pastry with egg wash and then fold over in half so that the edges meet. Pinch the edges together with a fork to seal them. Repeat to use all the pastry and filling. (Note: If not immediately baking, cover the raw empanadas with a damp paper towel to prevent drying.)

Brush remaining egg wash over the filled pastries and sprinkle a little rock sugar and Maldon sea salt on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

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25 Triangle organizations to consider supporting this season



Gathering, feasting, cheering on your team: November is a time when tradition reigns. And one of those traditions is often based in gratitude, taking a pause to reflect on what we’ve been given and how we can give back in return.

This November, we’re highlighting 25 Triangle organizations that are building resilience in our region. Whether they care for the vulnerable, pursue equity, nurture community or inspire creativity, your time, in-kind donations or money can help make their missions a reality.

This list is by no means comprehensive — our community is bursting with organizations that deserve our support. But as you feel moved during the holiday season, we hope you will give generously to the nonprofits supporting this region we love.

Photos courtesy of organizations. Left to right: Raleigh Music Collective, ComMotion, The Gilbert Scholarship. S.P. Murray (PUPPIES)


Headquartered in Raleigh, Becoming rentABLE allows people with disabilities around the world to find short-term vacation rental properties that meet their needs. Says founder and executive director Lorraine Woodward: “We should all have the opportunity to travel with our family or attend a work function, college reunion, funeral or wedding. Regardless of ability, we should all have the chance to live our best lives.”


Black Box Dance Theatre creates and performs nonfiction modern dance and offers movement workshops to people of all ages and abilities. Their performances call on unexpected collaborators — including active duty military, the USO and the National Science Foundation — to make dance a catalyst for human interaction and powerful storytelling.



Called to Peace Ministries offers faith-based advocacy, support groups and practical assistance to victims of domestic abuse both locally and across the nation. Through their church partnership program, they provide support for victims and education to church leaders who hope to respond more effectively and empathetically to this complex issue in their congregations.



Children’s Flight of Hope believes that distance and the cost of travel should never prevent a child from receiving critical medical care. CFOH flies children and guardians to specialized medical care for the duration of their health-care journey, no matter the number of flights.


ComMotion builds community and improves well-being through adaptive and inclusive movement programs for people of all ages and abilities, including cancer survivors, military veterans, seniors and kids. “It’s amazing to see the power of movement and music,” says executive director Robin McCall. “It can bring a smile to the face of a veteran battling PTSD and allow a person with dementia to sing when they can no longer speak.”

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 71
All images courtesy the organizations.


Empower All, Inc. provides culturally affirming, identity-centered STEAM education in classrooms with the goal of increasing the number of BIPOC youth in STEAM fields. Says founder Valencia Hicks-Harris: “We want to eradicate barriers and stigma, offer access to a holistic education, and empower all students to access their inner genius.”




The Fellowship Home of Raleigh is a pair of community homes for people in the early days of substance abuse recovery. In the Boylan Heights mens’ house and the North Raleigh womens’ house, residents work, pay rent, do chores and attend regular recovery meetings. The Fellowship Home provides three meals a day and abundant emotional and logistical support, with the goal of returning residents to the community as sober, responsible citizens.



Remember the awe you felt watching a chrysalis hatch? The wonder at a mountainscape when you learned about its history? For those memories, you can thank an environmental educator. Environmental Educators of NC supports these teachers of all stripes by building connections, providing professional development and promoting excellence in environmental education. “We help the teachers working to inspire a more just and sustainable world,” says executive director Lauren Pyle. 8

For some, being a dad can feel overwhelming and lonely. Fathers Forever meets dads where they are, offering support, parenting education and encouragement. In its 12-week, hands-on parent-mentoring course, participants practice communicating with their kids and learning how to manage the responsibilities of fatherhood, so they can stay involved as positive role models.


matches unwanted dogs and puppies with volunteer foster homes, where the animals learn to trust and love until they find their forever adoptive family. “There is a magical transformation from a frightened dog into a happy, playful pet that wants to please,” says founder Mollie Doll. “That is why we rescue!”

All images courtesy the organizations. S.P. Murray (PUPPIES)


Haven House Services operates 10 youth programs, including Wrenn House, the Triangle’s only emergency shelter for youth ages 10 to 17 experiencing homelessness or crisis. After serving the community for nearly 50 years, Haven House has its first-ever permanent home. Support its new agency headquarters, which offers more space for Triangle youth to be safe, supported and successful.


Gilbert Scholarship, Inc. helps fund college for young adults from foster care at a time in their journey when they often lose support and stability. The scholarship was created by Darlena Moore, a former foster youth who aged out of the system, in honor of her own foster parents.



Nearly 15% of local college students experienced homelessness during the pandemic — a problem that will likely worsen as costs of living and tuition increase and affordable housing in Wake County decreases. HOST, short for Housing Options for Students Today, matches college students who need short-term housing with vetted hosts who provide a safe, private, affirming space in their home.


The Great Raleigh Cleanup is on a mission to ensure that everyone can live in a litter-free neighborhood. Once a week, residents organize on MeetUp and gather to clean up trash at a specific site around the city. Their goal? Leave the space 100% better than they found it. They occasionally organize kid-friendly Greenway events, too, so the whole family can help.



By offering free, in-person coding education and job training, Justice Redeemed helps women and minorities obtain tech industry jobs, creating pathways to increased income and stability. Participants get a monthly stipend during the six-month course and a computer when they finish. Says executive director Dax Palmer, “It’s a way to say to participants, We value you. We see what you can bring to the community.”

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The Kramden Institute began with a father and his 13-year-old son working together to refurbish computers for deserving families. Their work has since grown to include wider hardware donations, adult computer classes, STEM after-school classes and computer camps. They may also be a good landing spot for your old equipment. “We continue to need corporate and household computer donations, no matter how old, working or not,” says Cyndy Yu-Robinson, Kramden’s executive director.


Inequitable early childhood education can funnel students into a lifetime of tough experiences in school. Learning Together, a “super-inclusive developmental day center” in downtown Raleigh, directly addresses inequities around race, socioeconomic status and abilities. By welcoming a deliberately diverse group of kids with and without developmental delays, they hope to inspire lifelong learning based on empathy and creativity.


Jobs in agriculture are some of the most dangerous in America — but The North Carolina Agromedicine Institute wants to change that. This collaboration between three UNC system schools promotes overall health and job safety for farmers, fishermen, foresters and their families. With research-based counsel, on-the-job training and programs like the “Farmer to Farmer” peer mental health line, they support the folks who nourish our state.


Pardoned by Christ Ministries was founded by a Raleigh man who found religion to be his path forward after incarceration. Now the organization helps restore the lives of people affected by incarceration and offers men a positive path back to the community. Your contribution funds faith-based support, including transitional housing, life skills training, transportation and employment assistance.


Want an easy way to help relieve hunger in the Triangle? Simply bag up nonperishable food items and leave them on your porch on your designated pick-up day; PORCH takes care of the rest. They collect food donations from Raleigh residents and distribute them to community and school food pantries, filling the gaps in our current hunger relief systems.

All images courtesy the organizations.


The Triangle Pride Band aims to strengthen the community through sharing a love of music and promoting social equity, arts education and queer visibility. Their symphonic concert band, marching pep band and color guard perform across the Triangle at events and concert venues. “We’re simply here to have fun, be proud and make music!” says Andrew Pridgen, trombonist and Pride Band tech director.


With its belief in social change through music education, the Raleigh Music Collective offers children of diverse backgrounds music lessons and classes, camps and chamber ensembles. They collaborate with Refugee Hope Partners to offer free violin, viola and cello classes to at-risk refugee students and have expanded free music education to families in South Raleigh at Peach Road Community Center.



From its Raleigh headquarters, Rise Against Hunger works to end hunger in communities worldwide. “Rise Against Hunger’s work starts with a meal, and it starts with people in North Carolina helping to make an impact across the nation and the globe,” says senior public relations specialist Hannah Payne. Their meal-packaging program mobilizes volunteers, and the meals are then distributed to people around the world. Last year they were able to impact more than 2.7 million lives.


As the county’s only open-admission animal shelter, the Wake County Animal Center takes in all stray, abandoned and surrendered pets — no questions asked. Together with community partners, they treat and rehome thousands of homeless animals every year, making them unsung heroes for both furry and human Wake County residents. animal-services


Welcome House Raleigh is a five-bedroom, three-bathroom guest house in Raleigh where refugee families can feel safe and loved as they acclimate to a new life and look for permanent housing. Volunteers clean and prepare the house, stock the kitchen with culturally appropriate groceries and provide counsel and friendship.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 75 25

Vines Architecture delivers real meaning to public buildings


The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 77

Architecture in the public realm — buildings like libraries, museums and student centers — are pillars of a democratic society. And the architects who work in this realm are a breed apart. They create spaces where people can gather, places that are destinations for learning and study — buildings with the power to influence how we think.

Victor Vines and Bob Thomas are two such architects. They are the brains behind buildings like the Durham County Main Library, the new student center at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and Durham’s Emily K Center. “It’s idea-driven work that we’re nurturing in the public realm,” Thomas says.

Vines started a firm under his own name in 2008. Previously, he’d worked for The Freelon Group under the late Phil Freelon, best known as the architect of record for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. Vines led the programming effort for that museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

After starting on his own, Vines soon began collaborating on designs with Bob Thomas — also a former Freelon employee — while Thomas was a principal at the modernist firm of Hobgood Architects in Raleigh.

“My hands were full establishing and creating a firm, and I don’t believe one person can do all that,” Vines says. “There was a closeness and a trust between the two firms as we collaborated together, and this was a way to bring on a key partner as a design director.”

Together they entered a public competition to design the Atlanta History Center. “We didn’t win, but we had a really good showing,” Thomas says.

They continued to collaborate, next on

a competition to design a student center at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. Their design project won this time. Shortly afterward, in 2010, Thomas left Hobgood Architects and joined Vines full time.

Today, Thomas is principal and director of design for the 17-person firm, while Vines serves as president and principal. “As design principal, I’m doing the conceptualizing and drawing, but someone else is doing the detailing,” Thomas says. He notes that 80% of their designers are graduates of North Carolina State University’s College of Design. “That’s the legacy of modernism, the College of Design and [professor emeritus] Roger Clark: Strong ideas are manifested in a rigorous commitment to detailing,” says Thomas.

For the A&T student center, their client originally envisioned a building capped with a rotunda. Instead, the modernists at Vines Architecture steered them toward a near-transparent, double-Ushaped structure that serves as connective tissue between two quadrangles on campus. “It’s knitting together the two greens, with a brick base that’s anchored to the agricultural roots of the university,” Thomas says. “The upper level is a delicate, lightweight, perforated space.”

The project, completed in 2017, put the firm on the map by demonstrating that Vines Architecture could conceive and execute a 150,000-square foot educational facility. Rated LEED Silver, it won an

award from the North Carolina State Department of Construction. “We were recognized for its design, and that it embodies the idea of a complete piece of architecture — with rigor,” Thomas says.

When Vines Architecture designed the Durham County Main Library, which opened in 2021, the firm emphasized its commitment to building for everyone, rather than a select few. “It’s a place where everyone can go and feel very proud to experience it,” says Thomas.

The library facade is clad in a fabricated plane of corrugated sheet metal. “It was a low-tech means to form it with an irregular pattern, using the vertical grain of the metal panel,” says Thomas. The concept was in part a response to a librarian they met during the design process who wanted the exterior to reference the books inside. “The vertical patterns of the sheet metal references the profile of books on the shelves, with their irregular spines,” he says.

Inside, Vines interior designer Kaitlan Phelps worked to create a public space that can stand the test of time without feeling institutional. A grand stairway made of warm wood connects its 91,000 square feet on three levels. “We used tile, wood and carpet and looked at the use of patterns, colors and blocking,” Phelps says. “There’s a porcelain tile with a wood-like texture to it, and the stairs carry the wood all the way through.”

For an addition to the Emily K Center — a nonprofit in Durham founded by Michael “Coach K” Krzyzewski in his mother’s name that serves students from

“In their work, there’s clearly a passion to work with the community. We didn’t feel like an add-on or nonprofit client, but a focal point for them.”
— Lauren Gardner
All images courtesy Vines Architecture Above: The Durham County Main Library.
The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 79
Left: Victor Vines (left) and Robert Thomas inside the library. Previous page: The exterior of the building.

elementary school through college — the architects relied again on corrugated sheet metal for the exterior skin. Inside, though, they paid attention to the center’s role of preparing students for college.

“In our first meetings, even with minimum information, they walked in with some great ideas to make the space better,” says Lauren Gardner, the center’s chief operating officer. “They connected with families and conducted focus groups with students, which they ran throughout the process.”

The architects attended the center’s Career Appreciation Night and camped out on site to walk the building and talk to students and staff. Then they defined problems like a lack of meeting space for students and parents; they built meeting rooms, advising rooms and other nooks and crannies for gathering into the addition. “In their work, there’s clearly a passion to work with the community,” Gardner says. “We didn’t feel like an add-on or nonprofit client, but a focal point for them.”

The 7,500-square-foot addition doubled the center’s usable space, running around

the back and side of its existing building. The architects added a corridor and two floors, then brought in tables and chairs for students to test out. “This was to be more the high school and college wing,” she says.

Two future projects in the public realm will hone the firm’s keen interpretive skills. One is the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center in Fayetteville. It’s on the site of a former United States Armory, which was obliterated by Gen. William T. Sherman in March 1865 after the Confederacy had taken it over.

The museum will be driven by thoughtful storytelling about race, war and postwar efforts. “This is a group of scholars and professionals who want a full, complete and honest recounting of the Civil War and Reconstruction,” says David Winslow, president of the center’s foundation. He enlisted Vines Architecture after being impressed by their work in academic spaces and on the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro.

Before hiring Vines, Winslow brought

Conceptual drawings by Vines Architecture for the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center in Fayetteville, which includes the challenge of connecting a site divided by a highway.
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Above: The Atlanta History Center. Bottom left: The student center at North Carolina A&T State University.
Bottom right: Vines and Thomas with members of the Lacks family.

in an interpretive design team so that he could be clear about what he wanted from his architects in terms of programming. “We presented Victor with the program and requirements and gave him free rein after that,” he says. “The building should be about the program.”

Vines Architecture has already restored three historic structures on site, converting them to education centers, with one now serving as a state-of-the-art television studio. “Two had been tucked away and neglected and the third one had been renovated 30 years ago,” Winslow says. “We moved them all and created a little village of Civil War-era houses.”

Their next tasks will be to connect the site, which is split in two by a four-lane highway, and to design a 60,000-squarefoot museum that creates a narrative around ideas rather than artifacts.

Vines Architecture has also been invited by Johns Hopkins Berman School of Bioethics to design a multidisciplinary building on its East Baltimore campus. This structure will honor Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman whose cells — used without her consent — have been instrumental in scientific and medical research for decades. Lacks visited Johns Hopkins in 1951 for treatment for cervical cancer. Some of her cells from a biopsy were collected and sent to a nearby tissue lab for research. These cells, now known as “HeLa” cells, were the first that could be multiplied and shared in a lab setting — making it possible to study effects of hormones, drugs, radiation and more without using human subjects. “This will be a transdiscipline building for telling that complex story, about ethical issues of science and sometimes civil rights that were essentially violated,” Vines says.

It’s in line with the firm’s ethos — to be deliberate about taking on projects that will support the community and enhance life within it. “We see public work as programs to bring people together for discourse and dialogue,” says Thomas.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 83
All images courtesy Vines Architecture
SCAN HERE FOR TICKETS! WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7 • 6 - 9 PM UNION STATION • RALEIGH, NC Join us for our annual holiday shopping event. Browse more than 30 local retailers while enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres — plus giveaways, swag bags & more! PRESENTEDBY Designed for Joy • USU Candles • NCMA • Autumn Cobeland Art • Ella’s Popcorn Peppertrain Jewelry • One And Only Paper • Nazz Ares • Nons Salts • Cornelia Home Green Front Furniture • Seton McGlennon • If It’s Paper • The Bath Place Papermill Creative • Sweetgrass Home • New South Pattern House • Addis Jemari Benevolence Farm • Logan Trading Co • Hampton Farms • and more! SUPPORTEDBY


86 WINnovation 91 Hopscotch 2022 92 Bluegrass Live! 93 Chairity Premier Party 94 TrueVision Kids’ Day 94 Rail & Stile Open House To have your event considered for The Whirl, submit images and information at
WALTER’s roundup of gatherings, celebrations, fundraisers, and more around Raleigh.
Maddy Gray
The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 85
WINnovation speakers Zena Howard, Jaki Shelton Green, Anita Watkins and Valerie Hillings.

WINnovation 2022

On September 16, WALTER hosted WINnovation at The Umstead Hotel & Spa. This annual event, now in its eighth year, celebrates local female leadership and the themes of innovation, diversity and mentorship through storytelling.

The evening kicked off with guests attending workshops on professional and personal development. They were led by Kristine Sloan, executive director of Leadership Triangle, Sarah Glova, CEO of Reify Media, and Sharon Delaney McCLoud, director of corporate communications at UNC Health.

Guests then enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and drinks on the terrace outside before sitting down for a three-course dinner in the ballroom. During dinner, each of the WINnovation speakers delivered their talks. Architect Zena Howard, principal and global cultural and civic practice chair at Perkins&Will, spoke about harnessing the power of history and place through her work. North Carolina Museum of Art director and CEO Valerie Hillings spoke about rising through the curatorial ranks

to manage and reimagine The People’s Collection. Rex Health Ventures managing director Anita Watkins spoke about her pivot from government relations to venture capitalism, an industry where women are underrepresented and underfunded. And North Carolina poet laureate Jaki Shelton Green told the story of a talisman that has been passed through her family for generations, and how it relates to her call to give voice to her people and bring poetry to those with limited access to the arts. The panel discussion touched on the balance between obligations of work and family, and the responsibility of women to lift up other women. Guests left feeling inspired and energized.

The evening would not have been possible without our partner Bank of America, sponsor Diamonds Direct and workshop sponsors UNC Health, Wegmans and Duke Fuqua School of Business. Thank you also to our table sponsors, Women Business Owners Network of the Triangle, Truist Wealth, City of Raleigh, The Tiffany Circle at American Red Cross, Hutchison Law and Designed for Joy. We appreciate your support!

Re treats for Roman tics!

If you have never stayed at O.Henry Hotel or Proximity Hotel in Greensboro for a romantic getaway you are in for a sweet treat. Check out our romantic packages and more!

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The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 87
Sharon Delaney McCloud Sarah Glova Patricia Sasser
WINNOVATION Heartwarming Holiday Celebration • Tours of Decorated Governor’s Palace and Historic Homes • Jonkonnu and Fife & Drum Performances • Sword Swallowers, Magic Tricks, Juggling & More! • Black Powder Fireworks Display Dec. 10 & 17 4:30-9:30 PM • Calendar of Events (800) 767-1560 EXOTIC AMARYLLISES ARRIVING EARLY NOVEMBER, IN TIME FOR HOLIDAY BLOOMS! Fine Porcelains, Fun Furnishings, Vintage Barware, Unique Gifts 1846 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh NC 27608 • 919-621-1771 Follow us on Instagram and Facebook @thefabfoo VISIT OUR POTTING STATION AND CHOOSE A GIFT SURE TO BRING JOY FOR WEEKS TO COME!
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Weymouth Wonderland

Holiday Festival

Dec 2 - 4

Three Days of Something Wonderful for Everyone!

Candlelight, Carols & Cocktails is for Grown Ups: Light up the season with a casual and comfortable evening gettogether. Friday, Dec. 2, 5 pm. $50 Members • $60 Non-Members

Outdoor Wonderfest & Market is for the Whole Family to go Walkin’ in a Weymouth Wonderland. Our grounds will be a holiday family funderland featuring: local vendors and artisans; Weymouth’s own Holiday Shoppe; food from some of our area’s popular food trucks; wandering minstrels and choristers; Santa and Mrs. Claus in their magical toy shop. And more!

Saturday, Dec 3, 10-4 pm. Entry fee of any $ donation

Teddy Bear Tea is For Kids ages 3-10, to enjoy an activitypacked event, with an adult by their side. All are welcome to bring their favorite teddy bear for an afternoon filled with fun!

Sunday, Dec. 4, two seatings 1 or 3:30 pm. $25 per child, $30 per adult

For tickets visit:

To receive 5% off, use promo code: DTWA

Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities

555 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines, NC A 501(c)(3) organization

Maddy Gray Guests on the terrace at The Umstead Hotel & Spa Destiny Allison, Tessa Kitko Katlyn Bronzalez, Camille Kauer Lee Whitener, Destiny Crossingham, Misha Lazarra, Cyndi Hall, Brennan Moore, Christina Ritter


This is where Raleigh happens. Vibrant energy meets classic Carolina style at City Club Raleigh, the city’s go-to destination for high-tech business amenities, outstanding personalized service and world-class fun. This is the place where industry, professional and civic leaders gather in the states capital for meaningful business connections and vibrant social activity.

919.834.8829 I I 150 Fayetteville St. Suite 2800 I Wells Fargo Capital Center I Raleigh, NC 27601
Krista Covey, Candace Minjares Lisa Scott, Kimberly WilliamsJessica Bossiere, Cynthia Rowe, Amy Carroll Wendy Artis, Elizabeth Cantino, Felicia Woodard, India Miles Prather, Alexanderia Moore
The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 89
Maddy Gray Julia Craig, Allison Jackson, Alistar Erickson-Ludwig
Karen Howell, Anna Beavon Gravely Carolyn McCoy, Ryan Johnston

PARADE may be over...



Maddy Mize, Katie Brown, Shital Vyas, Kathy Brown Jennifer Fox, Cristina Leos, Sierra Anderson Ayn-Monique Klahre, Jaki Shelton Green, Zena Howard, Anita Watkins, Valerie Hillings Majela FonsecaColony Little Virginia Parker, Valerie HIllings, Kari Stoltz
Maddy Gray


The weekend of Sept. 8, Raleigh welcomed dozens of musical acts for Hopscotch. Bands performed on outdoor stages in City Plaza on Fayetteville Street and in Moore Square, as well as in smaller club shows at The Pour House and Slim’s. In addition to the music, Hopscotch hosted a Pop-Up Raleigh Art + Vintage Market for guests to peruse.

wrightsville beach Holidays BEACH blockade runner beach resort CELEBRATE WITH US! Stay three nights and leave the rest to us! Enjoy a spectacular Thanksgiving meal at EAST, a special enhancement delivered to you before the Flotilla viewing, breakfast in bed on Friday & Saturday, and Sunday Jazz Brunch! 855-421-2884
Samantha Everette Sean Kuty and the Egypt 80 Jullz Muthama
Courtney Barnett
The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 91



From Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, the IBMA hosted its Bluegrass Live! music festival. Due to Hurricane Ian, all the musical acts were moved indoors to the Raleigh Convention Center and the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts — but guests still happily listened, jammed, shopped and enjoyed food and beverages, despite the deluge.

Bryan Regan Piedmont Regulators Molly Tuttle & Golden Hogway
nofo @ the pig | 2014 fairview road | 919.821.1240 | Let’s
Salt & Pepper Shaker Set Company’s Coming! Freshen up your table with hand decorated ceramics by Hannah Turner. There’s no place like home for the Holidays!
Jim LauderdaleThe Sweet Lillies
Talk Turkey.


On Sept. 14, The Green Chair Project held a party to celebrate the interior designers and sponsors who contributed to its annual fundraising event, Chairity. This year, they reconcepted the event to create shoppable mini showrooms within their space on Capital Boulevard, in addition to custom designed chairs that were available for auction.



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An Intimate Full-Service Venue in Downtown Raleigh with a Speakeasy Style

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On Aug. 11, TrueVision Eye Care partnered with Haute House Kids to host a free event to raise awareness about kids’ vision and ocular health. There were glasses-themed crafts, an eyewear fashion show with Alara + Zane, an appearance from Encanto’s Mirabel, plus treats from Howling Cow for kids and Thanks a Latte for parents.


1 YEAR $25

2 YEARS $45

3 YEARS $60



On Oct. 1, Rail & Style, Cameron Jones Interiors and Kenda Kist Jewelry hosted an open house for friends and family to show their joint studio spaces.

Jennifer Lyerly and Jordan Drake (TRUEVISION); Cameron Jones (RAIL) Jennifer Lyery, Jordan Drake, Silas Dial, Charlotte Werts, Lilia Ourtal Santosuosso, Reverie Drake Frances Horton
Kenda Kistenmacher, Kelly Schupp, Cameron Jones Aura Marzouk Photography (wedding, lounge) Chris Nieto Photography (food)
“What more could they ask for?”





Stay literary this autumn with author talks, poetry jams, book drives and more.


Leave the leaves, bury the bulbs, observe and give thanks as you work in your patch of Piedmont this month.


The mountains get a lot of attention this time of year — but Raleigh boasts a few tourist-worthy spaces for leaf-peeping, too. Here are five easy hikes.

Big congrats to NC Poet Laureate Jaki

Shelton Green for landing on Forbes 50 over 50 list! Our state is lucky & proud to have her.

10 years after he landed on WALTER’s first cover (swipe to see it!) Raleigh-native & golf champ Webb Simpson reflects on his career + family life in our September issue.


@Marcibgordon Beautiful!!

@Carolynblackmonrealtor What a beautiful family!

@Robperry11 Growing family

@Megan.oconnor09 Happy ten years!

Postcards from North Carolina State University's dairy farm on Lake Wheeler Road. @jkasephoto

@Susannaklingenberg Magical!

@Relocatingtoraleigh Love


Take WALTER to go! There’s always something to discover on our website and social media. Here’s what’s been happening.
WALTER archives (BOOKS, LEAVES); Julie Leonard (FLOWER); courtesy Frances Mayes (MAYES); Maddy Gray (GREEN); Bob Karp (SIMPSON); Justin Kase Conder (FARM)
The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 95 TRENDING ON INSTAGRAM 76 790 216

Honest Chronicle

A love letter to David Sedaris

It was summer of 1997 when I fell in love with David Sedaris. I was sitting at my desk at the North Carolina Museum of Art reading proofs of A Store of Joys, a book of essays written in response to pieces in our art collection. I had just finished Sedaris’ essay, which described a fifth-grade field trip to the museum in which he encountered “The Resurrection of Christ,” a 17th-century painting by Giuseppe Maria Crespi. He wrote: “One look at this Italian altarpiece and you’ll know the museum practically went ‘baroque’ trying to pay for it.” And later on: “They coulda bought a Rembrandt, but instead they Botticelli.”

I got his number. The high-pitched voice that answered the phone seemed nervous when I introduced myself. Was I going to censor his piece, he likely wondered. Not a chance. I congratulated him on the essay, and we chatted about what he was working on. He’d already gotten attention for Barrel Fever and was about to publish Naked. He was also working on a play with his very famous sister Amy, “Incident at Cobblers Knob,” for a summer series at New York City’s Lincoln Center. I promised to get up there to see it.

Along with my close friend Ann Stewart, I headed to New York for opening night. While waiting for the

show to begin, I heard a familiar voice: it was Sedaris, with a group of friends. We introduced ourselves, wished him a “break a leg” and took our seats. It’s the only time I’ve ever met the man.

Nevertheless, for the last 25 years, I have enjoyed and been inspired by Sedaris’ irreverence, carefully crafted humor, colorful takes on the Raleigh of his youth and accounts of the evolving state of being gay.

Much of his storytelling involves the colorful Sedaris clan. The family grew up all around me when I was working and living in Raleigh in the 1970s and 80s. I didn’t know them, but knew well the places they animated: could that have been David sitting across from me at the IHOP on Hillsborough Street, or his brother Paul browsing at the Little Art Gallery at North Hills Mall?

And then there is the gay thing. Sedaris’ gayness is central to who he is, and he’s brought us along through his decades-long romp from sexual bemusement to confident, well-adjusted gay man. The journey — though I hate that term — is never well laid out for any of us. But Sedaris’ mix of humor and honesty keeps the adventure human and fun.

He’s described his relationship with Hugh Hamrick as it’s evolved over the years with deft sensitivity, which does not exclude its associated foibles. What to call him — partner, boyfriend, husband, lover? As Sedaris shared their conversations about these issues in an era of surprising progress for LGBTQ communities, we gay folks both related and celebrated.

Every bit of that honesty, wit and irreverence is in his latest book, HappyGo-Lucky. He shares the complexities of later life, probing his testy relationship with his late father, his sister Tiffany’s suicide and the disruption of living through Covid times. Yet still, Sedaris finds the funny parts.

I maintain that David Sedaris is the Geoffrey Chaucer of our time and place. And I’m grateful for this chronicler of our best, worst and most peculiar behaviors.

Katherine Poole
4401 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27612(919)


It’s feeling the pulse of the next level o of cardiac care and wellness. It ’s seeing possibilities where others see roadblocks. Pioneering new minimally invasive procedures and robotic-assisted surgeries. Transforming theor y into curative strategies. Even more than that, however, it ’s passion, compassion, th its assion, co All joining experience, exper tise and technology. novation forces to create a special place where in saves lives. Visit us at ear ts.

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