The Chapel Hill Herald: Columnists

Apr. 03, 2014 @ 10:58 AM

Spring (tax) break, hamburgers and miscellaneous

I’m in the mountains for spring break. (Most of my students are, a) in Hawaii; b) in Europe; or c) on a cruise, whereas the only way I could afford even the mountains was if I came with a friend who owns a house here. “Free” is my favorite price.) 

Meanwhile, there are only nine more days, folks. Nine more days until the tax man cometh. I’m sure you knew that. I’m sure you’ve got everything organized, listed, filled-in, calculated and submitted. You probably had your H&R Block appointment weeks, or even months, ago, and are waiting for your $11,000 refund … this is a big reason you and I will never be friends. I brought all my tax stuff up here, hoping to find someone who will “do” my taxes for … well … nothing! 

Mar. 29, 2014 @ 06:04 AM

Dear person who drove up my driveway yesterday

I don’t know who you are, but I don’t mind that you drove up to see my house for sale, since you can’t see the house from the street, and you were driving a nice BMW, so I figured you were probably not a robber or serial killer, although why can’t a serial killer drive a BMW if he wants to, it’s a free country!

Anyway, you seemed to like what you saw -- even if you haven’t made an appointment to see it yet, not that I’m pushing -- because I could see someone smiling in the car, although if you’re riding around in a BMW why wouldn’t you smile, right?  

Mar. 22, 2014 @ 01:19 PM

Finding greater vision in picture books

I know the language of picture books well. I cringe at dialogue that doesn't ring true and prose that clunks. I swoon over unusual word uses. I also believe that some of the most glorious art in America is found in its picture books.
I’m often wowed by illustrations, but not always sure why. Recently, I taught a 10-hour continuing education class specifically for art teachers. My goal was to link reading, writing, art and Common Core State Standards. My suspicion was that I would learn more than I taught. I was right. I wasn't alone; those in the class who were non-art specialists had our eyes opened by the superb vision of two amazing art teachers, Deb Cox and Barbi Bailey-Smith. Here’s a small peek at the kind of things we learned.

Mar. 22, 2014 @ 08:21 AM

A couple’s celebration paves way for another

Sometimes big events coincide in single years, as they did for us in 2011 when Peter’s 60th birthday and our 30th anniversary passed within a month of each other.  Peter retired to the farm and we convinced our daughters to throw us a party at the Murphey School.  We had a lot of fun there with family and friends.

Mar. 20, 2014 @ 11:59 AM

It’s Time to Play WHEEL. OF. (MIS)FORTUNE!

People often ask me where I “come up with” the ideas for my columns. I don’t have to “come up with” anything, because my life is naturally filled with material from the moment I get out of bed. I’m a woman, a daughter, a sister, a mother, a teacher, a dog-owner, a consumer, a driver -- combine that with the fact that I am a gal for whom the simplest things become complicated, bizarre, hilarious, dangerous and unheard-of events, and you’ll begin to get it. My life just kind of writes itself. Watch:


Mar. 15, 2014 @ 11:05 AM

Take me out to the ball game!

Last week, I covered classes for a friend who teaches high school PE. I don’t normally cover anyone in PE, because I hate to sweat, whereas sweating seems to be the goal of Physical Education classes. You know, all that heart-rate-target-zone stuff, which, please, I can’t ever get the math right anyway, so I shouldn’t be expected to, like, do it. I also can’t do the math for the “Body Mass Index,” thank God, so I can’t be blamed for not adhering to that, either. 


Mar. 12, 2014 @ 10:20 PM

With lights out, experiment in traffic deregulation fails

Widespread power outages generated an experiment in deregulation at High Point intersections Saturday.

How do drivers react when the traffic lights don't work? The answer was: not very well on the city's busiest streets.

Mar. 08, 2014 @ 10:53 PM

Letting go of long-held assumptions can be good

A few months ago I flew to LaGuardia airport in NY.  Upon deplaning, I found myself in an unfamiliar space.  “This isn’t LaGuardia,” I thought in a panic, and experienced a ground-shifting confusion like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

Mar. 08, 2014 @ 11:37 AM

How the threat of horrible pain can make you skinny -- Part II

Welcome back to Part II of “How The Threat of Horrible Pain Can Make You Skinny” -- or, how I have finally discovered the answer to fast, effective weight loss -- which I learned because I was in desperate need of avoiding the potentially horrendous pain of a knee replacement. I know you probably think I’m just a ridiculous, wussified weakling because this potentially horrendous pain scares me so much, and you think I just need to get over it and woman-up, grit my teeth and take it, and you know what? I don’t care.


Mar. 01, 2014 @ 09:29 PM

A whirling dervish – but, a role model?

On Feb. 23, the Syracuse basketball team came down to Durham to play Duke. 

With less than 20  seconds left in the game, Duke was leading, 60 to 58.  Syracuse had the ball.  With only 10.5 seconds left,  the Syracuse forward, C. J. Fair, drove in for the basket.   He collided with Duke player Rodney Hood.  A referee blew a whistle, and for a few brief seconds, many fans held their breath.  Was it a charge against Syracuse or a block by Duke?  A referee ruled it was a charge by Syracuse

Mar. 01, 2014 @ 05:11 PM

Threat of horrible pain can make you skinny

Those of you who have wandered with me over the years through every diet plan, opinion, advice, success, failure, misery and raison d’etre (that’s right, I am waxing lyrical, mostly because I’m hungry) will be thrilled (or skeptical, or possibly bored) to know that I have finally found my answer. No, it will not be the answer for all of you -- not the vegetarians or vegans or fruitarians, and especially not those who don’t need to lose weight because they “have the metabolism of a hummingbird and can eat just anything I want and it NEVER affects me (giggle)!” And, to that last group, I would say firmly: Turn the page, close the computer, go out into the world and spread your joy -- we will never be friends.


Mar. 01, 2014 @ 12:42 PM

Taking a journey through Ann Patchett's life

I have been an Ann Patchett fan for years.  I have enjoyed the range and invention of her novels and even suspended disbelief as, in “State of Wonder,” she led me on an unlikely literary journey in the jungles of the Amazon .
I never knew her skill at nonfiction until I came upon her recent collection of 22 essays published from 1997- 2012, gathered in “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage” (book from Harper; audios from HarperAudio, 11 hours, 35 minutes). I listened to all of the essays, some of them a second time and then bought the book so I re-read the many passages that spoke to me. Listening and reading, I found myself in evocative landscapes layered with meanings that lingered and phrases that stopped me with elegance, honesty, or playfulness.

Feb. 22, 2014 @ 09:46 AM

State wants regulatory reform but must protect the public

In a legal alert covering North Carolina's 2013 Regulatory Reform Act, law firm McGuireWoods said its potential for "regulatory chaos is high."

Just what we want to hear after the coal ash spill into the Dan River.

Feb. 20, 2014 @ 10:40 AM

Yes, my friends, sometimes you just snow

I went to the mountains with friends last weekend, since we had three days off, and got there just in time to see their snow! Ten frickin’ inches of it, slammin’ down like angry BBs, defying the fairly warm ground not to let it accumulate. HAH, said the snow, absorb THIS! 
And, with the wind blowing as well, it was like walking through a sandstorm -- snow in every nook and cranny you own, I mean nooks and crannies you didn’t even KNOW you owned. And, I absolutely loved it. 

Feb. 15, 2014 @ 10:34 PM

Tonight is cold, snowy and Carolina blue

Tonight is one of the holiest ones of the basketball season: UNC is playing Duke. If you didn’t know that, or don’t care about it, just put the paper down now. You wouldn’t understand how UNC Royaholics feel today, or often this season. You just wouldn’t “get” our agonizing over the bewildering losses, the repeated miscalculations -- and the frickin’ inability to make a frickin’ foul shot - that have overwhelmed our hero … oh, and the boys, too … this season.