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October is the month that brings out the poet in everyone. Beginning with that big "O" that looks like a harvest moon, the month fulfills its promise through weeks of brilliant color before cold weather sets in. No one can ignore the beautiful weather, the changing leaves or the fall wildflowers. The whole month is a feast for the senses, as well as for the mind. This edition of Casa taps into that introspective energy.

That autumnal glory shines through L.D. Russell's essay about setting up a uniquely nurturing environment for himself--in an apartment in a Buddhist monastery, where meditation is more or less the order of the day. Finding himself single again in middle age has inspired Russell to seek greater self-knowledge than ever before, and he tells us how the objects with which he has chosen to surround himself are contributing to that intensely personal spiritual journey.

Kate Dobbs Ariail, The Indy's art critic, paid a visit to Ayr Mount and brought back a lyrical description of this historic Hillsborough home. Built by a Scottish merchant, William Kirkland, for his burgeoning family, Ayr Mount sheltered Kirkland's 14 children and many subsequent descendants until 1971. Restored to its original elegance, the house is now open to the public for guided tours, and the Poet's Walk, a path down to the Eno River, is a perfect destination for a leisurely afternoon stroll.

Zach Hoskins takes us on a field trip to talk to a couple of Triangle homeowners whose home is sited and designed to take advantage of solar energy. They're sold on its cost-saving aspects and pleased with the comfort they've achieved. Furthermore, Hoskins shares tips on utilizing solar energy even if your home is not designed to be solar.

In Angela Williams' story, you'll meet Sonja Rünar, a former interior decorator who spends her days advising people on how to banish clutter and realign the energy in their homes, utilizing the principles of feng shui. Williams discovered that according to Rünar's assessment of her living space, she was already doing a lot of things right; she also learned how she could make her home even more responsive to her needs, and you may pick up some tips as well.

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