Thursday, December 07, 2006

Mojo Mom Picks: 12 great things about North Carolina

I adore my adopted home state. I was talking to my husband this morning about what makes North Carolina special. He sees a culture of connectedness, which I think is a great way to put it. Michael said, "Other places I've lived, like New York and California, are places to go to school or work, but North Carolina is a place to put down roots and call home. New York has ionic bonds and North Carolina has covalent bonds." Much to our delight, we have been embraced by our Chapel Hill community as transplanted North Carolinians.

This is not to take away from any other state, as I would have been happy to live the rest of my life in California. I moved to North Carolina not expecting to stay, and yet I've fallen in love over the past six years. I've pulled together a list of a dozen Mojo Mom Picks for great things about North Carolina. These are people, places or organizations I would not have known about if I hadn't lived here. I have enjoyed most of these picks for at least two years, and I am organizing the list in order of how frequently I encounter them in daily life. These are unsolicited testimonials for people who are fantastic at what they do and deserve a shout-out of appreciation. Even if you don't live in North Carolina, you might enjoy seeing what makes life special here, and think about the people in your hometown who would love to hear a "thank-you" from you.

La Vita Dolce coffeehouse. This family-owned and operated cafe helps me start each day. The know to fire up a 3-shot grande toasted marshmallow latte as soon as they see me walking in the door.

North Carolina Public Radio, WUNC. Our public radio station is building upon their statewide success with the launch of the national program, The Story with Dick Gordon which you can listen to by podcast.

Montessori education. I have become a true Montessori enthusiast. I know that Montessori education is a global movement, but I may not have learned about it if we hadn't been living here. I am proud that North Carolina has public as well as private Montessori schools. In my 10-year life plan I am committed to finding a way to become inolved as a Montessori advocate. I believe that public Montessori starting at age 3 would go a long way toward solving our country's educational crisis and childcare crisis. For a scientific review that validates the basis of this educational system, read Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard, Ph. D.

Carolina Web Solutions. My talented webmaster Patty Ayers provides some of the best service I have ever encountered. She's a gem. I've received a lot of compliments on her design of my website. She also created my smaller sites and I count Patty as a local treasure but she can work with clients worldwide through the magic of the internet.

Meadowsweet Gardens. I have to praise our local gardening experts. Their service and expertise are inspirational. They literally design and shape our North Carolina landscape.

Barbara Connor of Compassionate Acupuncture. I've had acupuncture for over 12 years, from many talented pracitioners in California and North Carolina. Barbara Connor is among the best. She uses a combination of craniosacral massage and acupuncture that is very powerful. She has a great sense for the body.

Chatham Marketplace Co-Op grocery. This community-owned store opened in Pittsboro this year after a massive grassroots effort to get it off the ground. They feature local produce whenever possible. Their sandwiches are awesome, and I have special appreciation for their catering operation, which does a fantastic job. Yum!

A Southern Season. Heaven sent treats for gourmet taste-buds and gift-givers. This store helps elevate our local University Mall into destination shopping. They do a booming online catalog business as well.

Duke Continuing Studies. Grownups need learning opportunites, too! Duke's short courses helped me get my writing mojo flowing when I was home with a toddler. I could still get out for a weekly screenwriting course or improvisational comedy session.

Carolina Basketball. The sports institution that fosters loyalty through excellence as well as the rivalry with Duke basketball.

The Grove Park Inn and Spa. The century-old arts and crafts style Inn looks like it was built by Hobbits on steroids. It's a wonderful mountain retreat in Asheville, with a truly amazing five-star Spa. The Spa reminds me of the luxury of Hearst Castle in California. Touring Hearst Castle, I always wanted to jump into their pool. At The Grove Park Inn Spa, you can! I love to visit Asheville in July during The Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands.

Blue Ridge Parkway. In the fall, there is nothing like driving through a tunnel of fiery trees and appreciating the mountain vistas of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway is a destination in itself.


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