•  Common kitten questions 

    Cats are curious critters. They’re fiercely independent, notably nocturnal and difficult to discern. In other words, they’re probably cleverer than most humans. Here are some of the most common kitten questions I get from cat people.


    How long do cats live?

  •   By Linda Arnold

    As I write this, there’s a national lottery jackpot up for grabs to the tune of $1.5 billion.  With a “b.”

    Maybe there has been a winner, or winners. Maybe it was you. If so, please send me an email to the address below. If not, read on.

    It’s fun to get caught up in the “what if” frenzy that’s sweeping the country, and to imagine what you’d do with all that money.

  •  By John Nelson

    Ancient and very beautiful, a plant group that has always fascinated humans: the ferns.

  • Martin Luther King Jr. was born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia.

    He delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech Aug. 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

    He was assassinated at 39 while rallying on behalf of black workers on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.

    During the month of what would have been his 87th birthday, area events will once again celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is officially observed this year Monday, Jan. 18.

  • The next best thing to the Bee Gees is a Bee Gees tribute.

    That’s just what’s happening on the main stage of Odell Williamson Auditorium at Brunswick Community College, where “Night Fever: An Evening of the Bee Gees,” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21.

  • Wine from France, Italy, Spain, and Argentina and food from one of the finest restaurants in the area will highlight an evening to help further the cause of literacy.

    The Brunswick County Literacy Council is hosting a Wine and Dine experience at 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, at La Cucina Italian Grill at 1780 Chandlers Lane, No. 11, in Sunset Beach.

  •  A new scientific study published in Nature concludes dogs will share treats with other dogs, even if it means giving up their own goodies. Austrian researchers evaluated “pro-social” behaviors of dogs and found, to their surprise, that dogs offered goodwill gestures toward other dogs, especially if it was a familiar pooch. This study will help veterinarians and pet owners better understand canine behavior and makes me wonder how much my two dogs really like each other.


  •  Good news for all you New Year’s resolution makers,or those of you who set any goals for 2016.


    If you’ve kept up your commitments to this point, you only have one more weekto beat the odds of keeping them.


    That’s right: If you can make it past Jan. 17, you’ll have beaten the national average! I’ve remembered this date ever since fitness expert Cindy Boggs relayed it to me a few years ago.


    Tick tock




    By John Nelson

    “Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath, no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does.”— George Bernard Shaw, 1903


    This is the leaf of a very strong oak, and there is one of these growing in my front yard here in Columbia, S.C. It’s a wonderful tree, must be 70 feet tall, with a rounded, spreading crown. The trunk has a circumference of 9.5 feet, and a diameter of about 3 feet, or so (d = c/π, as I recall).

  • Silver Coast Winery is showcasing the work of artist Niki Hildebrand.

    Born in London, England, Hildebrand lived and worked in Belfast in Northern Ireland before moving to Wilmington.

    Her portfolio spans ideas of “memory, collective consciousness, humans and transience of what we don’t see and their connections.”

    Engaged by the human condition, her work captures sensory parts of existence, creating a play between solid visuals and indefinable matter.

  • For the past six years, Shallotte has enjoyed its own celestial venue for convivial pursuits.

    Launching into its seventh year for 2016, Planet Fun, at 349 Whiteville Road, is Brunswick County’s largest entertainment center and an especially cool (and warm) place to be this winter.

    Highlights in the 50,000-square-foot entertainment center, beside Lowe’s Home Improvement, include 32 lanes of constellation bowling, two-story laser tag and bumper cars arenas, a bounce house and arcade, party rooms, a concession stand and a pro shop.

  •   By John Nelson

    Shocking, vile, outrageous, repellent, bizarre or just plain gross —take your pick of any number of adjectives for this thing. The scientific name may be translated as "disgusting" and "red."


    By Linda Arnold

    I need to exercise more.  I need to cut down on sugar and alcohol.  I need to be more patient.  Why can’t I stay committed?

    If you find similar thoughts swirling in your head, you’re not alone. Whatever the category is, the feedback loop is the same. You know certain things are good for you, yet you resist them.

    Familiar excuses

  •       Congratulations! Many families woke up Christmas morning with a package of furry joy underneath their tree. Sharing your home with a new puppy is one of the most exciting — and rewarding — relationships you’ll ever experience. To help you and your new bundle of bliss establish a lifetime of healthy habits, I’ve assembled my top reasons a puppy’s best friend is your family veterinarian.

    1. Just because a puppy looks healthy doesn’t mean he can’t be sick.

  • If your new year’s resolutions include participating in programs to learn more about our community and our world, the Museum of Coastal Carolina, Ingram Planetarium, Battleship North Carolina and the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher offer some of your best bets beginning in January.

    And if another goal in 2016 is to save money, many of the programs offered at these local attractions are priced for the budget-conscious, in addition to being family-friendly.

    Museum of Coastal Carolina

  • By Jack DeGroot

    Special to the Beacon

    Customers often come into the bookstore where I work asking for a history book on Ocean Isle Beach — so many over the last few years that it seemed a shame that there was no longer one in print.

    Judging by all the history books major publishers are churning out and their popularity with the masses, readers throughout the country are experiencing a thirst for knowledge about times past.

  • After a sellout performance in 2015, Pete and Maura Kennedy will make their third Listen Up Brunswick County appearance in the series’ first concert for the new year, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9, at the Brunswick Community College Event Center in Brunswick Community College’s Odell Williamson Building

  • Just a few years ago, Aubrey and Mandy Faatz were hobnobbing with stardom in Nashville.

    It all came about because of hard times, when the country’s economic slump spurred the Shallotte couple to move with their three small children in search of work and better times to Music City U.S.A.

    Lorie Burcham, Mandy’s older sister, had already found a niche in Nashville, where she had moved a few years earlier to launch her specialty cake-baking business that had started in Shallotte and even led to her competing on the Food Network Challenge.

  • The Robert Ruark Society will celebrate native author Robert Ruark from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29, at the Robert Ruark Inn, 119 N. Lord St. in Southport.

    Ruark’s talents will be showcased, discussed and remembered at the event, which includes a tour of the inn. Light appetizers and sweets will be served.

    Ruark grew up in Southport, going on to achieve international fame and wealth sharing his memories and experiences of his early years.

  • New Year’s Eve parties abound Dec. 31.

    The town of Calabash is having its fifth annual New Year’s Eve Bonfire from 8:30 p.m. to midnight in the Hurricane Fishing Fleet parking lot at 9975 Nance St. on the Calabash Riverfront.

    Entertainment this year will consist of the “Mr. Fifties Show,” a 1950s “retro-rockin’ ” dance and revue performing the songs of Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Ritchie Valens, the Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash and Little Richard, to mention a few.