Category Archives: Articles about Highlands and Cashiers NC

Cat’s Best Kept Secret in Cashiers NC

Hidden in a grassy cove deep in a Blue Ridge valley, lies a secret place any stray cat, or one surrendered by its owner, would be lucky to find.

Known as the “Catman2 Inc., Cats-Only Shelter, Adoption Center and Sanctuary,” this rare facility is the only, animal shelter in Western North Carolina devoted to the sole care of cats.

Its mission statement bars ever sheltering dogs within hearing distance of the cats. It is a place where a cat can relax. During the past 10 years, more than 2,000 cats have enjoyed the security and comfort of this shelter.

The few not lucky enough to be adopted have a safe haven until, through the ravages of age,  no longer enjoy a quality of life worth living then and only then is a cat euthanized with the blessing of our staff and the shelter’s veterinarian.

Today more than 75 cats enjoy the comforts of home as they await that special person that will come to adopt them.

What makes Catman2 unique is that it was not conceived or built by a group of people, but was built by a retired junior college biology professor who didn’t have the wildest idea of having a second career when he left his teaching job after 22 years.

The seed that produced Catman2 had been sown by a chance encounter when this retired teacher volunteered at a local animal shelter. Most of this time was spent doing odd jobs. But between them he spent time hanging out in the cat adoption area. There he found pleasure in matching cats with people looking to adopt a feline friend and a dream to help cats was born.

After moving to North Carolina, he tried volunteering with local animal shelters only to learn that, at most, they kept only an enough cats to satisfy the few cat lovers who donated money on their behalf. Almost all animal shelters had 90 percent dog and 10 percent cat.

When he told people his dream was to build a cat’s only shelter it was suggested he go back to Florida and he was informed that this was dog country and the only cats people wanted here were barn cats.

In 2000 he invested a portion of his retirement savings, found a retired building contractor, and two years later opened the 4,000 square-foot building known as The Catman2 Shelter, a shelter without cages, an abode where cats live in a home-like environment with beds to sleep in and spacious indoor covered enclosures.

It is a paradise for cats of all ages and the realization of a dream for Harold Sims, now known as The Catman. For more information about this shelter and its happy cats, visit


Sip and Stroll

Saturday, November 10th  |  11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Last year’s Sip & Stroll was a huge success. We recommended tickets be purchased in advance.

Experience the wares of of Highlands’ fine shops, while tasting and enjoying a selection of wine & delightful edibles. Each stroller will start at the Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center to receive a detailed map and their own souvenir wine glass with special carry bag. There will be a limit of 12 merchants this year which will encourage everyone to linger awhile longer and enjoy the homemade hors d’oeuvres, cheeses, and of course the wonderful selections of wines. There’s also an added bonus to visiting each merchant on the map. Strollers having completed the tour will be eligible for wonderful prizes including fine dining certificates, pottery and specialty wines. Sip, Stroll and Shop till you drop while enjoying everything fabulous in our beautiful downtown of Highlands.

Price: $35 per person. Can be purchased online at or by calling 1 (866) 526-5841.

Participating merchants include: 4th Street Boutique, Acorn’s and Acorn on Church, Alyxandra’s Boutique, CK Swan, The Christmas Tree on Main, Drake’s Diamond Gallery, The Hen House, Highlands Fine Art and Estate Jewelry, Highland Hiker Shoes, Mountain Fresh Grocery, Oakleaf Flower and Garden, Spa Boutique at Old Edwards Inn, TJ Baileys, To the Nines, Vivace and Xtreme Threads.

Sixth Annual Culinary Weekend

Fall in Highlands has never looked better as we celebrate the Sixth Annual Highlands Culinary Weekend. This 4-day destination event, created by the Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center, promises to be one of the highlights of the season. Join us as we embrace Highlands’ majestic mountain location, boundless activities, appealing accommodations, unique retail shops & extraordinary cuisine.

The weekend gains momentum with the not to be missed Opening Night Celebration, Thursday, November 8th, held at the esteemed Highlands Country Clubhouse. Beginning at 7:00 p.m., enjoy great music, a variety of wine tasting tables, and the delectable cuisine of Highlands’ local chefs. Throughout the weekend, fill you itineraries with an array of activities, cooking demonstrations, tastings and dinners hosted by area restaurants, merchants and accommodations. Plan to attend the annual Sip & Stroll, Saturday, November 10th from 11:00 a.m. –  5:00 p.m. in our beautiful downtown area. It’s impressive to see the creativity that goes into Highlands Culinary Weekend. This event has evolved and continues to grow with each new season. It’s truly a wonderful experience to see a community come together for this celebration of Highlands. We invite you to be a part of this grand affair.


The Opening Night Gala Celebration will once again be held at the esteemed Clubhouse of Highlands Country Club on Thursday, November 8th. Beginning at 7:00 p.m. sip, swirl and savor fine wines and craft beers while enjoying the delectable cuisines of Highlands’ local chefs. Enjoy live music and visual arts from local artists Virginia Parrot & Patty Calderone. This entire experience will be a chance to embrace culinary delight under one roof in the beautiful mountains of Highlands. Taste a must- have wine? Mountain Fresh Grocery will be on hand at Opening Night to take your orders and arrange for delivery. Shuttle service will be provided from Highlands Recreation Park and Highlands Plaza to the Clubhouse at Highlands Country Club. Please utilize shuttle service for this event, as parking on site will be limited. 7:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at or by calling 1 (866) 526-5841.

Friday, November 9th Events:

Event Name: “Eating and Drinking Tuscany” Cooking Class

Event Description: We will prepare iconic Tuscan food such as Crema Paradiso,  White truffle omelet, Pinzinmonio and Crispelle alla Fiorentina and drink Chianti Classico and modern Sangiovese blends.

Venue: Cyprus Open Kitchen
(828) 526-4429

Time: 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Price: $100 per person

Event Name: Farm Harvest Celebration and Barn Dance

Event Description: Fling open the barn doors and step back in time for a kicked-up version of an old mountain barn dance—Old Edwards Style. It’s a full-on evening of authentic mountain culture with farm-fresh bounty prepared live and served harvest style.  Sip craft beer and selected wines to whet your whistle for the lively band “Back Porch Orchestra.”

Venue: The Farm at Old Edwards Inn (828) 787-2625

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Price: $125 per person

Event Name: Schug Soiree at Lakeside Restaurant

Event Description: Join Lakeside Restaurant and California’s most celebrated winemakers, Schug Carneros Estate Winery with special guest Axel Schug. Join us as we pair five courses of fabulous cuisine with the fine wines of Schug.

Venue: Lakeside Restaurant

(828) 526-9419

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Price: $125 plus tax and gratuity

Event Name: Craft 2 Table

Event Description: Bringing you the absolute best and hard-to-find in American Craft beers with Food Native to that Region. Great Food, Great Beer, Unforgettable Experience!

Venue: Ruka’s Table

(828) 526-3636

Time: 6:30pm

Price: $60 per person

Event Name: Lambert Bridge, Flavor Spectrum with Andy Wilcox

Event Description: Lambert Bridge wine and food tasting brought to the “nth” degree…

Venue: Wolfgang’s Restaurant
& Wine Bistro
(828) 526-3807

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Price: $95 plus tax and gratuity

Event Name: CADE/Plumjack Wine Dinner

Event Description: Join …on the Verandah as they host a wine dinner featuring the extraordinary, award winning wines of Napa Valleys, CADE and Plumjack.

Venue: …on the Verandah

(828) 526-2338

Time: Call for details

Price: Call for details

Event Name: Viva la France Dinner

Event Description: The Inn at Half Mile Farm is pleased to be partnering with Rosewood Market and Steve Pignatiello from Pignatiello Wine Importers. Extraordinary chefs from Rosewood Market will be preparing a fabulous multi-course French dinner; each course paired with one of the fine French wines, personally selected by sommelier, Steve Pignatiello.

Venue: Inn at Half Mile Farm
1 (800) 946-6822

Time: Wine & Hors d’oeuvres at 6:30 p.m., with Vive la France dinner at 7:00 p.m.

Price: $100 per person, plus tax & gratuity

Event Name: The Ugly Dog Pub Late Night Hang Out

Event Description: Join your friends at The Ugly Dog Pub for live music, seasonal cocktails & local beers.

Venue: The Ugly Dog Pub
(828) 526-8364

Saturday, November 10th Events: 

Event Name: MollyDooker Shake Up Part Two!

Event Description: Lakeside Restaurant is thrilled to once again feature the Australian wines of Sarah & Sparky Marquis, Mollydooker! Join Chef Marty Rosenfield and the Lakeside staff as they present, “The Mollydooker Shake.” Enjoy a remarkable five-course dinner paired with Mollydooker wines that promise to “Wow!”

Venue: Lakeside Restaurant

(828) 526-9419

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Price: $150 plus tax and gratuity

Event Name: Island Fever

Event Description: Caribbean Cowboys will be playing. There will be a wine tasting on the patio. Come dance, come have a great time!

Venue: Highlands Playhouse
(828) 526-2695

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Price: $15.00 per person

Event Name: Silver Oak Cellars & Twomey Wine Dinner “Life is a Cabernet!”

Event Description: We will be featuring Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars. Join us for a night of culinary memories and divine libations. It will be night to remember!

Venue: Wolfgang’s Restaurant & Wine Bistro

(828) 526-3807

Time: 7:00 p.m. Champagne & Appetizers, 7:30 p.m. Dinner

Price: $160 plus tax and gratuity

Event Name: Chefs Limited Menu: “Chillin with Nonya”  A five-course menu of Sino-Malay rustic cooking from the straights of Malaca.

Event Description: This is a fun and easy-going exploration of coastal

Singapore and Malysian food which has been heavily influenced over the centuries by mixing with Chinese traders.

“Lots of Chilis, Shallots, Lemongrass, and Coconut”

Venue: Cyprus Open Kitchen

(828) 526-4429

Time: Reservations from 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Price: $69 per person

Event Name: Whitehall Lane Wine Dinner

Event Description: Join Chef Andrew Figel for a special evening featuring the wines of Whitehall Lane Winery.

Venue: …on the Verandah

(828) 526-2338

Time: Call for details

Price: Call for details

Event Name: The Ugly Dog Pub Late Night Hang Out

Event Description: Join your friends at The Ugly Dog Pub for live music, seasonal cocktails & local beers.

Venue: The Ugly Dog Pub

(828) 526-8364

The Holiday Alternative Gift Market

The Holiday Gift Market is a fun way to snag an unforgettable gift for a loved one and share a bit of Christmas Cheer with the needy of this world.

The Christmas season beckons each one of us to share our bounty with those less fortunate.

We may have been pinching pennies, clipping coupons, and we may have even delayed purchases that were more “want than need.” No matter how hard times have been, Christmas is a time to give to others as a way of saying, “Thank you Lord for all of
our blessings.”

Perhaps you have a list of family and friends that you would like to remember with a gift. You’ve struggled to identify that “perfect gift” for each and every one there.

Your Dad has more ties than he can possibly wear. Your sister has her own distinctive style that you just can’t figure out. Why buy something that will just get put into a drawer or will be returned the day after Christmas?

Come to the Holiday Gift Market. Visit the booths of local non-profits and familiarize yourself with their missions and objectives. A contribution to any non-profits will make the perfect gift for everyone on your gift list.

The Market will be held immediately following the Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas Parade from 11:45 a.m. to  4:00 p.m. Saturday, December 1st, at Highlands United Methodist Church, 315 Main Street. There are 14 charitable agencies participating in this year’s Market.

Come out, enjoy a light lunch and share your blessings with others who need a
helping hand.

Area charities supported by the Alternative Gift Market are Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Highlands; Blue Ridge Dental Clinic; Bosnia Mission; Community Care Clinic of Highlands-Cashiers; Food Pantry of Highlands; Four Seasons Hospice; Haiti Mission; Highlands Bolivian Mission; Highlands Bolivian Water Mission; Highlands Community Child Development Center; Highlands Emergency Council; International Friendship Center; Literacy Council and REACH of Macon County.

For more information, call (828) 526-3376.

Highlands Christmas Parade

Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas Parade launches the holiday season with a healthy dose of small town cheer.

If you’re one of those who bemoans the commercialization of Christmas and longs for a simpler celebration of the season, mark your calendar for 11:00 a.m. Saturday, December 1st.

That’s when the 23rd incarnation of the Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas Parade winds down Main Street.

The parade is the perfect tonic for the overblown, incredibly polished corporate exercises staged in other parts of the country. There’s a warm, homemade feel to the Highlands parade since it’s staged entirely by local groups, churches, businesses, fire departments and bands of neighbors. It’s all delivered with pride, sparkle and more than a little bit of humor.

You’ll find handmade floats, at least one marching band, dancing garden ladies, dogs that amble more or less in formation, fire trucks, Smokey the Bear, classic cars, horses, the Highlands High School Homecoming Court,  local politicians, and, of course, Santa. It’s not uncommon for the parade to draw over 80 entries. That’s a remarkable accomplishment for a town with a year-round population of less than 2,000.

People begin lining Main Street early to ensure they get a good view and to chat with neighbors and visitors. The parade route spans three blocks, so there should be plenty of room for everyone.

If you are part of a group that would like to be included in the lineup, contact the Highlands Chamber of Commerce at (828) 526-2112. There is no entrance fee. If you’re thinking of inviting Santa to participate in your entry, please note that he’s already accepted the Chamber’s invitation to appear in the parade. He’ll also be at the Visitor Center immediately after the parade until 3:00 p.m.

by Luke Osteen


Photos with Santa

Santa is on hand in Highlands to hear every whispered wish and heartfelt appeal for clemency.

Now that the holiday season is here, a lot of kids and more than a few adults are taking stock of their lives and making adjustments.

Others are compiling lists of things needed and desired, the fruits of a year’s worth of good behavior.

Whichever camp they fall in, they’re counting the days until Santa Claus arrives at The Highlands Visitor Center.

Even in the hectic days leading up to Christmas, Santa manages to find time to sit and listen to his friends and Highlands has long been one of his favorite spots. According to insider accounts, the clean mountain air helps him maintain his unfailingly cheerful air, which makes Highlands one of the ideal spots to ask for an especially unlikely present or to appeal for clemency.

You’ll find the Jolly Old Guy at the Highlands Visitor Center on Main Street (next to the Main Street Inn) from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Friday, November 23rd, and Saturdays – November 24th, December 1st, 8th, and 15th. He’ll also be available by appointment on Saturday, December 22nd.

Mike Wilson of High Country Photo will be on hand to capture a cherished memory.

Santa will also be seen at the Town Tree Lighting, set for November 24th; and the Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas Parade, December 1st.

If you’re so inclined, you can bring a treat for Santa or his reindeer. But really, none of that is necessary. He packs on the snacks in those few hours before dawn on Christmas morning and the reindeer are confined to a high-carb sprinter’s diet in the weeks leading up to the Big Night.

If you have questions about Santa’s busy schedule or the events that mark Highlands’ Holiday Season – the Town Tree Lighting, the  Olde Mountain Christmas Parade, the worship schedules of local churches – contact the Highlands Visitor Center at (828) 526-2112.

An Appalachian Christmas

For 18 seasons, the Highlands Community Christian Chorale has been celebrating the beauty of the season with a variety of traditional carols, classical liturgical choral pieces and even some lighter holiday fare.

This year’s performance will feature songs that are truly regional in nature. “An Appalachian Christmas” is a cantata featuring choral and instrumental arrangements by Les Scott, Minister of Music at Highlands United Methodist Church.

The piece was inspired by the widowed matron of the Eller Family, a family which has preserved many folk songs of the region near Hiawassee, Georgia. Even though she had raised eight hardy youngsters, she was known to all as “Miss Loethe,” a songwriter in her own right. “An Appalachian Christmas” was cobbled together from songs and accompanying readings rich in Appalachian history and culture – from pioneer days until the present, from Virginia
to Georgia.

Some of these songs, such as the reflective “Remember O Thou Man,” or the charming “Cherry Tree Carol,” are as ancient as medieval times, brought here from Europe by the first pioneers. Others, such as Jean Ritchie’s “Holly Tree Carol,” are as recent as the 1990’s, but reflect old-time Appalachian style.

All the music comes from reliable sources — from notable folk music collectors such as John Jacob Niles, the famed Kentucky folklorist; Art Rosenbaum, professor of folklore at the University of Georgia; and the singing traditions of Appalachian families. An ensemble of Appalachian instruments – guitars, fiddles, banjos, and dulcimers as well as piano – will accompany the Chorale.”

The Chorale consists of singers from seven different churches in the Highlands and Cashiers areas who come together each year to bring this ecumenical event to Highlands. Performance dates are 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, December 8th and 9th at Highlands United Methodist Church. Admission is free. A reception follows the
Sunday performance.

The church is located at 315 Main Street. Because of its popularity, you should plan to arrive at the concert early. For more information, call (828) 526-3376.

by Wiley Sloan

Highlands Tree Lighting

With a heady mixture of song, holiday cheer and more than a little good humor, the Highlands Tree Lighting sets the tone for a small town Christmas season.

OK, it’s two days after Thanksgiving. You’ve spent two days catching up with family and  friends or working off Thanksgiving Dinner with a marathon round of Extreme Shopping, but it just doesn’t feel like Christmas is less than a month away.

That’s why you’ll want to remember the Highlands Downtown Tree Lighting, slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, November 24th, in front of Highlands United Methodist Church. It’s a party unlike anything else on the town’s social calendar. People of every age join in the fun. In fact, some folks drive all the way up from Atlanta
to participate.

The celebration starts with caroling that everyone’s invited to join. A small ceremony features readings from the Bible and storytelling. Cookies and hot chocolate are the perfect complement for a frosty evening. Santa will be on hand to hear wishes and appeals.

The evening’s capped by the lighting of the enormous tree that graces the front lawn of the Methodist Church. It all adds up to a warm holiday tradition that’s cherished by young and old.

To prepare for the crowds, Main Street will be closed between Second and Fourth streets beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Artists’ Marketplace

Looking for a gift that’s deeply personal and absolutely one-of-a-kind? Visit The Bascom’s Artists’ Marketplace, November 23rd and 24th, at The Bascom’s Studio Barn, 323 Franklin Road in Highlands.

Want to buy personal hand-crafted gifts for people you care about, without getting overwhelmed or exhausted by holiday shopping? This year why not avoid long lines and parking-lot chaos and become a pampered shopper at The Bascom’s Artists’ Marketplace?

Regional artists whose work you have grown to love and trust have been working hard all year to bring you their finest creations in jewelry, pottery, fiber art, wood-turning, and lamps, along with a huge assortment of other fine decorative art and craft.

The Artists’ Marketplace has become a holiday tradition in Highlands, a place where smart shoppers can take advantage of one-stop shopping, affordable prices, and unique, one-of-a-kind finds. Gift cards are okay, but the true art of gift-giving is in hand-selecting a heart-to-heart gift. Think of the true meaning of the season and imagine the Three Wise Men offering a gift certificate for an aromatic bar. Just not the same. Giving a personal and meaningful gift keeps the art in heart.

So join your friends at The Bascom’s studio barn November 23rd and 24th, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and find the perfect gift to brighten a corner or warm a heart or make someone’s day, week and year. It’s what giving is all about.


Breakfast with Santa

Santa always has time to listen to his most ardent supporters.

Remember back to your childhood and you’ll understand the excitement that area youngsters feel as the time draws near for Breakfast with Santa at the Highlands United Methodist Church (HUMC) at 315 Main Street.   Yes, the children see Santa around our area several times during the holiday season but during Breakfast with Santa, they get to visit with him, up-close and personal.  Santa told me, “This is one of my favorite times of year. I truly enjoy talking with the youngsters and hearing their wish lists.”

Get up a little early on Saturday, December 8th, dress the youngsters in a festive holiday outfit and come on down to the Fellowship Hall of the Church.  Everyone will get a chance to enjoy a delicious, hot breakfast, and the children will complete a holiday craft. There will be time to listen attentively as you hear one of your favorite holiday stories.  Before you know it, you’ll hear the hooves of reindeer in the distance, then the jingle of sleigh bells will fill the air as Santa makes his way to the Church.  Sing your favorite carols and get into the Christmas spirit.

Celebration of the Christmas season is the perfect way to build family traditions. Join other parents and grandparents from throughout the community for this special Christmas event.   Breakfast is served from 8:30 a.m. until 10:00 a.m.  The suggested donation is $10 per family. Reservations should be made by calling the Church no later than Wednesday, December 5th at (828) 526-3376.

Jennifer Forrester, Minister of Children’s Activities at HUMC says, “The children will have plenty of time to share their Christmas list with Santa and to have pictures made.  Make your reservations early and come out for a stellar holiday celebration with Santa.”

by Wiley Sloan

Christmas On The Green

The Village Green will make spirits bright this holiday season with “Christmas On the Green.” Visitors to the 12.5 acre park will enjoy twinkling light displays and festive decorations from Thanksgiving weekend until January 1st, 2013. One of the highlights of “Christmas On the Green” will be a Festival of Trees. “The Festival of Trees celebrates one of the area’s greatest industries and showcases our local businesses,” says Village Green Executive Director Ann Self. After the holiday season, the evergreen trees will be planted in The Village Green for continued enjoyment.

“Christmas On the Green” begins on Friday, November 23rd with a visit from Santa Claus. The Greater Cashiers Area Merchants Association again will sponsor “Santa on the Green,” an opportunity for children of all ages to visit with Santa. “Every year it fills me with joy to see the magical look in the kids’ eyes when they meet Santa,” says Robin Ashmore, President of GCAMA. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be at the Gazebo from Noon until 3:00 p.m. that day. Later on that evening will be the Cashiers Christmas Tree Lighting from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. This will be the first chance to view The Village Green trimmed with a multitude of Christmas lights. Listen to holiday melodies, sing along with Christmas carolers and warm up around the fire pit for S’Mores and More as the switch gets turned on to light the Cashiers Christmas Tree.

“Christmas On the Green,” will transform the heart of Cashiers into a winter wonderland where friends and family can gather to celebrate the holidays. Self comments, “We hope everyone will come discover a marvelous new Christmas tradition for the community. Whether it is taking holiday photos or a stroll through the decorative paths, a visit to The Village Green will certainly brighten your Christmas spirit.” Jochen Lucke, Village Green Board Chair, adds “This is just one of the many events that The Village Green offers for the greater enjoyment of residents and guests to the Highlands Cashiers Plateau.”

The Village Green is located at the crossroads of Highway 64 and Highway 107 in Cashiers. Parking is available at the entrance near the Gazebo, off of Highway 64 East, and at the entrance to Village Commons on Frank Allen Road in Cashiers. Follow The Village Green on Twitter @cashiersgreen.

Cashiers Cares

Cashiers Cares is a celebration of the generous heart at the center of community life.

Think of it as an umbrella over Cashiers, sort of a local United Way.

Cashiers Cares is a way for your family to make a charitable donation to the charity of your choice, where your donation will be used to care for your neighbors and friends here in Southern Jackson County.

Put on your Christmas smiles, earmuffs, and mittens and gather on Saturday, December 8th, for the annual Cashiers Christmas Parade, free Rotary hot dog lunch, pictures with Santa and Cashiers Cares.

Cashiers Cares will be staged immediately following the parade at Cashiers Community Center (next to the fire station).

Sponsored locally by Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Saint Jude Catholic Church, United Methodist Church, Grace Community, and Baptist Church of Cashiers, Cashiers Cares will have booths set up for each of the charitable agencies supported by Cashiers Cares.

Please visit the booths and learn what it is each agency does, who benefits, and make a decision where your family would like your contribution to go. Information booths will be in place for Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society, Christmas House of Jackson County, Cashiers United Christian Ministries, Clean Slate Coalition, Community Care Clinic, and Fishes and Loaves Food Pantry. Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic, Haven of Rest Ministries, Life Challenge of Western NC, and the Literacy Council of Cashiers are also represented.

Cashiers Cares Christmas Cards will be on sale. These cards were created by students at Blue Ridge School and Summit Charter School.

Join us for a fun and worthwhile family day, the kind that makes Cashiers a special place to live.

Contributed by Deanna Klingel

A Tale of Three Camels

Spectators at the 2006 Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas Parade couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

There in the distance behind the dancing ladies of the Mountain Garden Club and the vintage Thunderbirds was a trio of camels.

Far from the sands of the desert were Omar, Noel, and Summer being led, naturally, by the Three Wise Men as they searched for the King.

The camels were visiting Highlands at the request of members of the Highlands United Methodist Church.

In the run-up to the Holiday Season, church members Sherry Janes and Gay Kattel were looking for unique ways to add new members to the congregation. They remembered how, as children, they were enthralled with the camels in the Christmas story.  Bolstered by these long-ago memories, Sherry set out to track down camels for the parade.

A long search led her to Beau and Michelle Kaye of Danielsville, Georgia. The Kayes’ 117-acre farm boasted a collection of goats, sheep, dogs, fallow deer, American Bison, a zebra named Zoë, and fortunately for this story,
several camels.

“Sherry was so gracious but tenacious – she convinced me that we needed to come to Highlands,” remembers Michelle. “I really try to limit the number of events for the camels because they truly are ‘just our pets,’ but this sounded like such a worthwhile event.”

“One visit to Highlands and we were enthralled with the beauty of the area and the friendliness of all the people,” says Beau.

With the Kayes onboard and the camels on the calendar, Sherry and the entire HUMC Igniting Ministries Team set out to recruit the cast of actors/actresses and prepare the costumes for the parade.

Omar, the sole male, weighed in at more than 3,000 pounds. He wanted to be in charge. The ladies were genteel and much less headstrong.

The camels were such a hit at the parade that they have become a mainstay for every parade for the past six years.

You’ll find them striding down Main Street in the midst of the 2012 Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas Parade, set for 11:00 a.m. Saturday, December 1st.

by Wiley Sloan

Cover Artist Danielle Warth

Bob Dylan once said, “The songs are out there, floating in the air… just floating in the air waiting for a hand to reach out and grab them.” Danielle Warth shares this belief, for she paints visual songs, and she has plenty of help grabbing the inspiration. Her muse is a kind of cosmic curator of the artistic ether and keeps her supplied with beautiful figurative images. Warth says, “When I work, it’s as if I see an image and have to get it out. It’s like an itch and the only way to scratch it is to start painting immediately. I have a finite amount of time to do so before the image in my head gets fuzzy.”

The art world equates aesthetics/beauty with the female form. Couple that with the insight that artists, no matter what their work’s content, are constantly generating a self-commentary, a personal portrait. The human figure, bare and vulnerable is an icon for self-awareness, discovery, and openness. Warth says, “My paintings are essentially an autobiography. I feel so naked and raw, so exposed when I share my artwork. Like someone is staring straight into my soul. I think that is why I enjoy painting nudes so much.  I would like to believe that I am able to convey that vulnerability that I also feel without exploiting the subject.”

Warth likes working in oils. It gives her time to push the paint, reflect, fine-tune. She is fascinated with the small muscles in the human face. She says, “With the slightest turn of the mouth and the fine muscles around the eye, the feeling can quickly go from ecstasy to fear. Or a smile can turn into disappointment.”

When asked how Warth imagines other people perceive her work she replies, “I believe when people are brave enough to share their vulnerabilities, which are then met with the commonality of another individual, that’s when the magic happens. Throughout all art forms, the truly divine moments are when someone is able to convey a thought or emotion in a way that no one else has been able to express it.  As I continue to explore my own artistic journey I hope that viewers will also experience a moment of the divine.”

While Warth is not currently showing her work in galleries she is very active in her field of Interior Design for which she received a bachelors degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Her expertise in decor is amplified by her strength as a visual artist. A strong sense of color, form, line, shape, and texture is second nature to her. She is equally at home designing a superb interior as she is grabbing a superb image floating in the air and giving it life.

To learn more about her process, her painting, and her design concepts contact her at or (828) 526-4929.

by Donna Rhodes

The Art of Aaron Shufelt

Aaron Shufelt’s playful pumpkins are a perfect blend of molten sand, an artist’s unfailing eye and a surgeon’s unwavering steadiness.

A dangling gobbet of molten silicate, like a red-hot bite of lava, rolls on one end of a long metal rod. Aaron Shufelt stands at the rod’s other end, the cool end, carefully manipulating the unwieldy bead.

And so the dance begins. The ritual is second nature to Shufelt: Turn the pipe. Defy gravity. Keep the elastic ball from extending a globular arm downward. Maintain temperature. Hot. But not too hot. Pass the liquid ball in and out of the glory hole, in this case a furnace fueled by methane. Breathe life into it.  Keep the expanding walls even, relatively thick. Then back in the glory hole. Ratchet up the red glow to dead-on perfection. Remove the sphere. Blow again. Aaron’s breath is held captive in the glass, swelling with the heat. Turn, turn, turn.

This is the ballet between artist and glass. And like a good lead, Aaron knows how to make his partner gracefully follow. The gap between elegance and disaster is narrow. One tiny miscalculation and the dance can fold into fiery ruin. But in Aaron’s capable hands, another work of art is about be tapped loose from the rod and placed in a chamber to cool where it will await final touches and a gallery destination.

Art had to be written into Aaron’s genetic code for he came from a highly artistic family. His mom, an accomplished ceramicist, went to Western Carolina University. Aaron grew up in art studios thinking of professors as extended family. He says, “As a kid I rolled slabs for my mom’s clay work, so I had an appreciation for sculpture early on. I tried a lot of things including photography, which I love, but glass, more than anything, feels like the perfect medium for me.”

Aaron is also a Western grad and is currently working out of the studios at Jackson County’s Green Energy Park. He speaks glowingly of the park, which is built on an old dump site. Decaying refuse gives off methane gas. Thanks to the ingenuity and diligence of Timm Muth, director of the park, much of that energy is now used for a blacksmithing forge, a glass-blowing furnace, and in the future a ceramics kiln which is now waste-powered (recycled vegetable oil). Aaron says, “It was a great opportunity for me to be at the GEP. It allowed me to develop myself as an artist. The park has my back. They are interested in giving artists a hand-up.”

And Aaron has your back this holiday season. He has an inspired seasonal decoration that is sure to fire up holiday conversation. His exquisite hand-blown glass pumpkins come in a variety of colors so you can bedeck your home with them all year long. Valentine pumpkins? Why not? It’s practically a Cinderella story in the making.

See Aaron and his pumpkins and much more at the Green Energy Park Monday, Thursday and Friday. Email for hours and directions. Check out Aaron’s fall beginner glass class schedule at Or visit Aaron’s website at


The Bascom News

The Bascom is the place to be Saturday, November 17th, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. as three wonderful events – The Nog Off, In These Mountains Exhibit reception, and Giving Trees – coincide in a fantastic three-fer-all celebration.

In the first event, the annual Nog Off Contest, guests will participate in a little friendly Egg Nog competition, along with the sharing of family recipes. Join everyone in a toast to friends, family and community. It is free and open to
the public.

The second salute of the evening is to Giving Trees, with a tribute to all the non-profits on the plateau. Visitors will be invited to donate to the many organizations that provide for the less fortunate during this season and all year long. Giving Trees will be on display November 17th through January 1st in the Terrace and Atrium.

And the third delight of the evening is In These Mountains exhibition, viewing November 17th through January 4th in the Loft Gallery. Living on a mountain plateau in Western North Carolina is inspirational to many creative and talented individuals. We are proud to share the gifts of our neighbors. Artists within a 35-mile radius of our Art Center are invited to submit proposals for an exhibition to fill our Loft Gallery. It is with great pride that we showcase these outstanding visual artists who are so important to the legacy and future of our region’s fine art and craft.

Friday and Saturday, November 23rd and 24th, is the annual Ginger Bread House Workshop from 10:00 a.m. to noon or 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Gingerbread designers will be given all the sweets and confections they need to create their own imaginative gingerbread house. Participants are invited to enter their houses in a contest, to be judged by popular vote. Space is limited. Pre-registration is required. One session is $45 per house. All ages are eligible to enter. An adult must accompany children under 10. The public is encouraged to cast their votes Monday through Friday, November 26th, through December 7th. The winners will be announced at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, December 8th.

The annual Artists Marketplace at the Dave Drake Studio Barn will hang out its shingle Friday and Saturday, November 23rd and 24th from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Featuring a collection of artworks in the Studio Barn, the Marketplace is the ideal place to find affordable, one-of-a-kind creations for Christmas, hostess and New Year’s gifts.

For more information or to register for a class, workshop or event, call (828) 526-4949 or visit

by Donna Rhodes

Berger Contributes to the Cause

The Betsy Paul art raffle for the Cashiers Glenville Volunteer Fire Department, will be held on November 30th in the afternoon. For more information, call (828) 743-0880.

The featured artist this month for the Betsy Paul Art Raffle will be David Berger. Born in Miami in 1957, David Berger began painting in 1988, at the age of 32, after having a life-altering, near-death experience. He experimented with watercolor for four years when he discovered a love for oil painting. He studied the works of the old world chiaroscuro painters at the Maitland Art Center under Barbara Tiffany and Greg Kreutz, who studied under David Leffel at the Art Students League in New York. For over 18 years David has painted still life, gaining a reputation for executing extraordinary realism with his delicate lace and colorful vases. In 2009, soon after moving into his mountain home, he became inspired by the breathtaking beauty of the area. That is when he picked up his brushes and began creating landscape masterpieces. David and his wife Julie, a successful jeweler, spend the winter months at their home in the quaint seaside town of Stuart, Florida, and the rest of the year they live in the picturesque mountains of Western North Carolina. He is an international exhibitor and member of local societies. His work has been displayed in many major outdoor festivals.

“My goal is to combine a sense of mystery, mood, and personal expression with techniques rich in vibrant color, strong shadow, and compelling composition. My passion lies in observing the intricacies of life and translating them onto canvas. I paint with oils on heavily primed and sanded canvas producing a slick surface. I begin with a dark background, painstakingly glazing over and over each area to produce the desired effect.”

Viewers are invited to see each month’s raffle item on display from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday at Betsy Paul Properties, 870 Highway 64 West, Cashiers, North Carolina. Checks can also be mailed directly to the Cashiers-Glenville Fire Department, P.O. Box 713, Cashiers, North Carolina, 28717. For more information contact Betsy Paul Properties, (828) 743-0880.

Healing the Sacred Divide

The path that led Jean Benedict Raffa to write her deeply personal “Healing the Sacred Divide: Making Peace with Ourselves, Each Other, and the World,” may seem to have included some detours and unexpected bumps, but looking back, there’s an undeniable inevitability about the entire journey.

Jean believes that humanity’s noblest dream is universal peace, justice, and love. She’s convinced that this dream cannot be fulfilled without individual psychological and spiritual maturity, and that doing the necessary inner work to make this happen is a spiritual path that is relevant for every seeker, regardless of religious affiliation.

Getting there, that’s the challenge.

“As a sensitive and spiritually oriented young woman, I looked to my religion for confirmation that I was acceptable,” she says.  “But after decades of trying to perfect myself according to its standards, I finally realized it didn’t have the slightest idea how to help me come to terms with my authentic self.”

It wasn’t that Jean didn’t seem to be living a full life – by all appearances, she had made a pretty good go at being the perfect teacher, the perfect mother, the perfect homemaker, the perfect community volunteer, and eventually the perfect television producer and college professor.

Yet there was clearly something that she was lacking. Her quest for that authentic self led her to search outside her church.

”I wasn’t giving up on God — I was just trying to wake up to the realities of my life in the Now instead of numbing out over beliefs and rituals that had lost their meaning, indulging in fantasies of future glory, and seeking approval from religious authorities,” Jean says. “Redirecting my focus from the outer world to the inner, and from the past and future to the present, I hoped to accomplish two things: First, I needed a reprieve from the unrelenting burden of anxiety and guilt about never being good enough. Second, I craved a more intimate connection with what truly felt sacred to me: that which inspires, is personally meaningful, elicits awe and comfort, fuels my energy instead of draining it, and helps me become a better, more authentic person.”

Unlike most quest stories, Jean’s journey led inward.

“Bible study had shown me my spiritual goals, but memorization and willpower had not helped me attain them. What did help was participating in various kinds of mental training that provide greater self-knowledge and help me tame my dragons. Along with my writing and Jungian studies I regularly practice dreamwork, meditation, and yoga. To this date, dreamwork and writing continue to be my primary spiritual practices.”

The fruit of all this deep searching and careful listening is Jean’s “Healing the Sacred Divide.”  The book is a compassionate balm for healing the deep divide between our masculine and feminine halves and a roadmap for the integration of a new, empowered self.

“Now I know that this is how we find God: by finding ourselves,” says Jean. “This is how we honor God: by honoring ourselves. This is how we listen to God: by listening to ourselves. This is how we change the world: by balancing opposing energies and opening to change. This is how we Heal the Sacred Divide within ourselves, in our personal and work relationships, and in the many complex ways we live together day-by-day on this beautiful and tortured planet we’re blessed to share.”

Jean, who spends her time between Highlands and Orlando, says of this, her third book about psychological and spiritual matters, “This was not a quick and easy write – it took 19 years from start to finish – but that seems appropriate to me. After all, it’s about journeying through life to rediscover the individual you were born to be and somehow lost along the way…to rejuvenate that child who lived the miracle of her life with joy and wonder every day. That’s something I’ll still be doing with my last breath!”

(“Healing the Sacred Divide: Making Peace with Ourselves, Each Other, and the World” by Jean Benedict Raffa is published by Larson Publications. It’s available through local booksellers and online retailers.)

The Art of Kelley Bentley Ash

Birds of a feather flock together at Around Back at Rocky’s Place often to get first dibs on the new arrivals of folk artist Kelley Bentley Ash.  Kelly’s paintings are whimsy at its best. Whether you are outfitting a room for children or one for adults, her paintings are just the ticket to make you smile…they are not only ageless, but also timeless.  Kelley paints with acrylics, pastels, and crayon and uses only vintage materials, such as old Southern quilts, Grit newspapers, and recycled burlap coffee sacks, in her mixed media pieces. Rocky’s Place saw the fun and the allure of her work over three years ago when the gallery started carrying her paintings.  She is a best-selling artist for the gallery, and her work has recently taken on notoriety in other venues.  Camper World snatched up her painting, for their corporate office, of “Queen of the Double Wide Trailer,” which features her Party Bird with a camper. Her paintings have been spotted in Paula Dean’s magazine adorning the walls in featured articles, and HGTV is currently working with the artist on ways to incorporate her work with what they do best…decorate! Also, a children’s book, chocked full of only her paintings as illustrations, is in the works; featured on the cover of the book will be her painting of a chick on a vintage bicycle with the title, “If you have ice cream and a dream, you have everything.”

Is her work for the birds?  Absolutely! Whether her pieces are party birds, birds on parade, hot chicks, wearing hats, doing the hokey-pokey, etc., they are must-haves to liven up any room or space. Although her signature is the “Party Bird,” she also paints other subjects as well. Her “Party Dogs” and “Party Horses” also have a huge following. Coupled with her animated animals and backgrounds of Seuss-like trees and sidewalks, are her words of wisdom to live by and for… “Enjoy the little things for one day you may realize they were the big things.”

Kelley Bentley Ash is a Southern girl, through and through, and her art reflects such themes. Her church pieces carry the lyrics from gospels like “I’ll Fly Away” and “Amazing Grace.” Her “Happy Appalachia” celebrates the North Georgia mountains.  Kelley, her husband, an architect, and their three children, live in a modern farmhouse, modern meaning the outside skeleton is new material, but the inside is retro and vintage just like the colors and materials used to create her art pieces. Their farm is complete with a hen house, and hence, her piece with the fox, entitled “Chicken Eater,” reflects her daily trials and tribulations of living on a farm. But the very best way to describe this artist is to share her own reflections as worded on her painting “Sweet Gravy”… “I love a Southern accent, I love an old friend, I love the smell of tea olive and the taste of peach tea, I love my smokin’ hot husband and my sweet kids, I love long hot days and early fall mornings, I love a long walk and a moon pie, I love slow talkers and quick thinkers, slow dancing and fast horses, but most of all I love God, this is my Sweet Gravy, what’s yours?”

Contributed by Robin L. Blan

Hard Candy Christmas

The Hard Candy Christmas Arts and Craft Show is celebrating its 25th year as a mountain Christmas tradition in Western North Carolina.

This popular event has come a long way from its beginning in Franklin, North Carolina, to the spacious Ramsey Center on the campus of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.

The first show had eight craftsmen. Today you’ll see original work of over 100 regional artisans. The show is always the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving (this year’s dates are November 23rd – 24th). Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The show is the hard work and dream come true for fellow artist Doris Hunter. She visits many craft shows each year to carefully pick blue ribbon artists.

“For generations, Christmas in the mountains has always been celebrated with apples, oranges and hard candy placed in each stocking,” says Doris. “I have continued this tradition by collecting a wide array of quality craft under one roof with Hard Candy Christmas! The best gifts are those that are handmade with love.”

This year’s Featured Artist is Tennessee native and sculptor Debra Parker Romero. She hand sculpts Old World Santas, elves, fantasy figures and ornaments. Each costume is sewn with fine fabrics with pride in every piece.

As a young girl growing up in the Smoky Mountains, Debra was inspired and instructed by her grandmother, who taught her the basics of crafting. Today, her one-of-a-kind creations have been acclaimed in many national publications, and are featured at the Biltmore Estate for the holidays this year.

“Customers line up early for our unique heritage and contemporary crafts,” says Doris. “Come and look for folk art, fine art, clay and glass art. We offer a wide variety of heritage crafts like broom making, goat milk soap, and hand-loomed cotton rugs. Look, also, for hand quilting, woodcraft, gourd art and the most unique potters around. You can even order a custom quilt or rustic furniture for the cabin and meet the craftsman who will make it!”

For more information visit the website www.mountainartisans,net, call Doris at (828) 524-3405, or email her at

Admission is $4 for a weekend pass for adults; children under 12 are free. Convenient parking is free, with concessions in the building. Bring your Thanksgiving company and Christmas list…then, have a piece of peppermint candy and a delicious apple at the ticket table and catch the Christmas spirit!

Shawn Camp and Balsam Range at Highlands PAC

Shawn Camp and Balsam Range are bringing the old-time Mountain Sound back to Highlands with a concert Thursday, November 29th, at the Performing Arts Center.

Shawn Camp and Balsam Range will return a long-gone part of Highlands’ musical heritage to Highlands’ Martin-Lipscomb Performing Arts Center Thursday, November 29th.

Shawn Camp is a bold and distinctive singer; a songwriter who has provided material for artists ranging from George Strait, Garth Brooks to Ralph Stanley, and Ricky Skaggs; and a multi-instrumentalist who has played with everyone from Alan Jackson to the Osborne Brothers. His music sprawls across the lines of mainstream Country, Americana and Bluegrass—and even though his songs have been recorded by popular mainstream artists, all of his solo projects make the case that no one can do them better than him.

Camp will be accompanied by some of Nashville’s finest session players — Larry Atamanuik (Alison Krauss), Mike Bub (5 time IBMA bass player of the year), and the phenomenal Guthrie Trapp on guitar. Balsam Range is a group of Appalachian musicians who have common respect for and love of American acoustic music. There are Grammy and award-winning musicians in this band, and the members each have long track records as credible, national performers; including performances at Carnegie Hall and the Grand Ole Opry. They are known for creatively blending Bluegrass, Folk, Gospel, and Jazz, into a new American acoustic music experience. They were recently given the “keys to the city” in Canton, North Carolina, where they were honored with an official declaration of “Balsam Range Day” in their home county. They were acknowledged for positive community impact and their new release “Papertown.” The title track is about the Western North Carolina town and pulp. The album boasts five national number-one songs and more than a dozen top-ten songs, and was named the number-one album. They’re also recent IBMA nominees in three categories and have the 2011 IBMA Song of the Year winner, “Trains I Missed.” They’ve also been voted Best Old-Time/Bluegrass Band of 2012 in Asheville’s Mountain Xpress Newspaper, and are currently part of the Zac Brown Band’s Southern Ground Music Festival lineup. They have recently finished a collaborative album with John Driskell Hopkins (ZBB) featuring special guests Zac Brown, and Joey+Rory. Balsam Range is blazing a huge trail in the American music scene.

Balsam Range will be in concert at the Highlands PAC on Thursday, November 29th. Tickets are $25 and are available online at or by calling (828) 526-9047. Highlands PAC is located at 507 Chestnut Street.

The New Wild Thyme Gourmet

Dindu Lama

Tantalizing aromas waft from the kitchen at Wild Thyme Gourmet at its new location in Town Square in Highlands.   Large red umbrellas dot the terrace in front of the restaurant.  Grab a light bite or sip a libation in the front bar.   For a more intimate meal, choose one of the booths or tables in the main dining room.  A hint of sophistication surrounds you in this relaxed, upscale environ.  No matter where you sit, you will enjoy the tantalizing cuisine upon which Wild Thyme has built its reputation.

Chef Owner Dindu Lama is masterful at choosing the right spices to enhance each entrée. Trained in Nepal, he deftly melds key Asian techniques into Wild Thyme’s distinctively American cuisine. Chase away the chill of a fall day with a cup of soup. There’s nothing better than their wild mushroom bisque, or their creamy red pepper soup.  Pair that with one of their delicious sandwiches or a robust salad and you will be energized for the remainder of the day.

I am a sucker for the crab cake sandwich-100 percent crab with cucumber, lettuce, and tomato enhanced with herb-caper mayonnaise. Another personal favorite is  the Salmon served over puff pastry complemented by sugar snap peas, carrots julienne in a light lemon-dill caper cream sauce. There’s something for everyone here – from great burgers (vegetarian and Angus beef), chicken, and shrimp, and more.  Come back often and try them all.

Dinner at Wild Thyme is a truly memorable experience.  Start the evening with your favorite wine or cocktail as you share one of the tasty appetizers. I enjoy the spicy Thai shrimp with a touch of Thai chili in a ginger sauce, while my wife prefers the lump crab filo purses.   What is your favorite?

Entrees include a variety of delicious fish and seafood, plus your favorite beef or game.  Be sure to check out the Special of the day.   On our last visit, specials included a veal chop, Flounder and scallops.  Each and every item is delectably-prepared from the freshest ingredients.   The Waterfall beef, a spicy stir-fry of beef tenderloin, fresh vegetables, with ginger and cilantro and lime is a customer favorite as is the Salmon with Wasabi peas.  There’s nothing better than the double-cut pork chop served with an apricot-rosemary sauce.

Complete your meal with one of Wild Thyme’s delicious homemade desserts.  They are well known for their multi-layer coconut cake and their butter scotch pudding, but don’t get in a rut. Ask for their weekly dessert specials.    When you’ve got a crowd at home, let Wild Thyme help you with their catering and take out menus.

Wild Thyme Gourmet is located at 343 Main Street in Town Square.  Call ahead for reservations at (828) 526-4035.  Open seven days, lunch 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., dinner 5:30 p.m.-‘til.  For more information check  Watch for the opening of their new restaurant, Ghangri, featuring Thai cuisine at their original location, 490 Carolina Way.

by Wiley Sloan

Highlands Annual Christmas Dinner

These joyful volunteers embody the best of the season.

The Highlands Annual Christmas Dinner will be back at the at The Hudson House of the Highlands Country Club on Christmas Day to offer Highlanders and visitors the best  Christmas meal imaginable.

A complete gourmet buffet spread featuring turkey, ham, tenderloin, and complemented by Donna Wood’s legendary cornbread dressing, scrumptious vegetables and salads, and finishing with the exquisite desserts of Martha Porter.

As always, local charities will receive the dinner’s proceeds. This year, the main recipients will be The Highlands-Cashiers Hospital, R.E.A.C.H. of Macon County, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Highlands.

“If we are as successful as we were last year, we may be able to add more nonprofits to that list as we did last year,” says organizer Ricky Siegel. “The success of last year’s event allowed us to distribute $22,000, so we were able to add the Highlands Emergency Council, The Literacy Council, The Free Dental Clinic and the Free Medical Clinic to our list of recipients. We are hoping to do the same this year.”

Seating is by reservation only, and serving begins at 11:00 a.m. and continues until 5:00 p.m.

“We will begin taking reservations on November 11th,” Siegel says. “You may call (828) 526-9419 to reserve. Adults are $35, children under 12 are $15, and kids under five are free.”

The Highlands Annual Christmas Dinner is staffed entirely by volunteers and has been a community tradition since its founding in 2001.

Sponsorships are available to help support the community. Put your name or the name of your organization on the “Donor Tree” as a “Star” for $1000, a “Present” for $500, an “Ornament” for $250, or a “Candle” for $100.

“Over the years we have received many “Star” donations, but we know that many ‘Candles’ can light up a lot of lives,”
Siegel says.

For more sponsorship information, contact Marty at Lakeside Restaurant, (828) 526-9419; or Siegel at the 4 ½ Street Inn at (828) 526-4464.

by Luke Osteen

Ghangri, Highlands Thai Restaurant

For many years you have seen the smiling faces of Highlanders as they have exited Wild Thyme Gourmet after a truly memorable meal. Now that Wild Thyme has moved to its new downtown location at 343 Main Street, Dindu and his staff are offering you second exciting dining option.

Their new restaurant named Ghangri offers Thai cuisine-known for its blending of disparate elements to create a harmonious flavor. Quality Thai foods include a balance of three to four fundamental taste senses in each dish or meal – sour, sweet, salty, and bitter.  Don’t worry about the foods being too hot.  Generally the spices can be adjusted to fit individual taste preferences. Notice the small chili peppers beside each item on the menu to determine its level of spice.

Not familiar with Thai cuisine? Order the “Combo Combo”– a variety of several appetizers. You’ll enjoy the variety of flavors in each item.  A host of salads offer a variety of unique greens as a palette for items such as minced chicken or soft boiled shrimp or seafood combos.  Mint leaves, cilantro and lime juice are included in several of the salads along with specialty dressings. The wide range of Entrees includes chicken, beef or tofu, shrimp, or seafood prepared in a variety of ways. Add brown or white rice to complement your entrée. The Chef’s specials include soft-shell crab, coconut shrimp, duck, red snapper and much more. Curry lovers rejoice. You have a choice of several different entrees from which to choose along with red, yellow or green curry. Ghangri prides itself on using only the freshest ingredients in everything that they do.

Choose your favorite wine from their expanded wine list. Feed your sweet tooth with one of Ghangri’s wonderful desserts. Compliment that with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

The warm, cozy atmosphere of Ghangri’s dining room is perfect on a brisk fall evening. Embrace the cosmopolitan fare of this exciting new entry into the Highlands’ dining scene.  Located at 490 Carolina Way, Ghangri is open for lunch and dinner six days per week.  Call (828) 526-8500 to make reservations or for more information.

by Wiley Sloan

Champagne: Beyond the Bubbles

I really love champagne. I enjoy the bubbles and the celebratory “Pop” of the cork.  With the Thanksgiving and Christmas season approaching, champagne makes the perfect wine pairing for all occasions. Just the word “champagne” evokes celebration and conviviality.

Just as there was Norma Jean before Marilyn Monroe, there is, however, a less glamorous story associated with champagne. This beverage, often associated with excess and frivolity, has its roots in hardship
and determination.

Historically, the region of Champagne was known for its wool production. As an early marketing ploy, shepherds used their bubbly wines to lure wool merchants. The bubblies brought the merchants back and created a demand for not just wool.

Fast forward to Napoleon. The Emperor favored Moët & Chandon bubbles, and his predilection angered Barbe Clicquot, later known as Veuve (widow) Clicquot. She and her cellar master took her kitchen table, sawed it in half, and created the first controlled fermentation known today as the méthode traditionelle.

Today, Veuve Clicquot might seem to be a brand; however, the legend began with the Veuve herself.  Raised to be a society wife, the widow Clicquot suddenly found herself with a business to run.

Her legacy was followed by Odette Pol Roger of the eponymous champagne house. At the end of World War II, Winston Churchill chose her champagne to serve to the Allied troops. Hence the later creation of “Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill.”

The effervescent Donna Woods, co-owner of Lakeside Restaurant, shares my champagne affinity: “I love bubbles! Probably Veuve Clicquot is my all time go-to favorite. The story of Madame Clicquot is so fascinating which keeps me close to her brand as well. ”

“I think people are missing out by not drinking more sparkling.  The acidity in champagne helps it go with so many foods; it is not just for a toast,” she added.

Timeless and always happy, champagne is the perfect guest at any soirée. Go beyond the toast!

Contributed by Mary Ann Hardman

The Legendary Judge Jim Hines

Judge Jim Hines

Highlands is known for its natural beauty and its natural-born characters. Ran Shaffner’s tome, “Heart of the Blue Ridge” is chock full of anecdotes about colorful folk, but one of the most interesting was the legendary Judge Jim Hines.

Among other things, Hines played an important role in the U.S. Postal Service’s mail delivery. In 1914 and most of the following decade his garage on 4th Street served as a mini mail distribution center.

Customers could count on being entertained, enlightened, and occasionally insulted when they picked up their mail, for Hines’ thought-filters were virtually non-existent. He’d say most anything that came to mind.  And he got away with it, for he was as quick to tell a joke or lavish praise, as he was to jerk a knot in someone’s tail. Visitors always knew where they stood with Hines and they liked that about him… usually. Shaffner says, “Hines had black hair, a handle-bar moustache, and dark blue eyes that could shoot sparks one minute and twinkle the next.”

But even if Hines gave someone a verbal smack, the smackee didn’t stay bruised for long. Hines’ quick wit and charm were the equivalent of an “undo” button. To illustrate, his daughter Bessie shares the following. One night Bessie’s mom strode into the living room, as Bessie tells it, “All rigged-out in her no-foolishness tailored suit and a wide-brimmed, severe-looking hat, on her way to a Macon County League of Women Voter’s meeting.” Flexing her fingers as she drew on her gloves, she noticed her husband peering at her over the top of his paper, a gleam in his eye.

He said, “Do you know what the two most useless things in the world are?” And before she could concoct an answer, he said, “A man’s teats and the Macon County League of Women Voters.”

Good thing his family had a tolerance and appreciation for his unique brand of humor, for as he casually resumed reading his paper, Bessie and her mom fell on the floor laughing.

We didn’t say he was RIGHT about everything, just that he had something to say about everything! And it usually contained a zinger that made you laugh or groan or at least made you think.  We could use more judges like that today . . . as long as we aren’t on the other side of their bench.

Shaffner adds one more jewel to the Hines Quip Crown, “Hines’ garage was next door to the Martin House, a popular inn in Highlands during the 1920s and 30s. In order not to offend the refined guests of the inn, he put up a hand-crafted sign that read, “Please don’t cuss, not that we give a damn but it sounds like hell to the ladies on the hill.”

To learn about more Highlands’ legends check out Heart of the Blue Ridge or visit the Highlands Historical Society’s website:

by Donna Rhodes

Don’t Allow Any Republicans To Be Buried in my Burying Ground

Lower Zachary Cemetery in Cashiers - 1981.

The two oldest cemeteries in Cashiers are called the Lower Zachary Cemetery and the Upper Zachary Cemetery. They are located on the same road, not very far apart. The oldest cemetery is the Lower Zachary Cemetery with the first burial dating to the 1860s. Keven Hawkins reports that the Upper Zachary Cemetery was originally called the Hawkins Cemetery but at some unknown point in time started being referred to as the Upper Zachary Cemetery. Why, people often ask, are there two Zachary cemeteries? Answers to that question vary between “It was about politics,” or “It was because of the Civil War.” No further explanation. Several pieces of evidence, located at different times, can now be put together to come up with a reasonable answer.

• Several weeks ago, when I was going through my many folders of bits of collected Cashiers history, I happened upon a folder labeled “Cashiers Cemeteries.” I opened it up and was leafing through it, document by document, when I ran across a handwritten note from the late Ruth Lombard Oliver. For many years she studied the Zachary family history and when I was bitten by the family history bug, Ruth, at the yearly Zachary Reunions, would pass on to me old Zachary stories. One of her notes appeared significant to me. It read, “Andy (nickname for Alexander) Zachary was a Republican, and when his wife, Sara Isabella Wilson Zachary, died, a year after Col. John A. Zachary’s death in 1872. she was not allowed burial in the Lower Zachary Cemetery,” as ordered by Col. John A. Zachary’s pre-death command. The anger over divided family loyalties during the Civil War reached out from beyond the grave and punished the descendants.

• In 1917 at the 9th Zachary Reunion held at the Cashiers Lower Zachary Cemetery, the speaker was a grandson of Col. John A. Zachary. As he related some early Zachary tales he said, “Of the six sons (of Col. John Zachary) living after the [Civil] War, there were three Republicans. Uncle Alfred, Uncle ANDY, and Uncle? (name not legible.)” There are many examples of Andy’s support of the
Union forces.

Since this article is limited to 350 words, I must cut the story short. Next time someone from the North of the Mason-Dixon Line asks you if the South is still fighting the Civil War, tell them we aren’t fighting but we still remember.

Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society

A Mountain Paradise

Start your mornings in a comfy easychair on the front porch. Follow the sun as it rises slowly over the trees to dance on the mirror-like surface of the pond. Landscape architect Hank Ross joined forces with landscape designer Jim Tate to create a mountain paradise.  The home’s pond is fed by a nearby creek.  Enjoy the sounds of gently-cascading water as it meanders around the edges of the meadow.  Throughout the day you can move to various relaxation venues scattered throughout the property.  Escape the heat of the day in your own “secret garden” –  a hammock underneath a variety of trees including maples, river birch, and wild cherry trees.  Dip your feet into the cool waters of the gentle creek.

From this quiet solitude it’s hard to realize that you are just a short walk to the heart of downtown Highlands. Cross the meadow, climb a gentle slope to reach the trail at The Bascom where you meander through decade-old rhododendron and mountain laurel until you reach the covered foot-bridge.  From there you pass Highlands’ new post office and head two short blocks into the heart of downtown.

Once you’ve finished your errands, head back to the peace and tranquility of your picturesque cottage. The charm of years-gone-by is wrapped in resplendent cottage style that has recently been enhanced to meet the needs of the 21st century.  Don’t let the home’s condensed footprint fool you.  Every inch of this decorator-inspired space is carefully planned for optimal benefit.  Enjoy the warmth of gas logs in the living room’s stone fireplace.   The room’s plank paneling and vaulted ceiling lend a lodge feeling.

The eat-in kitchen with its walls of cabinets and tile counters make meal prep a breeze. The grill awaits just steps away at the back door. Let the kids gather at the island or when the whole family is ready to eat, the dining nook on the covered porch is the perfect gathering spot.

Guests feel pampered in the home’s guest suite with twin iron beds and private bath.  You, too, feel truly special in the owner’s enclave.  The master vanity is a repurposed Chinese altar table which has been fitted with twin copper lavatories.  A tile walk-in shower makes freshening up a breeze.

This is a homeowner’s dream. You’ve got the best in infrastructure – a whole-house generator, added insulation, underground electrical, central heating and cooling.  Home maintenance is a breeze. The home sits on two lots totaling more than two-thirds of an acre.  Two additional lots surround this property too.

This gem of a home won’t last long.  Offered by Nadine Paradise of Blackrock Realty Group, it is something that you really should see.  For more information call Nadine at (828) 371-2551 (mobile) or at her office at (828) 526-0000 or go to

by Wiley Sloan

Shift with the Season

Ashby Underwood-Garner is a Rolf Structural Integration Practitioner and Yoga Therapist at Yoga Highlands. Contact her at

My husband is making his second round of espresso at 11:30 a.m. on a busy day.  He says a nap would be his preference, but the “go life” calls…

For many people the pace of life is something to ponder in the modern era of texting and meeting, doing business and finding time for fellowship with our family and peers.  Sometimes, being “retired” does very little to slow folks down and get enough rest.  Most Americans work so that doing less or doing nothing can be more challenging than running a marathon.  Does the word “retired” ironically mean to be tired all
over again?

There’s a real need for rhythms – ebbs and flows of energetic output and being at our peak level of wellness or fitness. Whitey Herzog – a former manager for the St. Louis Cardinals–who had been involved in baseball for many, many years–was astonished at the level of physical fitness of modern baseball players.  Likewise he was concerned at how fragile the players were, and felt the players were too highly tuned to last for a 168-game season without getting injured – the players had simply done too much training and strict dieting. He recommended the players go out once a week for a rare steak and a piece of pie to “get a little juice” on the bone. The players relaxed a bit and followed his advice.  Injuries tapered off to minor sprains and strains and the Cardinals won the World Series. In the scope of Yoga Therapy, that “little juice” or fullness of life is called Ojas (Sankrit). Ojas is the nutritive cushion of well-being that is depleted in most people with symptoms ranging from sleep deprivation, attention deficit disorder, to more extreme deficits such as cancer.  Therapeutic practices of Yoga (lifestyle practices, rather than exercises), are scientifically applied to restore personal vitality.  In autumn, what we see for ourselves and many people who are fragile from the demands of modern living, is a drying effect on the joints, skin, and thinned out nerves. We suggest that less is more to seasonally restore your Ojas.

Knee Pain?

Contributed by Jim Johnson, DC, DACBN & Resa Johnson, DC, DACBN, Mountain Air Wellness (828) 743-9070

Knee pain plagues many of us.  It can be acute or chronic. With our knees being the largest joint in our bodies, and taking considerable abuse, having pain is very common and treatable. Determining the cause of the pain is the first step in alleviating symptoms and restoring knee function. Your Chiropractic physician is the professional to turn to when knee pain begins! Sudden injuries from abnormal twisting, bending, or falling on the knee can result in acute and continuous pain.  Tears in the meniscus (the cushions between the two large bones of the legs), and sprains and strains of ligaments on the inside as well as along both sides of the knee can become stretched and sometimes torn.  Muscle weakness or imbalance can complicate recovery but these muscle imbalances can be checked with applied kinesiology. Over-use injuries such as stair climbing, bicycle riding, jogging, or jumping stress joints with irritation and inflammation in the knees, resulting in severe pain.  Twisting wrong on the golf course or lunging for the tennis ball can cause knee injury. Often diagnosed as bursitis, tendinitis, patellofemoral pain syndrome (pain under the knee cap that hurts when going up and down steps), iliotibial band syndrome (pain on the side of the leg), osteoarthritis, cysts behind the knee, arthritis, bursitis, and/or a simple pinched nerve can be the cause of knee pain.

First and foremost, having your knee pain properly diagnosed by a trusted physician is essential in creating a comprehensive and holistic treatment plan with minimal side effects and maximum benefits and relief.  After diagnosis, physical pain relief with acupuncture, hot/cold compresses,  and physical therapy must begin. Also, a physical activity plan to rest the painful knee and consistently build back its strength needs to be started immediately after diagnosis. It is important to try and avoid pain medication therapy because if you can’t feel the problem you compound the problem.  A proper healing, nutritional and supplement plan needs to be developed in partnership with your physician. Check out your options for knee pain relief and get your treatment started today!

Voyage to Alaska

Contributed by Bryan & Tricia Cox - CruiseOne Independent Vacation Specialists (828) 356-7920

It’s November, and you are probably thinking, “Winter is almost here; why are they writing about Alaska?”  Well, if Alaska is on your list of places to visit, now is the perfect time to begin thinking about a trip for next year.

While there are many choices when it comes to creating the perfect Alaska vacation, cruising is one of the most convenient and relaxing ways to go.  Imagine sitting on your balcony taking in the magnificence of the glaciers as you sail up the pristine coastline.  With stops in charming towns and fishing villages where the scenery is breathtaking and the wildlife is abundant, Alaska offers something
for everyone.

To enhance your Alaska vacation, you may also want to consider adding a land tour to your cruise.  To truly experience the splendor of this vast state, traveling inland is a must.  By extending your vacation and taking advantage of a fully-escorted land journey through its rugged interior, you will be immersed in the culture, flavor, sights and sounds of Alaska.

So, when is the best time to visit Alaska?  We suggest planning your trip during the months of June, July or August.  Summer in Alaska is glorious.  The sun refuses to set, the salmon run upriver and people are energized by limitless daylight. The shoulder months of May and September are also becoming more popular because of lower prices and reduced crowds.

Alaska is the one destination that can fill your soul with tremendous warmth while simultaneously surrounding you with earth’s most arctic element.  Catch sight of a humpback whale or wolf pups frolicking in the snow, discover a nesting eagle high in a Sitka spruce or observe a family of brown bears foraging along a rocky beach. This is one of life’s greatest adventures. From the awe-inspiring blue ice of the massive glacial field of Hubbard Glacier to the pioneering spirit of Juneau, the gold-rush town of Skagway and the totem poles of Ketchikan, this is everything you ever imagined and traveled so far to see.


Remember the poem, “Everything I Know I Learned From Kindergarten”? After it was published, dozens of spinoffs appeared: “Everything I Know, I Learned From: Musicals; Friends; My Dog; My Cat; Asparagus…”

I may be late jumping on the spin-off train, but I propose an addition to the genre, “Everything I Know I Learned From The Simpsons.” Okay, so the Simpsons’ postage stamp bombed, and Homer is Bad Dad Incarnate, but there is much to be said for a family that so masterfully put the fun back
in dysfunctional.

For anyone who has nodded off for three decades and is not familiar with Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, they are characters created by the cartooning genius of Matt Groening. Each weekly half-hour Simpsons show is filled with quotable dialog to which almost everyone can relate. For example, “There’s an angry mob here to see you, sir.” Well, yeah! As a teacher, that happens to me every time the bell rings.

Or, “I see you’ve played knifey-spooney before.” I yearn to say that to a kid, just once, while pacing the aisles on cafeteria duty.

Here’s a personal fav among students whose sole ambition is to refine the excuse du jour, “Maybe there is no moral. Maybe it’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.”  Thanks for that chestnut, Homey.

But before we condemn Homer for being the inept, donut-devouring, lazy, ignorant, beer-bellied klutz that he is, let us not forget he is a devoted family man. And, among his other credits, he has been voted the second most favorite cartoon character of all time, bested only by Bugs. Plus he and his family have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Not too shabby for a guy whose theme-song goes: “Simpson, Homer Simpson/ He’s the greatest guy in history/ From the/ Town of Springfield/ He’s about to hit a chestnut tree.”

And speaking of hits, here are some favorite Homerisms, which I dedicate to my fellow teachers in history, science, English, civics, and math:

“Sure, the Germans have made a few mistakes, but that’s why pencils
have erasers.”

“Well, we hit a slight snag when the universe collapsed in on itself.”

“Is this the end of Zombie

“Freedom! Horrible, horrible

“Elementary chaos theory shows that all robots must inevitably
run amok.”

The cool thing about Homer is that he manages to defy, decry, defame, and D’oh himself into infamy, yet somehow he remains loveable. There is something in that about all of us, teachers, students, white collar, blue collar, dog collar, though what it is I can’t quite put my finger on. But, as Einstein once said, everyone places a sacrifice on the Altar of Stupid from time to time. Perhaps Homer is the sacrifice himself, for in his woozle-wazzle world he offers us insight and maybe even forgiveness for those pesky adolescent lapses into which we occasionally fall.

So here’s to Homer. He dives into the pig trough and strolls out smelling like, well, a pig trough. But it’s Homer and only Bugs can do it better. That’s impressive. And, as Homey once said, “I’m not easily impressed…WOW! A BLUE CAR!”

by Donna Rhodes

The Benefits of Functional Medicine

As a doctor, my patients often ask me about the benefits of functional medicine over mainstream medicine and how it can affect their health.  Functional medicine looks at the body as a whole, focusing on the interplay of all systems and locating deficiencies or overages that are challenging the body’s natural function.  Functional medicine doesn’t wait for laboratory markers to represent disease.   Targeting the body’s processes that are out of alignment and gently assisting the body to take its own better course toward health can preempt or interrupt that disease process. Patient and doctor work together as a team to identify and find ways to remedy the problem before it becomes a real problem.

When something goes wrong in the body, the source is generally biomechanical, biochemical, lifestyle stressors or a combination.  Approaching the body as a whole system, functional medicine researches how the different organs communicate and work together.  A functional medicine doctor looks for the root cause and determines the best methods and treatments to restore health.  Consider the example of blood sugar elevations eventually manifesting into diabetes. Medical mainstream will not diagnose disease until blood glucose is above a certain number. Lab tests can show a pattern of elevation long before the problem becomes a diagnosable disease. Preempting a situation like this through natural treatments including diet, exercise and lifestyle choices can not only keep the patient healthy but also prevent the need for future prescription medications. Choices like this are available through functional medicine and if caught early enough, the body has time to restore its full function to remain healthy. Symptoms can be an important part of discovering the underlying cause of illness or disease. Once the key issue is discovered the team can work toward restoring normal body physiology and function. Depending upon the severity of the internal imbalances, the treatment and time needed for recovery will vary.

The best way for functional medicine to help you is by not allowing your symptoms to be ignored. Pursue a healthcare provider who will listen to you and acknowledge your symptoms and then search for and address the root cause of your problem.  Implement the prescribed treatment, nutritional, lifestyle and exercise adjustments and you will find a better formula for the rest of your life!

Contributed by Dr. Jim Johnson

The Benefits of Yoga – Better Breathing

With so many benefits, it’s easy to see why people around the world practice Yoga.  Some turn to yoga as a source of exercise but for most, yoga is or becomes more than just a “work out.”  The physical postures (asanas) are only one component of the yoga experience but when coupled with another component like breath control (pranayama), the practice can take awareness of self to another level.

Breathing is instinctive, automatic and obvious for survival but we sometimes forget how the routine task of breathing contributes to our physical health.  In today’s modern world, the breath can become habitually shallow and quick, reducing the body’s oxygen supply and potentially causing a decline in both lung capacity and function.   As we breathe, the body takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide.  When focused breathing techniques are used, the breath becomes deep and slow.  This intentional action of focused intake and release removes waste and toxins from the body, purifying the nervous system, vital organs and blood stream.

Beyond the physical, yogic breathing also relaxes the mind, aiding in self discipline, self realization, stress management and emotional balance.  A Pranayama (control of life force) practice should be conducted safely under the guidance of a trained teacher and once comfortable, practiced on an individual level.  Pranayama techniques vary and may not be suitable for everyone.  Commonly practiced breathing exercises include the Ujjayi  Breath, Three Part Breathing, and Viloma Breathing, naming just a few of many.

The body and soul are connected by the breath.  Understanding this connection and practicing breathing techniques (pranayama) can provide a sense of rejuvenation and calmness that may otherwise hard to achieve during daily routines.  Just five minutes of controlled breathing, three to five times a week, can change your approach to the daily grind.  Relax and breathe!

Mary Abranyi is the owner

of Cashiers Valley Fusion

and Green Mountain

Realty Group.

(828) 743-9000


The Beehive

Tracy Brandes

Nowadays when you hear the word “beehive” you think of a structure in which some honeybees live and raise their young.  But during the Camelot years, a beehive was a hair style.  Several months ago I was at Old Edwards Inn and Tracy Brandes,  Associate Director of Sales was sporting a beehive hairdo.   I was intrigued: it takes confidence to wear a retro hairdo – especially at work.  When I asked Tracy about her hairdo, her reply was, “I have a rule when it comes to appearance at my weddings and events: do not underdress your guests. With that said, I would do my hair in the morning and in these hot and humid summer afternoon my hair would be a frizzy mess by the afternoon. I realized that my only option was an up-do of sorts with lots of hair spray!  I’m pretty sure it started out with a Google search of “fashionable updos for brunettes….” I saw a picture of Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Alba with beehives of sorts and tried to mimic it. “

The beehive was invented in 1960 when Modern Salon was looking for a new design for their next publication.  Margaret Vinci Heldt, a hairstylist who owned her own salon got the idea from a small black velvet hat that was shaped like a bump.  She spent the evening in with a mannequin head and the rest is history.  The beehive caught on like wildfire and  lives on in today’s hair fashion.  Everyday women wear the beehive hairdo when they dress up for work.  Most modern-day women do not go to the extreme high elevations that the women of the 1960s did when they turned their beehives into hornets’ nests.  Modern day beehives are subdued, practical, and only inches above the head.

Beehive hairdos are hot, whether you’re going for a vintage throwback, a conservative Sarah Palin, or a wild Amy Winehouse look. Jackie Kennedy was often spotted with a beehive at formal events and don’t be surprised if you see Taylor Swift sporting one in the future.  Taylor Swift has been romantically linked to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s 18-year-old son Conor and has quickly adopted the Kennedy chic.  Swift’s style has swiftly become more casually refined, with her ditching her boho-chic dresses and boots and instead sporting preppy gear, such as a white button-down with a floral printed, calf-length skirt. Or a retro polka-dot bikini top, with equally old-school yet feminine high-waisted shorts and topping off her new style with Jackie O-style sunglasses and red lipstick.

Now if you are brave enough to try the beehive there are quite a few videos on how to do a beehive or here is advice from Brandes: “I think the key is to start small!  I tried looking at YouTube videos but they were complicated… so I started with a small tease in the back and grew it as I got better to a size that was fun and appropriate. Wearing a headband always helps make it look polished and I feel that doing the beehive with just half your hair up and the other half down will make it look more modern and casual.“  So if you feel brave enough to sport a beehive don’t forget the Jackie
O glasses.

In Memory of Sam

Today we had to make a very difficult decision.  Over the last week Sam had quickly declined to where he could no longer get up, or stay up, on his own.  He could not eat or drink without assistance.  We could see in his eyes that he had finally given up.  So, those that cared for him decided that it was time to help him over the rainbow bridge.

Poor Sam probably had a very rough life.  The part we know about began with his abandonment in the Pisgah National Forest.  He was picked up by a caring person who tried to find a home for him but ended up having to take him to the county shelter.  He was fortunate to be “pulled” from there by a local rescue organization and placed in a boarding kennel until he could be adopted.  Sam had some difficulty walking and it was assumed that he had been injured, but a cause could not be found.  It was finally decided that adoption was probably out of the picture, so they asked us to take him at the Forever Farm.  With the help of our veterinarian we began to realize that Sam had a neurological disorder of the cerebellum causing the ataxia and that it was obviously progressive.  Poor Sam had probably been abandoned by his owner when he first started showing signs of the disease and could no longer hunt with the other hounds.

For the last few months of his life Sam was pampered and loved.  Every day he would be helped out to the field where he would sit and roll in the grass.  If he got too tired to walk back to his room he would get a ride back on the Gator, or on the stretcher we bought just for him.  His body may have weakened but his character stayed amazingly strong.  We will miss him greatly.

Friends for Life is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization that operates the Forever Farm, a lifelong sanctuary for senior and special needs animals.  We currently care for 170 animals and depend primarily on tax deductible donations to operate the farm and care for our animals.  Visit our website: and take the Visual Tour of our facility.  Call (828) 508-2460 for information.

Contributed by Kathy Bub, Executive Director,
Forever Farms

Biological Station


n 2011, the Highlands Biological Foundation received a $25,000 grant from the Eckerd Family Foundation to create “Backyard Naturalists,” an after-school program designed to inspire a lifelong appreciation of the natural world through science, art and technology.  The program was created in partnership with Meet Your Neighbours, an international photographic initiative designed to reveal the wildlife living amongst us in an extraordinary way, and draws upon the educational resources of the Highlands Nature Center.

The Pilot program last spring was a huge success regarding each participants’s improved observation skills and appreciation of nature, and their skills as photographers.  Backyard Naturalists participants from the pilot program even had their best photographs displayed in The Bascom’s Mountains In Bloom photography contest this past July.  The success of the pilot program led to the fall launch of Backyard Naturalists on October 4th in Highlands.  In fact, several of the 15 kids this fall are returning participants from the pilot program.

Backyard Naturalists participants learn the essentials of how to be an amateur naturalist. The program includes eight weeks of lessons, one afternoon per week, structured to promote a better appreciation and understanding of the natural world by nurturing creativity and independent observation skills.  Study topics include learning about plants and animals, community interactions between species, nature journaling, illustration and a nature photography workshop. Using this knowledge, the students work together to develop a blog where they can share information, photos, and discoveries.  We incorporate images produced by other Meet Your Neighbours photographers around the world into the blog and encourage the development of similar Backyard Naturalists programs in their own communities. In this way technology becomes a tool and an asset used to put students in touch with the natural world around them in ways that only beautiful close-up photography can provide. It is our hope that Backyard Naturalists will have a lasting, positive impact on the lives of our participants and encourage them to get outside and explore the natural world that is as close as their own backyards.

For over 84 years the mission of the Highlands Biological Station and Foundation has been to foster education and research based on the rich natural heritage of the Highlands Plateau.  To become a part of the Highlands Biological Foundation and assist in this mission visit   To learn more about Backyard Naturalists or to sign up please visit or, or call (828) 526-2221.  To learn more about Meet Your Neighbours, visit

Contributed by Sonya Carpenter

Gratitude and Balance

Jack Conway, John Michael Montgomery and Sue Blair at the Meet and Greet before his evening performance at Carpe Diem Farms.

If you follow the life and times of Carpe Diem Farms you may notice the recurring theme of gratitude and balance. In this month of Thanksgiving the theme remains the same.

We have just completed our incredible anniversary celebration and the gratefulness list overflows! I know that I take a risk in naming individuals for fear of forgetting someone.

Number one thanks goes to Marjorie and Janet of Laurel Magazine. They have given CDF a huge “voice” every month for 10 years…happy anniversary to them too!

Highlands’ own WHLC Radio 104.5 FM, The Highlander and Legacy, The Highlands Newspaper and all the other publications that responded to our publicity volunteer, Katy Calloway. Our event coordinator Patricia Shapins, Holly Roberts, Mary Adair Leslie, Franklin Ingram, my assistant of 21 years, Peter Raoul and his friend Victoria, Karen Hasbrouck our photographer, my amazing husband Jack Conway, Judy Brinson, and Diane Warren.

Our thanks to everyone who attended and brought someone else. Tracy Sponsors: Greg and Amanda Gregory and Candy and John McKey; Pumpkin Sponsors: Kathy and John Hartley, Leslie and Ron Ezerski, Kirk Wilkerson, Suzanne Lawton and Henry Mendler, Judy and Jack Brinson, Susan and Lambert Chandler.

Steve Hott and his crew of sound technicians as well as Josh and Mike with Edward’s Electric made the event work. Macon County EMTs gave us a sense of safety and our Sherriff, Robby Holland provided a wonderful group of deputies to watch over us.

We reached for the stars, brought John Michael Montgomery to CDF and it was terrific!

The final event of the evening, a multi-course dinner in the magically transformed arena was designed and orchestrated by Tim Lundy and his Distinctive Designs staff. The great reveal left attendees in awe! David Scott, songwriter and talented singer performed to every ones’ delight.

Magic and miracles, gratitude and balance remain the theme of life and times at Carpe Diem Farms. May your thankfulness list overflow as you gather with your friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving. Carpe Diem Farms is located five miles down Buck Creek Road and has served our communities for 20 years.

Contributed by Sue Blair, Carpe Diem Farms Executive Director

Shop With a Cop Bingo

Highlands police Chief Bill Harrell, Rotary member and Bingo caller Tay Bronaugh and Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland congratulate the winner of the Super Bingo Game at last year’s Shop with a Cop Rotary Bingo night.

The Rotary Club of Highlands will partner again with the Macon County Sheriff’s Department and the Highlands Police Department this December for Shop With a Cop Rotary Bingo to help support the Macon County Shop With a Cop Program.

Shop With a Cop provides Christmas to well over 200 Macon Country children who otherwise would have little or no Christmas. Children are selected by law enforcement officers and teachers who know which children will be facing a very bleak Christmas. Each child is taken to Wal-Mart by an officer and will have $100 to spend with only a couple of conditions. First, they must buy something for themselves and second, buy something for someone else.

After fun and shopping with officers, children will have lunch and a Christmas party where presents are wrapped after a visit with Santa Claus complete with photos. After the party, children are taken home by the officer.

Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland, who began Shop With a Cop in Macon County said, “Many of the children come from difficult circumstances, where law enforcement officers are perceived as bad guys. Shop With a Cop works to change that image through friendship and participating in a Christmas that otherwise wouldn’t happen.”

Highlands Police Chief Bill Harrell joined Sheriff Holland in saying,“Shop With a Cop is a positive experience not only for the children involved but also for our officers.”

Begun in December 2009, Shop With a Cop Rotary Bingo has become the largest single revenue stream for this program. If you can’t be at Shop With a Cop Rotary Bingo on December 6th at the Highlands Community Building from 6:30 p.m.– 8:30 p.m., please make a donation through any law enforcement officer or Highlands Rotarian – that small sound on Christmas morning may just be a child saying thank you.

Contributed by Jodie Cook

A Little Dirt Never Hurt

A work-in-progress view of the native plants that were planted at Rhododendron Park in March with the help of many volunteers and the Greenway.

It is the mission of the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust to save the places we love. However, protecting and managing property with forever in mind can be a daunting task. Recently, HCLT has begun to take a more active approach in managing our properties. Here is a brief update of what HCLT has been doing on our properties over the past year.

Earlier this year, HCLT and the Highlands Plateau Greenway, with the aid of a grant from the Laurel Garden Club, beautified the trailhead to Rhododendron Park.

HCLT now has a beautiful message center at Ravenel Park (Sunset Rock) built and donated by Tommy Chambers and was funded in part by a grant from the Town of Highlands. HCLT will be using this message center to help advertise our future events.

This fall and using chemicals purchased with a grant from Mountain Findings, we will be treating the hemlocks along the Kelsey Trail to ensure that these magnificent and ecologically important trees remain in the Highlands area for years to come.

Years of wear and heavy rains have caused parts of the Kelsey Trail and Satulah Mountain trails to accrue serious erosion. Reclaiming these trails and making them more sustainable is hard work and takes much time, effort, and money. Recently the Cullasaja Women’s Outreach gave HCLT a huge boost to our stewardship program thanks in part to a grant that has allowed us to purchase key equipment and supplies so that we can better maintain our trails.

Of course, we could not do this without the hard work of our staff and volunteers and your generous donations. Please help us, the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, ensure that the places we all love remain protected and sustainable for future generations! The smallest donation of time or money can go a long way in helping us achieve our goals. If you have any questions or would like to help, please contact us at (828) 526-1111,, or stop by our office in the Peggy Crosby Community Service building at 348 S. 5th Street in Highlands.

Contributed by Kyle Pursel, Stewardship Coordinator, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust

Cashiers Humane Society’s Silver Seniors

Usually the only thing a shelter has to do to adopt out puppies and kittens is simply open the doors for business. While it is gratifying that people come to shelters to adopt the young ones, the older animals oftentimes get overlooked. And that is a shame, because many potential adopters don’t realize the benefits of a senior pet.

Senior pets are already housetrained, and you won’t have to go through all the frustration of cleaning that mess on your favorite rug. Senior pets won’t chew that expensive pair of shoes. Older dogs and cats require less exercise. And with a senior pet, what you see is what you get-–their temperament is already well established and you won’t have any behavioral “surprises” down the road.

November is Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month, and in recognition of this important month, combined with the 25th anniversary of the Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society, CHHS is offering a reduced adoption fee of just $25 for all our animals seven years and older. We call these very special animals our CHHS “Silver Seniors”:

SHYANN & GRACE: A beautiful mother-daughter duo, Shyann is a ten-year-old female Siberian Husky, and Grace is a nine-year-old female Malamute/Husky mix. They are loving, loyal and gentle.

PJ & LOLA: Our resident “Romeo & Juliet”, PJ is a 10-year-old male feline, and Lola is a nine-year-old female. These two cats are inseparable and need to be adopted together.

TROOPER: Our famous “Super Trooper” is an eight-year-old German Shepherd/Basset Hound mix, and is an absolute sweetheart. He is the perfect companion animal for
any family.

OSCAR: The consummate lap dog, Oscar is an 11-year-old male Shih Tzu who would love nothing more in life than to be held and cuddled.

NEIL: Our feline counterpart to Oscar, Neil is a nine-year-old male orange Tabby who dreams of curling up in a warm, loving lap.

Visit our shelter Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and meet these incredible companion animals. Senior pets ask for so little, and they offer so much
in return.

The Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society is located on Highway 64, 2.3 miles east of the Cashiers Crossroads behind Reid Real Estate. For more information, please call (828) 743-5752 or visit

Contributed by David Stroud, Executive Director, Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society

Grace has nine years’ worth of gentle love to share with a new home.

Valley Garden Club News

After a summer of wonderful field trips, a plant exchange and excellent programs, the Valley Garden Club was ready to wrap up a growing season by learning what to do in preparation for cold weather. An informative program was presented by Dave Dotson on appropriate and timely pruning and planting.

There is one more major project this year–the Christmas Parade float. We are going with a “Gardening Angels” theme and hope to delight all with a whimsical entry in the parade.

If you would like further information on the Valley Garden Club and its programs, please contact President Donna Lehn at (828) 743-0829.

Contributed by Kathie Blozan

An Evening with Phil Roy

With all the other exciting happenings in Highlands on December 1st, including the Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas Parade, where we hand out over 500 books to children along the route,we are hosting a concert at the Performing Arts Center that evening which features songwriter and recording artist Phil Roy.

The concert will feature Phil’s new single, “A Carolina Christmas,” which he wrote especially for our event. I recently spoke with Phil and he is very excited about returning to Highlands.

In order to get to know him better, I asked Phil about his career:

What brought you to the field of arts?

Early on, I was drawn to music. First toy guitar at seven, my first real guitar at nine. I started music lessons from a teacher at the local music store that same year and have been playing ever since..

What are some of the famous songs you have written?

I wrote “Hope In A Hopeless World” which was the band Widespread Panic’s biggest radio single. Many others have recorded that song — “Pops” Staples, Paul Young, Eric Bibb, and Marlena Shaw also released versions.

Joe Cocker had a Top 10 hit with my song called “The Simple Things.”

Other artists of note that have sung my songs are Ray Charles, The Neville Brothers, Wyclef Jean, Mavis Staples, Los Lonely Boys and many others.

Why are you interested in helping the Literacy Council of Highlands?

Reading and writing are like breathing and eating – absolutely essential to a healthy, prosperous life.

An Evening with Phil Roy begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Martin-Lipscomb Performing Arts Center on Chestnut Street in Highlands. Near the end of the concert, children will be asked to join Phil on the stage for a Christmas carol sing-along and a gift from Santa. Admission is $20 for adults, $5 for children. Sponsorships, which include two tickets, are $100. Raffle tickets for some exciting prizes, including a trip for four to Gatlinburg, are six for $20. Please call the Literacy Council at (828) 526-0863 for tickets or more information.

Contributed by Tonya Hensley, Executive Director, Literacy Council of Highlands

Center for Life Enrichment

The leaves are falling, and frost, sprinkled like powdered sugar, glistens in the dawn light. The robins and snow birds are headed to warmer climes.

Parking spaces are easily found on Main Street. The remaining residents are hunkering down for the chill and snow of winter, thinking of warming besides fires and reading good books.

The Center for Life Enrichment is presenting two offerings in November to entice folks to come out, learn and enjoy.

On November 3rd at the Highlands Playhouse “W.E.,” a film co-written and directed by Madonna, will be shown by Rene Silvin, who was the historical consultant for the film. The film is described as a “British romantic drama” and tells the story of two women, Wally Winthrop and Wallis Simpson. Wally Winthrop is a woman in New York in 1998 who is fascinated by the famous love story resulting in King Edward VIII’s abdication of the throne in 1936 and subsequent marriage to Simpson. The movie goes back and forth between the actual romance and Wally’s preoccupations. Yet, it is much more than that as it chronicles the slow unraveling of the Windsors’ imagined perfect lives.

The film has received mixed reviews, but this CLE evening is not just about the film. Rene Silvin is known as a foremost authority on the Duke and Duchess and has published “Noblesse Oblige, The Duchess of Windsor as I Knew Her.” Silvin will display and discuss actual photos of the events depicted in the movie. Popcorn and beverages will be available. The movie will be screened at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, November 3rd, at Highlands Playhouse. Cost is $15.

On November 10th, CLE will take part in the Culinary Festival Weekend. CLE and Western Carolina University are joining hands to present a panel discussion on nutrition and dietetics called “Home Grown vs. Store Bought.” WCU professor Brenda Marques and a panel of students will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of buying vs. growing food. With the proliferation of modified grains, increasing use of pesticides and commercial fertilizers, as well as additives proposed to enhance health, it’s easy to be confused about what’s being put on our tables. Join us at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, November 10th, at the Martin-Lipscomb Performing Arts Center. The session is free and open to the public.

Contributed by Bettie S. Banks

Happy 10th Year Anniversary IFC!

The International Friendship Center’s 10th anniversary celebration featured a piñata for the kids and food and dancing for everyone.

The International Friendship Center celebrated its 10th anniversary with a community party September 23rd at the Highlands Community Building.

Attendees enjoyed delicious food prepared and served by El Azteca Mexican Restaurant, danced, listened to music and shared some celebratory birthday cake. The kids also enjoyed piñatas, balloons and face painting.

Founded in October of 2002 by the Presbyterian and Episcopal churches of Highlands, the IFC provides a variety of important services to the local and international communities of the Highlands area.

It collaborates with the Highlands United Methodist Church on a food pantry for people in need, with the Literacy Council of Highlands to teach English as a second language classes for non-native English speakers, it provides information on local and government agencies, notary public services and much more.

Its mission is to reach out to the underserved local and international populations with respect, compassion and information; to foster harmony, and to facilitate access to human services.

For more information on the International Friendship Center, call (828) 526-0890, extension 252, or stop by the Peggy Crosby Center on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays.

Contributed by Faviola Olvera

The Cullasaja Mentor Organization

The Cullasaja Club of Highlands recently announced formation of the Cullasaja Mentor Organization for the purpose of mentoring Business School students of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.

An introductory dinner was held on September 10th at Cullasaja attended by 50 participants. Pictured here from left to right are Founders Dan Lyles, Program Administrator Jennifer Williams of Western Carolina University, and Wayne Jones.

CWO Gives to Performing Arts

Stevie Hinel from the Cullasaja Women’s Outreach Grant Committee presents Ronnie Spilton, Highlands PAC Youth Theater Artistic Director, with a check for a grant awarded to the PAC Youth Theater Program.  The PAC Board of Directors appreciates the support and commitment the CWO gives to the Highlands Cashiers community.  The PAC Youth Theater Program provides the youth of the area with a comprehensive theater arts education and theater experience.

HUMC’s Red Shirt Brigade

For the past several years, members of the United Methodist Church throughout the world have made a concerted effort to increase the ways that they share their faith. They set out to make a marked difference in their communities through a campaign that is entitled “Change the World-Rethink Church.” Each church has developed unique initiatives designed to have the greatest impact in their local community.

Highlands United Methodist Church members are actively involved throughout the community and in various missions in Bolivia, Bosnia, and Haiti, plus supporting various missionaries, but they wanted to do more. So, on Saturday, November 3rd, they will again don their red shirts and spread into the Highlands Community to say “God loves you and I do too” to all their friends and neighbors here on the Plateau.  Entitled “Impact Day” the project encompasses a multitude of opportunities for church members to interact with their fellow Highlanders.

Local  Chairperson Jayme Christy says, “Each and every day we all help our neighbors, but Impact Day is a single day each year when our Church members join together in a concerted effort to do just a little more.”  “Our first Impact Day was in 2010 and we received such strong positive feedback from the community that we felt super-energized.”

The HUMC Impact Day involves something for members of all ages. Youngsters gather their red wagons filled with homemade cookies to pass out special “Thank You” gifts to Main Street merchants. Teens and young adults may be found bagging groceries and carrying packages to cars for older adults, drying cars when they exit the car wash, picking up litter on Highlands’ streets, and cleaning the yards of shut-ins. The residents of Fidelia Eckerd Living Center and Chestnut Hill Retirement Facility are sure to enjoy a good old-fashioned Hymn Sing courtesy of the members of the HUMC Chancel Choir. Cards and notes of appreciation are always appreciated by our military service members who are serving throughout the globe plus packages of home-baked items really bring a smile when opened by college students who are away at school.

Beth Bowser, HUMC’s Associate Pastor, told me, “Our folks feel so blessed each and every day that we want to share those blessings throughout our community. We hope our efforts will cause others to share their faith in demonstrable ways, making Highlands an even better place than it is today.”

Whether you are a member of Highlands United Methodist Church or not, you can be a part of the HUMC Impact Day.  Call the Church Office at (828) 526-3376 and tell them you want to participate. Then show up on Saturday, November 3rd at 9:00 a.m.  You’ll join a team of members and set out to Impact Highlands.

by Wiley Sloan


Hospice Helping Celebrate 107 Years

Hair soft as dandelion fluff, a sense of humor, contagious laugh, resilience, dedicated sense of service, and 107 years of living:  Put them together and you have Hospice patient Helen King.  Miss Helen, who volunteered at Fidelia Eckerd until age 99, became a resident there in time to celebrate her 100th birthday.  At 105 she entered Hospice, who have helped her celebrate 107 with an equal number of roses and balloons.

Miss Helen does not remember her age when she married George King.  But she does remember living in Pakistan with him where he worked for PanAm.  The couple never had children, but fostered a 9-year-old, brought him to the states, and put him through school.  She nursed “my George” at home for 10 years until he died at 93.  She would even crawl into his hospital bed at night.

Miss Helen always wore a dress and hose and often hats.  “A lady always wears dresses.” She taught Sunday School at Highlands First Baptist for years and attended church well after her 100th birthday.  For many years she did handiwork for school fundraising.  She still receives letters inviting her to high school reunions in her hometown of Trenton, MO.  She laughs and says, “Heavens no!”

Miss Helen attributes her longevity to exercise, oatmeal, chicken tenders, and “eating like a bird.”  Giving hugs has helped her life as well.  “That keeps me going,” she says.  “You’ve just got to do it.”  When asked her age, she responds, “Oh, I guess around 35.”  Steve Mills, Director of Hospice, says, “You look good for 35.” Miss Helen slaps her knee and lets out a long, “Whooooooweee!”

Always spunky, Miss Helen would make it known if she did not like something.  And then laugh some more.  Four Seasons Hospice of WNC is here to make sure things are to her liking.  The Chaplain comes for prayer.  The Medical Director works with her primary care physician. The job of Hospice, says Mills, is “taking care of folks in whatever place they call home.”  Miss Helen looks at him, laughs, and says, “I like you’uns.”

Contributed by Diane McPhail