By John Nelson

    “Wait a minute, I’m caught.” You hear this expression frequently when threading through a stickery thicket of this stuff on a winter hike in the woods. That gives us a logical common name for this group of plants: the “wait-a-minute vines.” (“Blaspheme-vine” is another name, usually saved for the species forming the baddest, meanest, most prickly patches.)

  • Experience the way American colonists celebrated the holidays as historic Brunswick Town in Winnabow celebrates its annual An 18th Century Christmas from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13.

    Costumed interpreters will offer guided on-the-hour tours of St. Philips Anglican Church and historic Brunswick Town.

    Visitors can also enjoy colonial refreshments in the Brunswick Town Visitor Center, participate in traditional games, and try their hand at making Moravian paper stars and other 18th-century crafts.

  • Three concerts will light up the season in coming days on the stage of Odell Williamson Auditorium at Brunswick Community College.

    Brunswick Big Band Dec. 13

    Brunswick Big Band will present a concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13. Admission is free, but concert-goers are asked to bring a pair of socks to benefit the local Comfort Socks campaign.

    Marine Band Dec. 13

  • Renowned country singer Brandon Bailey and his band will be “Jammin’ for the Homeless” from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at the OIB Crab Shack & Seafood Grille at 125 Causeway Drive in Ocean Isle Beach.

    Organizers will be collecting items to put in backpacks, including socks, canned meat and blankets.

    Light appetizers will be served, with entertainment provided by Brandon and friends. Locals are just asked to bring an item for the collection.

  •   By Linda Arnold

    Does it seem everywhere you look there are images of happiness and glee — anticipation of close family gatherings and chestnuts roasting on an open fire?

    You’re not exactly feeling it, though, and you don’t know why. Holidays can do that to us. Internally, there are huge emotional triggers. And, externally, it’s hard to sustain that level of heartfelt awe in the Folgers coffee commercials and Hallmark movies.

  •  For many Americans, the days after major holidays should be called “leftovers.” For many American pets, it should be called “GI upset.” That's because too many pets will be fed too many leftover foods that will result in too many, er, potty problems. To help your pet avoid the “leftover runs” or worse, follow my holiday food rules for pets.


    Pace your pets

  •  By John Nelson


  • Pope Francis has long returned to the Vatican. Once an icon for media contemplation, he has all but disappeared from the scene, save for a few memories of poignant moments shared here and there, mostly among church folks. However, to refrain from remembering an invitation he continually proffered would be sad, if not disastrous. Pope Francis fairly begged us, all of us everywhere, to engage in a culture of encounter.

  •  It started with a goofy carol parody. My staff knew of my love affair with silly animal songs; it was time to unleash my unique melodic enthusiasm with Calabash.

    “On the first day of Christmas, my owner gave to me

    “A puppy for company.”

  •  By Linda Arnold


    I feel trapped.

    I’m bored.

    We’re growing in different directions.

    I hate my job.

    The kids are driving me crazy.

    I never have enough time for myself.

    What’s the point?  He’s never going to change.

    I don’t have enough money.

    I can’t start a new career at this age.


  •  By John Nelson

    And now, ladies and gentlemen, for your late autumn enjoyment, I am proud to present a plant that is common as dirt … and a member of the sedge family!

  • ‘Tis the season and week for Christmas parades, especially in Calabash and Shallotte.

    The 20th Anniversary Calabash Christmas Tree Lighting and Spirit of Calabash Parade are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4.

    The Spirit of Calabash Parade rolls out with a variety of participants including the Shriners’ Hillbilly Truck and Sudan Daredevils.

  • Join Greenlands Farm at 668 Midway Road in Bolivia for its fourth annual Winter Farm Fest from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5.

  • If you seek an out-of-the-ordinary setting for a holiday experience, look no further than the Museum of Coastal Carolina, Ingram Planetarium, Battleship North Carolina and the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

    From the traditional to the unusual, you’re sure to find an event to put you in a festive mood while learning more about our area and all it has to offer.

    Museum of Coastal Carolina

    The Museum of Coastal Carolina is hosting several activities designed to enhance the spirit of the holiday season.

  • Celebrate Christmas at the Old Bridge in Sunset Beach at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, at 109 Shoreline Drive West.

    Highlights will include music by Linda Ladrick, Mandee Williams, The Seaside Belles with director Kathryn Parker and West Brunswick High School Show Choirs, Harmony in Motion and Sweet Harmony directed by Annette Horton.

    Festivities include a Christmas carol sing-along and light refreshments consisting of Christmas cookies and wassail.

    For more information, call 363-6585.

  • Model trains are rolling into their respective stations at two venues this holiday season.

    The first event has been making whistle-stops during November, including Thanksgiving weekend at Calabash Marketplace at 10050 Beach Drive.

    The marketplace is partnering with the Intracoastal Model Railroad Club to expand train exhibits during the month of Thanksgiving.

    Highlights include eight operating layouts. Thanksgiving weekend, the club will be hosting workshops and clinics.

  • The Saturday after Thanksgiving is always super in Ocean Isle Beach.

    That’s the day residents and visitors converge for festivities to kick off the holiday season.

    The fun begins with the Super Saturday Christmas parade at 2 p.m. Participants will meet for judging at 1:15 p.m. in the parking lot of the Museum of Coastal Carolina at 21 E. Second St.

    Participants gussy up vehicles, golf carts, bicycles and themselves with holiday decor and attire.

  •  By Linda Arnold


    Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday — only surpassed by New Year’s Day, the ultimate new beginning (but that’s another column)!

  •  “Sweet is the swamp with its secrets, until we meet a snake;

    ‘Tis then we sigh for houses, and our departure take.” Emily Dickinson.


  •  Sometimes it’s tough to be grateful. It’s easy to forget the good in our lives when we see so much bad in the world. An encounter with a seemingly petulant pet owner reminded me how thankful we should be that we share our lives with animals.