What It's Like To Be So Close To A NCAA Women's Soccer Title

My name is Reilly Parker and I am a freshman on the UNC Women’s Soccer team.  We’re heading to the Final Four in beautiful San Diego, California this evening. I am a California native, so to get to go back to my home state to play in the College Cup is a dream come true. The team and I just finished practice and cannot wait to get on the plane. The road to getting to where we are today has been unbelievable, and the feelings our team is experiencing mostly consist of being so blessed to be able to continue our journey together. This was our goal since the beginning of the season, to make it to the Final Four, for one another, our community, our program, and — most importantly — for our seniors.
We are playing the number one team in the nation, Stanford University on Friday in the Semifinals of the College Cup.   We know they are going to give us a run for our money. After showing our resilience in the game against BYU last Friday (where we won in overtime), every team in the nation now knows what we are capable of and that we will fight until the very last second to protect one another. The Stanford women’s soccer team is an extremely talented group of girls.  One of their standout players is Chioma Ubogagu, a striker from Coppell, Texas.   Along with my UNC teammates Kealia Ohai and Crystal Dunn, Ubogagu is a member of the USA U20 Women’s National Team that won the World Cup gold in Japan back in September. Another player I am excited to play against is actually my best friend, Kate Bettinger from Tiburon, California. I have grown up playing with her and it was always our dream to end up in the Final Four together, whether it was on the same team or opposing.  It’s going to be the experience of a life time for me and for Kate.
We have so much respect for the opponents we are going to face and we know that a win will not come easy.  But we are ready to grind and work for 90 minutes and more if necessary in order to walk away with a win, headed to the finals.  We are ridiculously fit, technically sharp, and one hundred percent ready to take it to the Cardinal on Friday. I have to sign off because I have a plane to catch, but stay tuned for more posts about this week’s endeavors and experiences in San Diego, California! Go Heels!

You can follow Reilly on Twitter @RParkerr13

Heel, Ram, Gym, Java

OK, for our game against football arch-rival NC State, stories about a Heel, a ram, a gym and java.  First, the timeless question, “What’s a Tar Heel?” Well, there are several versions but, for the one I’ve heard most, let’s return to NC’s colonial history. We have a lot of pine trees and, along the coast where our state’s history began, tall long-leaf pines. 
Those “boys” were the basis for our colonial economy—tar, pitch and turpentine.    Visitors to North Carolina recounted and recorded the spectacle of seeing many barefooted North Carolinians who regularly walked through these long-leaf pine forests and, because of it, bore tarred resin on the bottom of their heels. 
The tree and naval stores became so associated with our colony and state, it, of course, became not only our state’s nickname but this University’s moniker. Now for many years, being called a “Tar Heel” was a slap in the face.  The term implied a backward rube but, interestingly, the Civil War helped to change all that. The story goes that it was in the spring of 1864 when, after a battle in Virginia, a group of Virginians and North Carolinians hooted at one another.  After being teased about whether there was any tar left down in the Old North State, one North Carolinian retorted that maybe some more should be found and placed on the heels of the Virginians so they might stick better in the next fight.  The exchange was communicated to Robert E. Lee who smiled and mused aloud, “God bless those Tar-Heeled boys.”  Hence, like tar, our nickname stuck and honorably so.
So now that we’ve talked about the Tar Heel thing, what’s the story behind a ram as our mascot?  Back in 1924, cheerleader Vic Huggins reasoned that if Georgia had a bulldog and NC State had a wolf—well, the Heels needed something.  Huggins persuaded athletic business manager Charlie Woollen to fork over $25 and the search began.  Shipped from Texas to Chapel Hill and introduced at a pep rally before the VMI game…Ta-Dah…


…a not-so-impressive Rameses made his debut. But why a ram? Two seasons earlier a bruising fullback, Jack Merritt, led Carolina to a 9-1 record.  So bruising he was nicknamed “the battering ram.” A-ha—Huggins’ inspiration. Rameses’ first game was November 8, 1924.  Carolina was locked in a scoreless tie with a then-powerful VMI team. Late in the game, Bunn Hackney was called upon to attempt a field goal. Before going in, he rubbed Rameses’ head and then promptly drop-kicked a 30-yard field goal to win the game, 3-0. Rameses’ storied presence began. Now, from a ram to a gym.   
Woollen Gym, which was home to the 1957 National Champions, was a nice facility but Head Coach Frank McGuire wanted better.  He wanted one to rival NC State’s Reynolds Coliseum.  It would take a while.  In 1955, there were leaks and it was going to cost $20,000 to get ’em fixed.  UNC officials complained but were told the state didn’t have the money.  Well, the VP of UNC, William D. Carmichael, had a solution. 
The Monday, following a Saturday home game against State, word came in that $20,000 had just been allocated from the Emergency Contingency Fund.  What happened in the course of 2 days?  Well, it seems Carmichael got some tickets for the State game and gave them to members of the Appropriations Committee of the General Assembly.  It rained like crazy that Saturday and their seats just happened to be directly under the leaks.  Problem solved. And finally, that java thing.

The Josephus Daniels Student Stores was named for the publisher of the Raleigh News & Observer.  He was, also, Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of the Navy.  On top of that, he was a member of the temperance movement. That being said, he axed the rum ration for the US Navy.  Sailors were not pleased.  The new stimulant was coffee and, out of anger and frustration, men of the US Navy derisively asked for “a cup of ‘ole Joe.”  Enjoy your “ole Joe” and, while you’re at it, enjoy the game. 

Fracking will affect air & water quality in the Triangle

Triangle residents may not realize that fracking areas run through Wake, Durham, Chatham, Orange, and Lee counties, affecting the water supply of 2.4 million people.  This map shows watersheds and fracking areas (slide 2 at this link).

North Carolina has the least separation between water and natural gas layers of rock, where fracking fluids could irreversibly pollute the water supply.  Some fracking fluids contain 93 times more benzene than diesel.   ProPublica identified 1,000+ documented cases of water contamination nationwide near fracking sites prior to 2009.   In Houston, there is more air pollution from fracking than cars!  A Texas hospital reported asthma rates 3x higher than the state average in counties with drilling sites, with one-quarter of children having asthma.  A new shale health office has opened in Pennsylvania.  For 387 mostly temporary jobs and a five year supply of low-priced natural gas in NC, the current legislature is willing to sell out our air and water quality.

I am afraid we will open a Pandora’s Box if we allow fracking in our state. Health problems seen at the new shale health clinic in PA are suspiciously similar to those that caused the mayor of Dish, TX to move out of his own town where he allowed fracking – the severe nosebleeds of his kids. All the different Ethyl Methyl Deathyl chemicals fracking puts into the air are not a happy addition to our already ozone-polluted air in NC. The industry will have jurisdiction over municipalities on this, where municipalities have no control. Our watersheds are exactly where the shale rock is located.

If other states have not been able to make fracking work without creating health problems, what makes us think it can be done safely in ours?

Governor Perdue’s veto early this week is the only thing that can stop this.

What are your thoughts? Is North Carolina different from PA and TX? Is Governor Perdue going to make the right decision? Let us know in the Comments below.


The Republican nominee: It's going to be Rick Perry

Don’t write off Rick Perry.

You ask, why not?

Because he is going to be the Republican nominee for President and will give Barack Obama a heck of a race next fall.

You are laughing, aren’t you?

If I had made this prediction six weeks ago, you would not have laughed. No, you would have said something like, “Well maybe” or “probably so.”

You would not have been laughing like you are now. You might have let me know that I was stating the obvious and given me a big “So what!”

Not now though.

The last few weeks have not been kind to the governor of Texas.

After his near coronation as Republican nominee when he formally entered the race in August, it has been mostly downhill for Perry:

*The surfacing of remarks made in 1992 in which Perry disparaged North Carolina barbecue, saying that Texas road kill was better.

*Calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme.

*Poor ratings from the media on his performance in the debates with other candidates.

*Press reports about a sign that used a racially charged word to identify his family’s leased hunting ranch,

*The meteoric rise of Herman Cain in the polls and the imaginations of conservative voters.

*Perry’s collapsing poll numbers.

The political pundits have declared him to be road kill. (Remember: North Carolina barbecue is better!) They have moved the conversation from Perry to their current view that Mitt Romney is the almost certain Republican nominee.

So, why do I think Perry will rise again?

First of all, remember John McCain’s campaign for the 2008 nomination. Starting out strong, his campaign faltered in the summer and early fall of 2007. His poll numbers declined. Money ran out. Staff left. Like they did Perry, the pundits wrote him off.

In the early winter, he came back, beating Romney in New Hampshire and surging to the nomination.
Today, Perry has strengths and resources that put him in a better position for a comeback than McCain’s situation in October 2008:

*McCain had run out of money to conduct his campaign. Perry, on the other hand, raised $17 million in the last quarter, more than any other Republican candidate.

*Like McCain in 2008, Perry is not Mitt Romney. So far polls show that 75 percent of Republicans are still unwilling to register support for the current favorite to win the nomination, even though they know him well. While establishment Republicans have lined up behind him, Romney does not excite the “non-country club” voters. Thus, if and when there is a single credible opponent facing Romney, that opponent stands a good chance of winning the nomination.

*None of the other announced candidates are “credible.” Herman Cain is exciting and provocative but will not survive the spotlights that blind an inexperienced candidate. The others are already toast. Perry has been singed but is still very much alive.

*As governor of a large state where money talks, Perry can squeeze more money to fund his campaign.

*Most important, as former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told me a few weeks ago, Perry is “comfortable in his boots.” He talks and acts like the kind of person you would be happy to sit down with and drink coffee—or beer. In this respect, he compares to Ronald Reagan, who, even if you did not like his policies, you liked him. Romney might be just as nice, but he projects stiffness and superiority. In a close contest, the nice, comfortable candidate wins.

So there you have it.

Perry will be the Republican nominee.

But before you place your bets, I need to tell you something. Four years ago I was just as sure Fred Thompson was going to run away with the Republican nomination because he was the only candidate who was “comfortable in his boots.”


Is Perry 'Roast' in North Carolina?

“After what he said about our barbecue, he is a dead duck in North Carolina.” A Democrat was celebrating the report that Texas Governor Rick Perry once made a disparaging remark about our favorite food. According to a news report that quoted one of my favorite books, “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue” by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed, Perry, when he ate Eastern North Carolina barbecue in 1992, said, “I’ve had road kill that tasted better than that.”

Sure enough, after the North Carolina barbecue road kill story started circulating, Perry’s campaign, which had been sailing along at a pace that made Perry look like the sure nominee, took a nosedive.

The news reports said his debate performance was sub-par. His opponents attacked his decision to require girls in Texas to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus associated with vaginal cancer. They jumped on his advocacy for tuition support for illegal immigrants attending college in Texas. Then Herman Cain crushed him (37 percent to 15) in the Florida straw poll, and Mitt Romney did the same in Michigan (50 percent to 17).

“Don’t mess with Texas,” Perry says. Maybe he will have to learn, “Don’t mess with North Carolinians and their barbecue.”

If he wants some background about the political implications of “messing” with our barbecue, he can talk to our former attorney general and secretary of state, Rufus Edmisten. According to “Holy Smoke,” Edmisten “learned a painful lesson” when he was running for governor more than 25 years ago. At the time, somebody heard him saying, “I’ve eaten enough barbecue. I am not going to eat any more. I’m taking my stand and that is it.”

Today, Edmisten can laugh about his mistake. “Holy Smoke” quotes him, “I’d be eating barbecue three times a day for a solid year, and I got up one night and, in a very, very lax moment—the devil made me do it—I made a horrible statement. I said, ‘I’m through with barbecue.’ Well, you would have thought I made a speech against my mother, against apple pie, cherry pie, the whole mess.”
It was not a joke during the campaign. On September 20, 1983, a Wilmington Morning Star editorial, titled “Swine cooks the Rufus goose” took him to task, “If his opponents have the sense God gave a yam, they will mount Mr. Edmisten on a spit and roast him patiently on hickory coals until he is done, And then they will pick his bones.”

Now, another North Carolina commentator, Jeffrey Weeks, makes a similar suggestion in response to Perry’s “road kill” comment. “If Rick Perry wants to bring his campaign to the Carolinas we, of course, won’t reject him. We’ll welcome him with good ol’ southern hospitality. We’ll even show him how to cook real barbeque, not with a cow (Lord have mercy) but with a pig. And I know just the pig we’ll roast. ‘Governor’ Perry.”

So is Perry’s campaign mortally wounded? Is it “toast”—or, as Weeks suggests, “roast”?

Not so fast.

A couple of weeks ago former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs surprised me with his comments about Perry. Although he declined to speculate about which possible Republican presidential candidate would be easier or harder to beat, he cautioned not to underrate Perry. Gibbs thinks that Perry could be a strong candidate in the general election, notwithstanding his seemingly over-the-top positions on Social Security and North Carolina barbecue.

What Perry has, according to Gibbs, that the other Republican candidates lack, is “that he is comfortable in his boots—like Ronald Reagan.”

If Gibbs is right, Perry will not be thrown off course by his campaign’s recent downturns, and this time next year, he will be a formidable challenger to President Obama.


"I Applaud Chancellor Thorp"

There are a lot of us folks who applaud the Chancellor for putting institution above any sport.

I am a season ticket holder and a twenty-five year Ram but I do not want to see Carolina become a football factory. Our b-ball program makes it clear that excellence and graduating the kids can go together.

Recently the University announced that once again, for the tenth time, UNC was ranked as the 5th best public university (2011 “Americas Best Colleges,” usnews.com). Another USNews publication “Great Schools, Great Prices” ranks UNC as 1st among public universities; the sixth year UNC has held that ranking. Those rankings are just a sampling.

In football, the ACC ranks first among all conferences in graduation rates (Birmingham News). On a broader scale, UNC is tied with Penn State for 4th highest among all major football universities. That’s a full twenty points ahead of BYU, Alabama, Southern Cal, and LSU who graduate about half their players. Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma are below 50%.

Obviously the schools with poor graduation rates for football can still be great universities as I’m sure they would assert. The obvious implication is that they have somehow segmented their academic side from their major sports programs. There are lots of questions, but one is; does Carolina want to give up any pretense of the “student athlete?”

Perhaps the broader question for the “Carolina Nation” may be; looking just at graduation rates as one barometer, is it possible to achieve a top twenty program, which we all would applaud, without condemning up to half of our football players to an unfinished degree and, short of the NFL, artificially limited career prospects? To be a Texas, or an LSU, are we willing to essentially exploit kids who are big and fast for their entertainment value, knowing full well most of them will not find a place in the NFL?

Chancellor Thorp has said no. He has placed institution above sport and I applaud his decision. I like what I see and hear in Coach Withers and I look forward to a great year of college football in Chapel Hill.

David Wynne ‘71
Virginia Beach, Va.


"Carolina Firsters"?

This notion of “Football First” or “Basketball First” fans at Carolina amuses me.
Having graduated from UNC and been around for four decades, I am hard-pressed to think of a Carolina alumnus or rabid fan who roots passionately for one of the sports and disses the other. If you’re a Tar Heel fan, your pull for the Tar Heels. Period.
Now, there are different levels of personal passion, for a number of reasons.
You might like unrushed football weekends in Chapel Hill over traffic jams to and from the Dean Dome. Or you might like the sport of basketball (especially Carolina and ACC style) over the longer, weather-affected gridiron game.
But I honestly don’t know a single person who wants one of the sports to succeed at the expense of the other. Including me, who has been painted by some as a “basketball-firster.”
Indulge me for a moment. I actually like football better than basketball. Having played it from 6th grade through high school, and watched many more college and pro football games, I understand the sport better. Even if you see a football play for the first time, you can clearly watch it evolve from snap to whistle. Aside from the few sets that Carolina basketball has been running for 40 years before it goes freelance, I don’t recognize most of the plays. In basketball, you don’t need to watch the game that way. If the possession ends with a hoop, we are happy.
I fell in love with Carolina in the fall before I ever saw a UNC basketball game. It was at Kenan Stadium on a gorgeous autumn afternoon. Against Clemson. Don’t think we won, but it did not matter. As a city kid, I was hooked on the beauty and pageantry and majesty of it all.
A few months later, at the old Carmichael Auditorium, I was mesmerized by Frank McGuire when he strode onto the court with his South Carolina basketball team. I knew he had a history in Chapel Hill and soon learned the whole story. In those years, Dean Smith was a youngster, still earning respect from his players and the fans who idolized what McGuire had done in 1957.
Personal passion aside, there is also personal access in the makeup of Carolina football and basketball fans. Relatively few could cram into Carmichael as the Tar Heels and Smith became national figures in their own right. Students and staff got a few thousand tickets and the rest went to Rams Cub members, who had begun funding athletic scholarships at UNC.
Nothing really changed when the Smith Center opened in 1986, because the fan base had increased more disproportionately than the seating capacity. Let’s run the numbers.
Of the 22,000 seats in the Dean Dome, say roughly 7,000 go to students and 3,000 go to faculty and staff. That leaves 12,000. The Rams Club donors who financed the building got to buy all of those seats, the higher their gift the better the ticket location and number they could buy. Some bought two seats but others bought as many as 12 and still have them. If it’s an average of four, that means only 3,000 Carolina fans (or families) own basketball season tickets.
Carolina tries to sell at least three times that many season tickets at (now) 63,000-seat Kenan Stadium. Plus single-game seats always go on sale, which happens rarely in basketball. So, simply put, more Tar Heel fans can go to football games than basketball games, and that access may increase their personal pride as well as passion in that sport.
Some see the lucky basketball season-ticket holders as elitists because they possess a commodity. But I am guessing the great majority of Dean Domers also spend football weekends in Chapel Hill, and cheer for the football Tar Heels on Saturdays.
Whether losses ruin their weekends like occasional basketball defeats sour their next days is purely a matter of habit. Carolina has won three ACC football championships since 1966, compared to roughly 10 times that many regular-season or tournament titles in basketball. Plus Carolina has won five national championships, while the football Tar Heels haven’t played in what is equivalent to a BCS bowl game today since Choo-Choo Justice ran wild in the late 1940’s. So expectations are lower and losses are easier to get over in football.
But that doesn’t mean Tar Heel fans don’t want to win as much in football, and we have had so-called big-time teams before – from Bill Dooley in the ‘70s, to Dick Crum in the ‘80s and Mack Brown in the ‘90s. The story hasn’t been so pretty since Brown left in 1997, but that’s because we made some god-awful decisions and managed them poorly, sort of like what happened in the ill-fated Matt Doherty years, which were rectified by the return of Roy Williams.
I wasn’t a close friend of Mack Brown’s, but was close enough to have introduced him to his second wife, Sally, then a successful real estate developer in Chapel Hill. I know he did not want to leave UNC when Texas began throwing steer-troughs of money his way. We had just opened the Kenan Football Center and Brown had yet to move into his office. Sally was making a ton developing high-end neighborhoods in Chapel Hill.
Brown said to Athletic Director Dick Baddour, “If you want football to be as big as basketball, I want to make what (basketball coach) Bill Guthridge makes, and I don’t even know what he makes.” According to Brown, Baddour said that was impossible, that it would bankrupt the athletic department and that football will never be as big as basketball at UNC.” Even if you believe that, you don’t say that, especially to a football coach you are trying to keep.
The loss of Brown was the first of about a dozen major personnel blunders committed by Baddour, who eventually at the direction of Chancellor Michael Hooker offered Brown what he wanted. But, by then, Brown had accepted the Texas job, where today he is among the highest paid coaches in the history of college athletics.
Brown left a top-ten program in the hands of career assistant Carl Torbush, followed by loyal UNC alum John Bunting, both of whom for different reasons killed Carolina’s recruiting momentum. Brown’s NFL talent-laden Tar Heels turned into ACC middleweights that earned an occasional minor bowl bid. Even Butch Davis, with all the money and facilities he commanded, could not get to more than the Music City Bowl and left Carolina 0-4 versus N.C. State. Those relative failures make many UNC fans turn to basketball before they really want to.
I sat in Baddour’s office after Davis was hired, supposedly to explain why I had told someone that the Board of Trustees and not the athletic director had found our latest coach. This was after Trustee Paul Fulton was strutting around the Bobcats Arena one night, accepting handshakes and homage like Vito Corleone, saying it was a “team effort” to reel in Davis.
I asked Baddour if he was heartbroken over what had happened to Carolina football since Brown left, as I was, and said I did not care who hired Davis and was just glad he was here. Baddour leaned forward and said, “I hired Butch Davis.”
“Great, congrats, now let’s win some football games,” I responded. We shook hands and parted pleasantly.
But, of course, it did not go as any of us had hoped or, frankly, expected. Davis lost a lot of equity with Carolina fans when his new agent, Jimmy Sexton, wrangled a $291,000 raise and contract extension out of Baddour after going 4-8 his first season. Highly ranked recruiting classes did not produce highly ranked teams, rather disappointing fourth-quarter finishes in too many games and, eventually, the scandal we are all living through today.
There are no Basketball-first fans at Carolina, as far as I can tell. I have written five basketball books because, thankfully, someone wanted to buy them. If there were a market for UNC football books, experts like Lee Pace would have written several by now. Ironically, there finally may be some interest in one, but that’s because people would want to know exactly what has happened over the last 15 years. And it would not be a pleasant story.
Maybe such a book will have a happy ending. All Carolina fans, from what I can tell, would welcome that.
Don’t you agree?

Ask The Fashion Plate…

August finds us planning, dreaming about or actually taking that last summer vacation. It’s a huge travel month with beach weeks both exotic and local, destination weddings, mission trips and hometown visits with family and friends. I know people imminently traveling in all of the previous categories bound for destinations like Hawaii, St. John, Vermont, Boston, even Kenya (Molly Buckley)! For those of you who need a refresher in packing please refer back to my two-part column titled Traveling In Style with tips for smart and healthy packing.     
Recently a Chapelboro Insider wrote with a specific question regarding her pending trip to paradise that I wanted to address in a column. 
Trisha Peterson in Texas writes, “I am traveling to Hawaii in August and don’t want to over-pack. Any ideas on how to coordinate my wardrobe so that I don’t have to take too much?” 
Dear Trisha….Thanks for being a Chapelboro Insider and for your question. First, a big congrats on your upcoming exotic escape for your husband’s 50th birthday. (They’ve aptly deemed this trip Hawaii 5-0!) Second, could you find a way to pack me in one of your suitcases? (I’m not kidding.) 
Seriously, packing has become a major concern and burden for the air traveling populace. You want to have everything you need upon arrival at your destination, but you have to limit your luggage or pay the price. Even checking one bag on most airlines is an expensive proposition at $25. Add a second bag and you’re hit with another $30. Ouch! And what if your suitcase is over the weight limit of 50 pounds? Slap on yet another fee to the tune of $100. Check with your airline for specific charges on checked luggage and in-flight amenities before you head to the airport so that you’re not blind-sided when you arrive curb-side.
Back to Trisha’s question. Fortunately traveling to a warm weather destination means lightweight fabrics and less bulk. Packing light should be a breeze. Making a check-list is a great place to start  (sunglasses, sunscreen, swimming suit, etc.) and helps prevent forgetting the essentials. Here are some additional ideas to get you started.
·         Coordinate a color theme that will allow you to mix and match tops and bottoms creating multiple outfits. That will also help you narrow down your choices for accessories like shoes and jewelry. 
·         Limit your shoes. (If I could only take my own advice!) Shoes are bulky and take up precious suitcase space. Three pairs would be ideal (an absolute coup if I could ever pull that off): favorite flip flops, a neutral wedge or sandal that matches most of your dressier outfits and a pair of sporty shoes for outdoor adventures.
·         Most likely you will be living in your bathing suit and cover-up. Instead of taking five suits pick one or two of your favorites in similar styles, so you don’t have crazy opposing tan lines. Make sure you have one with more coverage for water sport activities like surfing or snorkeling.  Many cover-ups can double as active wear for day or evening wear at night. A sarong around the waist by the pool can be dressed up with a halter top, jewelry and wedges at night for dinner.
·         Even though paradise is hot be prepared for an evening breeze with a pashmina wrap or cardigan. To prevent cabin freeze and extra in-flight costs, pack either one in your carry-on to double as a blanket/pillow.
·         A crushable, packable hat not only protects you from the elements but hides bad hair days.
·         Lay everything you’ve selected out on your bed or floor and assess. Create outfits and make sure you don’t have multiples of too many items. Do your very best to edit before you start placing things in the suitcase. Take a trial size of Woolite so you can do hand washing if needed.
·         Trisha, since you’re a wife and mom it usually falls on your plate to keep both the hub and baby sated. (No surprise there, right?!) Pack snacks! Baggies of mixed nuts, crackers, goldfish plus a few cheese sticks and granola bars travel pretty well and should help curb the munchies.
·         Remember, you can always buy or borrow any essentials you may have forgotten once you arrive. That’s when the local discount store or hotel front desk staff comes in handy. If you’re in a more remote location, then hopefully you can borrow needed items from your traveling companions. That’s what friends and family are for!
I hope this quick packing review gets you and other readers motivated and keeps your luggage light. Look for more Q&A in future Fashion Plate columns. 
Send a postcard from paradise and Happy 50th to Gordon! Aloha….
These are my packing tips for paradise. Share yours below!

Red, White & Blueberries…

I just shipped my Mom, Pat Lopp, off to Texas for the week armed with in-flight essentials: healthy snacks (Kashi granola bars, baggies of nuts and Chex mix and Crystal Light packets to fill her water bottle), a layering piece (cardigan sweater) and trusty hand sanitizer. I also made sure she had her sunglasses and cell phone. Let me make it clear that she is perfectly competent and capable of remembering these things on her own, but a dose of my detail-oriented Girl Scout nature kicked in to help her get out the door at 5:00am. Talk about mother-daughter role reversal! Hopefully she was comfortable, sated and sanitized on her three hour sky trek. You can read more packing and healthy travel tips in my last two columns titled Traveling in Style. Nothing like putting my own advice into action!
Speaking of travel, it’s that time again. (I seem to be on a writing role with this travel theme.) As we approach yet another highly traveled holiday weekend it’s time to start thinking about what to take to the beach or the lake or the neighbor’s back yard this weekend. The 4th of July weekend brings together families and friends from near and far to celebrate all things red, white and blue.   White crystal sand beaches and Carolina blue skies; red sails on the coastal blue horizon; Mom’s blueberry buckle or cherry pie with homemade vanilla ice cream. And of course the American flag, our most iconic red, white and blue symbol. Everyone has their favorite 4th of July images and memories. My personal childhood favorite is an indelible one— perched high on a giant red boulder while watching a night sky explode with red, white and blue sparkling fireworks over the Colorado National Monument. That may be where my obsession for chasing sunsets and fireworks began!  
So, what to make and take and share with your favorite peeps this week? I’ve got a couple festive and tasty twists that have already proven to be crowd pleasers. First, let me introduce you to Blueberry Salsa. Healthy, festive, flavorful, colorful and just the right kick! And it’s easy to make in about 15 minutes. Plus blueberries are currently plentiful. (What a coup to find Harris Teeter offering a buy one blueberry pint get two free special earlier this month!)
Preparation: Coarsely chop 2 cups fresh blueberries. Stir together chopped fresh blueberries, ½ to ¾ cups whole small blueberries, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, 2 seeded and minced jalapeno peppers, 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper and ½ teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve. The recipe makes about 3 cups. (Adding a ¼ cup chopped onion is optional.) Presentation: Line a basket or tray with a red bandana. Pour the salsa in a medium to small glass serving bowl to show off the red and blue color and make it the centerpiece of your tray or basket. Add your favorite red, white and blue corn chips around the bowl for dipping. Tostitos brand white corn Scoops chips work really well for picking up the blueberries. 
Now for the twist that I created the second time I made Blueberry Salsa. You ready for a refreshing cocktail? Try a Skinny Spicy Blueberry Margarita. But make sure to save the juice from the blueberry salsa….that’s the secret ingredient! Start with a bottle of Skinnygirl Margarita (branded by healthy chef and reality TV star Bethenny Frankel) from your local ABC store. A rep assured me that Orange County ABC stores have plenty in stock. Pour the Skinnygirl Margarita mixture over ice in a rocks or margarita glass. Add a couple teaspoons of juice from the blueberry salsa and stir. Garnish with a few blueberries and a small slice of red pepper and you’ve got your red, white and blue cocktail with a kick!  

What to wear to your 4th soiree? Anything cool, comfortable and red, white and blue of course! Think light cotton, linen or terry cloth. Pull out a nautical motif with a red or navy striped knit dress. Nordstrom.com has featured this nautical striped look with key pieces for hot summer style. Target has a stylishly updated pair of Mossimo brand dark blue chambray roll tab shorts with front pockets and a matching waist tie belt. Pair it with a strawberry red ruffled tank or halter top, a white rope belt and wedge sandals in red, white or blue. Other ideas are skinny white jeans if it cools off or a fun summer sundress if you’re in the sweltering heat. Add a festive scarf or ribbon around your packable straw hat for a pop of holiday color. 

Now that you’ve started your celebration in style–sit back, relax and enjoy the fireworks show!

These are my twists on a red, white and blue holiday weekend. Share your 4th of July traditions below.


North Carolina books for summer reading

Summer is here.

Are there some North Carolina books in your summer reading book bag?
If not, here are some possibilities from authors who will be featured on upcoming programs on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch.
Rachel, the blue-eyed child of a black American GI and a Danish mother, is the central character in an award-winning novel, “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky” by Heidi Durrow. Durrow herself is the child of a Danish mother and an African-American father, whose military assignments brought him to North Carolina. The author’s real struggle to find her identity provided the background for the similar fictional struggle that Rachel faced. But the novel is a darker story, a more compelling one, of a child whose mother loved her so much she wanted her child to die with her. (Durrow will be my Bookwatch guest at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, June 17, and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 19.)
Suzanne Hobbs, who teaches at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, is a prominent public health professional and author of several books in the “for Dummies” series, including “Living Dairy-Free for Dummies.” Why would a distinguished professor want to write a book for dummies? She explains that the “dummies” formula is a big help for an author who wants to write clearly and simply. Lots of readers, most of whom are not dummies, appreciate the approach. And the books far outsell most of the academic books that Hobbs’s university colleagues write. (June 24,26)
Burnsville’s Abigail DeWitt’s new novel, “Dogs,” is not about dogs. It is the story of a judge’s daughter who grows up into trouble and nevertheless is admitted to Harvard, where those troubles compound. How she makes for a happier life in North Carolina as she grows older keeps the story from being overwhelmingly dark. Here is what Lee Smith says about the book: “Dark, sexy, and profoundly original—a Texas-hot family saga unlike any other. A brilliant and thought-provoking novel from the extravagantly talented Abigail DeWitt.” (July 1,3)
From “Birth of a Nation” in 1915 to Hattie McDaniel in “Gone with the Wind,” to Ethel Waters in “Member of the Wedding” in 1952, African-American actresses made their way into American movies in the first half of the last century.  In her new book, “African American Actresses: The Struggle for Visibility, 1900–1960,” UNC-Chapel Hill professor Charlene Regester tells the real stories of these women who became stars in a time of segregation and oppression. (July 8,10)
John Hart’s recent novel “The Lost Child” won for him a second Edgar Award for the best mystery novel of the year. He says his latest, “Iron House,” is even better. It is a page-turner, with much of the action set on a large estate near Chapel Hill owned by a wealthy U.S. Senator. (July 15,17)
A new author, Anna Jean Mayhew, and a new novel, “The Dry Grass of August”, take us all the way back to the racially-segregated Charlotte of 1954 and the poignant story of a young girl in a family under stress, being pulled apart by forces the girl does not understand. It is a story, in Lee Smith’s words, that is “written with unusual charm, wonderful dialogue, and a deeply felt sense of time and place.” (July 22,24)
Seventy-five years ago, down in Pinehurst, a young heiress married a charming but dead broke socialite. A few weeks later she dies under suspicious circumstances. Many people think the husband did it. Years later Steve Bouser, editor of the Southern Pines Pilot, tracked down the details. He tells the story of what he found in “Death of a Pinehurst Princess: The 1935 Elva Statler Davidson Mystery.” (July 29,31)

What’s on YOUR summer reading list?