(photograph taken on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill)
Rhonda Robichaux's (above) striking voice, rich in soul, charges across a crowded lawn at Weaver Street Market in Carrboro. She and her band perform again in Carrboro on Independence Day.
(photographs taken at Weaver Street Market in Carrboro)
(photograph taken at Town Hall off on Main Street in Carrboro)
(photographs taken of Crook's Corner Restaurant on the corner of Franklin Street and N Merritt Mill Road in Chapel Hill)
The mighty North Carolina Zoo is one of the largest natural habitat zoos -- sans concrete and steel cages. It spans 500 acres and is nestled in the center of the state, a little over an hour's drive southwest of Chapel Hill/Carrboro. The vast park is divided into two regions -- North America and Africa -- connected by shaded pathways linking animal exhibits. Those wary of hiking between "continents" can opt to shuttle by air conditioned tram. A walking tour can take up to seven hours to cover the entire park. Arrive early. Apply sunscreen. Sport the sneakers with the squishy soles.
(photographs taken at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, NC)
Rob on Lindsay: "She could make the best out of any situation. She just always brings a spark in." Lindsay on Rob: "A thousand things I love about Robbie D....definitely one of the coolest most funny laid back guys and extremely talented musicians that I know."
(photograph taken near S. Greensboro and Roberson streets in Carrboro)
Dogwood Tree blooms were crowned the North Carolina state flower in 1941. Seen across the state, its compact, solid wood was often used to create golf club heads, tool handles and butcher blocks. The bark was used as a treatment for mange -- perhaps where its name originates?
(photograph taken in Chapel Hill, NC)
Bold cups stacked in rows of colors emblazon the railings on Franklin Street. Look closely to uncover hand-written mantras in corresponding hues. The premise is to evoke emotion via bursts of color — inspired by Tibetan Prayer Wheels. The Color it Positive art installation by Helen and Mike Seebold is part of Windows on Chapel Hill’s pop-up art exhibits springing up through June throughout downtown Chapel Hill to showcase local artists and bolster the city’s vigorous arts community. The initiative is a collaboration between the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, Town of Chapel Hill Public and Cultural Arts Office, and smArts Creative Programs & Events. Check out more of Helen’s work at littleflowerart.com.
(photographs taken on Franklin Street between Basnight Lane and Kenan Street in Chapel Hill)
(photograph taken at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, NC)
Beading and sequins, pearl strands and gloves. Teens from Chatham and Orange counties arrive in clusters -- many by school bus -- to participate in Cinderella's Closet of Chatham County. The organization helps high school girls who might not be able to afford prom by outfitting them in ensembles certain to magnify memories. Volunteer "fairy godmothers" usher the students -- referred by community organizations and school staff -- as they till through racks of more than 600 dresses in a rainbow of colors, sizes and lengths. Seamstresses ensure a perfect fit. Scores of high heels, heaps of make-up, rows of clutches and cosmetic bags leave some speechless. The wide eyes and giggles among the girls are infectious. The the reactions, immeasurable:
"Now I can't wait for prom!"
"I wanted to go last year but I couldn't afford a dress. The one I had really liked, my friend bought. I wish I knew about this last year."
"I love it...I really, really love it."
"Wow, now I can brag I fit into a size 13."
"Did you get the purple one? That one was really pretty."
"Raise your hand if you like red?"
"My mom wanted me to text her pictures."
"I'm having so much fun!"
(photographs taken at Cinderella's Closet of Chatham County)
(photograph taken near Columbia and Rosemary streets in Chapel Hill)
Think Brothers Grimm. Think thought-provoking. Think outdoor canvas. Tucked away at the end of a Chapel Hill road is The Last Unicorn, an unexpected "unicorn forest" of antique oddities displayed across the five acres of Gaines Steer's property. He's opened shop. Retired and temporarily closed shop. And more recently announced a "Going out of Retirement Sale." His open air antique shop-come-art installation includes a collection of architectural salvage among iron gates and garden embellishments.
Gaines encourages visitors to meander into his woods rewarding the curious with unexpected details. It's an exploration that tugs on your sense of humor and child-like sense of splendor. Scattered about are iron-gated vignettes, oxidized ship bits, and pithy signs like "will barter for money" and "we sell ideas." Ornate cottages evoke a Hansel and Gretel vibe. A mini-amphitheatre peeks from beneath last season's leaves. Wooden bridges over swales connect stained glass cottages. And at the edge of the property, is a domed wooden structure designated for meditation. It's outfitted with Buddha ushered by an enormous glass Ying Yang symbol.
Gaines readily admits to his eccentricity, manifested in his front yard and services offered: memoir writing assistance, career and lifestyle coaching, Native American Medicine Wheel instruction. He even offers a map of his grounds on his web site.
You can spot him around town. He's the one driving the old brown Ford topped with a lounging unicorn permanently affixed to the roof.
(photographs taken off of Mount Carmel Church Road in Chapel Hill. The Last Unicorn is located at 536 Edwards Ridge Road in Chapel Hill.)
The food truck ricochets throughout Carrboro: Johnny's Gone Fishing, Fitch Lumber Parking Lot, and the lot down from Glass Half Full. Loyalists flock to the Latin Grill for its tamales de pollo con salsa verde, tacos al pastor, enchiladas con mole and creamy flan. Year after year of consistent accolades keep the truck humming. Walk-up service, downtown locations. Keep up with them on facebook.
(photograph taken in the parking lot down from Glass Half Full in Carrboro)
"Mr. Rock was my music teacher who actually said one sentence to me," shared Henry Winkler with a crowd at The Barn at Fearrington. "He said 'Winkler when you get out of here, you're going to be okay.' And I kept that one sentence in my heart like Leo DiCaprio holds onto the wind at the end of that boat movie."
Best known for his role of Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli on the 70s & 80s sitcom Happy Days, Winkler was in town with his co-author Lin Oliver as part of their national tour for Here's Hank: Fake Snakes. The Hank Zipzer series is a chapter book collection for children based on the misadventures of a 4th grade boy. As part of his appearance, Winkler discussed his own challenges with learning -- he was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 30 -- and urged parents and teachers in the audience to connect with children to encourage them to succeed.
"Every single one of you is so powerful and everything you say is so important," he pressed. "And it is so important that if you know a child with a learning challenge, believe me, the kid on his own, on his or her own, knows they're not doing well. They don't need to hear it again. They don't need to be punished again. They need you to buoy their self image. Because when they are ready they will fly if you keep them above water. They will meet their destiny. It's the way the world works."
Waving his hands and speaking staccato to drive a point, he pulled anecdotes from his own children, all three of whom have been diagnosed with dyslexia.
"You look at your child, I look at my children, you know, they're supposed to have a great desk, a good light, and a chair. Max who came running into the bathroom one morning and he said 'Dad, I know that they make corn oil out of corn, how to they make baby oil?' So Max stood at his desk. Put his knee on his chair. Turned on the light and listened to music. And I said, like I was told, 'You can't listen to music while you are doing your homework.' But maybe, the music was a tunnel that allowed you to go through it, concentrate, because the grades were coming home. I learned to shut up. The children know."
(photographs taken at The Barn at Fearrington in Pittsboro)