Peg and Sandy…How My Mom Beat the Super Storm

Contributed by Dr. Sue Aery, Aery Chiropractic & Acupuncture (828) 526-1022

On the eve of Hurricane Sandy, then anticipated to be the largest hurricane in decades, my 86-year-old mother, Peg, was preparing her home for the hit. I grew up in the NYC suburb of Caldwell, New Jersey. It’s a small town with winding roads and large trees. The houses are relatively small except for some larger and newer replacements of the original smaller cape cods built in the early fifties. Our house is nestled among some large oaks, tulips, cedars and beautiful silver birch trees. Since my dad died in 2000, my mom has lived by herself and is quite self-sufficient. She is in good health, slowed a bit by a heart attack back in 2006, when I first lived in North Carolina. She recovered well, changed her diet, and continued exercising for her health. She still plays a weekly game of tennis at a tiny tennis club, two courts built a long time ago between two homes in our neighborhood.

When I spoke with her on Sunday night, the day before Sandy was to hit land, she was busying herself checking flashlights, candles, food, firewood, her cell phone, and filling her bathtub in case she lost water. She does not have a generator as many of her neighbors do, but she told me that she would be “just fine” without one. Her kitchen has a gas stove and is located in the middle of the house. She told me that if the power goes out and the storm is fierce, she would just plant herself in the kitchen to stay safe and warm. I thought maybe we should travel to New Jersey to be with her but she assured me that she would be safe and well taken care of by my brother, not too far away, and her wonderful neighbors who keep an eye on her every day.

We reminded her to plug in her old phone, the one without the batteries, that she should be able to use even if the power goes out. She had plenty of firewood to stoke her small but efficient fireplace in the family room. She was worried about the birds as they flitted noisily about before the storm hit.

The storm did hit hard the next day and we finally got in touch with her later that day on her cell phone. She had lost both power and phone service but she was fine. Her car was snug in the garage, as she was unable to open the garage door. This was Monday, October 29th and one week later the power has still not been restored. She has fed herself, my brother, nieces and a nephew. She has checked on her best friend, Val, 88, in the next town. She has cleaned up the “sticks” in the yard, fed the birds, and now makes daily trips to Shop Rite as her remaining food has spoiled. She even made her appointment with her chiropractor to work on her tennis elbow! We suggested days ago that we bring her down here for the duration but she said, “No, I’m fine and my friends need me here.” This is my mom, and I am not only amazed by her strength and fortitude but I am also proud of her resilience! My brother said just yesterday, “She is amazing and doing just fine.” Normally I preach good health but this lesson is, don’t ever let a devastating hurricane or adversity get you down; handle it just like Peg did! Take it one day at a time and embrace the challenge of a wonderful life and the love of those around you. Keep your health strong so that no matter your age, you can handle a real challenge.

Here Comes Santa Claus!

I don’t know about you, but I simply cannot believe that another year is coming to an end. Someone once said to me that the days go slow, but the years go fast.  The older I get, the more true that statement seems to be.

With 2012 rapidly winding down and the holiday season upon us, I like to take some time and reflect upon the year and the blessings in my life.  I am reminded of how precious the time is that we have with our loved ones and how life is not about the items in our inbox, but rather the experiences we share and the memories we make with those who are most important to us.

As we head into the season of giving, it seems that we spend so much time and money finding that perfect thing for the people in our lives.  In many cases, those “things” fall by the wayside only to be replaced by something newer or better next year.  Now, I am not suggesting that everyone turn into Mr. Scrooge.  There is something wonderful in giving to those we love.  There is something magical to seeing the joy on the faces of children when they discover that Santa Claus made a stop by their house even though they may not have been nice to their little brother or eaten all their broccoli.

What I am suggesting, however, is that we spend more time making memories that will last a lifetime, and less time worrying about the gift that may not survive to next year… especially when you have kids like mine whom I have lovingly nicknamed “The Destroyers!”

This year, my family has decided to forego gift giving.  Instead, we are all going to spend a week together on vacation.  Now, I know I am blessed to live in Highlands along with my parents and my sister and brother-in-law.  I see my family every day.  However, like many families, we don’t often spend much quality time together because of all the chaos of life.  This short break will give us the opportunity to make memories that we will always cherish and have experiences that enhance our lives and our relationships with each other.

Life is, after all, not the destination, but the journey.

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Contributed by Bryan & Tricia Cox – CruiseOne, Independent Vacation, Specialists, (828) 356-7920, TheCruiseFinders.com

Santa Stalker

Oh, yes, Virginia, he’s real. Bowlful-of-jelly real. Nose-like-a-cherry real. I assure you, Santa Claus is justifiably, certifiably, verifiably, in-your-eye-ably legit. How do I know this? I am… the Santa Stalker (insert creepy music here).

Sneaking around the Santa Complex is a cinch ever since global warming set in. Polar thaws have opened up new Wally World trade routes to China. Some of them pass right by the Santa sector. Arctic travel is so easy now I have made frequent trips via paddleboat. Ayup, just me and my trusty night-vision glasses. And my gazillion-X telephoto lens, guaranteed to produce exceptional grainy photos from 100 miles away. Spying on Santa has become a piece of Christmas cake.

But undercover work can be hazardous. Like now, for example: LOOK OUT FOR THAT MAMMOTH GLACIAL CHUNK!! It wasn’t just big. It actually had a mammoth in it.  I won’t lie to you. Bobbing hunks of meltdown play havoc with a paddleboat.

But I am willing to take my chances as long as the tabloids eat up my stories. They can’t seem to get enough of them. They are especially fond of Rudolph trash-talk. That buck sure knows how to get down. Booty cam on overtime. And, with a modicum of modesty I must say, it’s not just my photos that sizzle, my stories are outstanding in a field… left field, maybe, but a field nonetheless.

Last year The National Expirer submitted my scoop, “Santa Does Snow” for a Pulitzer. I caught Jolly Ol’ St. Nick snorting the white stuff right out of the air. Then some jerk proved it really was snow. All was not lost though. I won the Pullet Surprise.  I am dabomb.com with Rhode Island Reds.

But my biggest reveal was Santa’s real estate fiasco. When the market was booming, Nick (he said I could call him that as long as I promised not to publish news of his contract with Weight Watchers… oops) bought a million acres at the South Pole at a hugely inflated price. Glacier Realty s-l-o-w-l-y saw him coming. Economy fail. He had to bail. Just as whale, I mean well. News of his being bipolar might have been more than the public could bear.

So keep your eyes glued to the supermarket rags for my latest scoop of Santa dirt. And do what I do: Hang your stalkings with care. Don’t get too Santa-mental. And keep your Bering Strait!

Outta sight and to all a good night.

by Donna Rhodes

 

The Lost Art of Biscuit Making

The original biscuit was a flat cake that was put back in the oven after being removed from its tin, hence the French name “bis” (twice) “cuit” (cooked). This very hard, dry biscuit was the staple for sailors and soldiers for centuries.

Feathery, light biscuits originated in Southern plantation kitchens, but are now popular throughout the United States. Rolled biscuits were a staple at most meals, but beaten biscuits became another Southern favorite. Beaten biscuits are made light by beating air into the dough with a mallet or a rolling pin (up to 100 strokes “or more for company”). Beaten biscuits are typically thinner and crispier than baking powder biscuits.

The art of biscuit making is quickly becoming a thing of the past.  I remember my grandmother making biscuits daily.  She would use buttermilk and lard and I would quickly sneak a raw biscuit because at that age I preferred the raw dough.  I still love biscuits and at every opportunity search for a hot, buttery biscuit.

On a recent dinner trip to Happ’s I was thrilled when the bread basket arrived with cheese biscuits.  Kathy Fox, the chef who has apprenticed for the past 17 years under Happ, makes her biscuits from scratch.  When I ask her what the secret ingredient was, she stated, “Butter, not lard.”  All I know was I left the restaurant with four biscuits for breakfast.  My next stop for the perfect biscuit was Dusty’s.  They sell prepackaged biscuits, cheese, plain and garlic cheese.  Now I really like these because I can take them home and cook and no one knows that I did not make them.  My freezer always has about three packs since you never know who will drop by.  Main Street Inn was a pleasant surprise as well and served sausage gravy with their biscuits.  Now I was sure that there was an elderly granny in the kitchen making biscuits but I only found Aida who spoke English “muy poco.”

The only problem was that no one would give me their recipe so I went to the Queen of Southern cooking, Paula Deen and here is her recipe.  Tell me what you think.

Servings: about three dozen biscuits

Cook Time: 12 min

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking  powder

1 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons butter,  cubed

3/4 cup milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Cut butter into mixture until it begins to look like cornmeal.

Make a well with flour mixture and slowly add milk into the middle. Knead dough with your fingers and add milk when necessary. Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to desired thickness. Cut with small biscuit cutter.

Butter bottom of skillet and place biscuits in pan. Bake for twelve minutes or until golden brown.

Everyday is a Holiday for a Rescued Pet

The dogs, cats and horses at the Forever Farm want to thank everyone for keeping the Friends for Life mission alive through your donations. They really don’t know that Christmas is coming, but I believe they are truly grateful for the gifts of a warm place to sleep, healthy meals, and a loving human touch. They don’t understand what veterinary care costs, but they do know when they are no longer in pain.   Some may miss the homes and families they once had – but most are very happy to be at the Forever Farm. They are free to be out in the sunny fields or porches, play with their friends, or to snuggle inside in their beds.  Our two happy horses can stand in their stalls all day  or can trot out to their pasture whenever they want.

Our old Quarter Horse, Dewey, thanks me every day for his rescue when he nickers at my approach.  Likewise, when a cat jumps in my lap, or a dog runs up to me with a “smile” on his face, I am thanked beyond words for creating the Forever Farm.  I hope that everyone that has helped: the staff, the Board members, the volunteers and those that provide financial support, feel that gratitude as well.

One hundred and seventy animals live happily at the the Forever Farm thanks to your support. Please visit our website: www.friendsforlifeforeverfarm.org and take the Visual Tour of our sanctuary in Lake Toxaway. Read the stories about some of our special residents and consider giving an online donation to help us continue to provide hope for senior and special needs animals.  We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization, and your gift is tax deductible.  For information call Friends for Life at (828) 508-2460.

Contributed by Kathy Bub, Executive Director, Forever Farms

2012, the Year of Manifested Dreams

The song that keeps running through my mind as my fingers run across the keyboard is, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

As the holiday season draws near it seems a most appropriate sentiment. However, for those of us lucky enough to live in Highlands year-round and especially those of us at Carpe Diem Farms, we believe every season, every day, is the “most wonderful time of the year!”

Every December while extending our blessings and well wishes for joy-filled holidays and a prosperous and healthy New Year it seems fitting to share our year in review. It has been an incredible year of blessings and happenings on the farm!

“Easy’s Slipper,” our therapeutic horseshoe, has received its full trademarked name and mark registration. We still await the final patent approval and know that it is forthcoming. We will be very excited to take our shoe to market in the late spring of 2013 so that horses everywhere will be able to reap the benefits and healings we have had here on the farm. We’ve had the opportunity to help a few horses outside our test group working together with local veterinarian Dr. Al Caudle.

In preparation for the 20th anniversary celebration of our foundation and the 15th anniversary of CDF (the farm itself), we booked country western superstar John Michael Montgomery. Local volunteers designed and constructed an incredible timber frame pavilion on the former tipi platform. Little did we know that this wonderful new farm venue would be first used as a wedding, mine, August 11th, to Jack Conway. The finishing touches were completed the night before!

On October 6th, John Michael and his traveling band took to the stage for an afternoon concert, followed that evening with another magical performance and a meet-and-greet with the attendees. The evening celebration followed with dinner in the magnificently transformed arena. Tim Lundy and his Distinctive Event team outdid themselves. The crystal chandeliers hanging from the rafters, candlelit tables adorned in white silk over burlap, filled with crystal and silver and the spectacular flowers brought applause and cheers at the reveal. The setting, recording artist David Scott, a spellbinding performance by equine Battersea Knightstar and a palate-pleasing dinner made it a night to remember. Many in the crowd were there when we began and remembered from whence we started. All who have volunteered, donated, and participated over the years have made Carpe Diem Farms what it is today. We are humbled by the support and generosity and look forward with great anticipation to our next twenty years!

May you and yours have a blessed holiday. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

Carpe Diem Farms is a 501©(3) not-for-profit foundation located five miles down the Buck Creek Road in Highlands. We can be reached by calling (828) 526-2854.

Contributed by Sue Blair, Carpe Diem Farms Executive Director

The Rotary Flyer

Rotary parade members prepare to march with Santa.

Highlands’ Christmas parade is a tradition that brings residents and visitors to Main Street every December.  It is an eclectic mix of all things Highlands, from emergency vehicles, to classic cars, to floats representing both merchants and service organizations.  There are musicians and walkers and dancers and pets on parade.  Any individual or organization is welcome to participate.  All that is needed is registration to receive a position number in line.  It seems that the participants and the crowd lining the parade route grow larger each year.

Bringing up the rear, as you might expect, is Santa and Mrs. Claus, whose arrival is anticipated by children of all ages.  Riding on the sleigh decorated by the Rotary Club of Highlands, and escorted by Rotarians, Santa greets the crowd with a “Ho, Ho, Ho” and a heartfelt “Merry Christmas!”  The sleigh itself was built many years ago by Rotary members, and is known as the “Rotary Flyer.”  In the early years it was pulled by Rotarians, but a few close calls controlling Santa’s ride on hills along the parade route led to its being pulled more recently by a vehicle.  While Santa holds the attention of the onlookers, his Rotarian helpers hand out traditional Christmas goodies.

It is appropriate that the Rotary Club has the honor of escorting the jolly old elf.  Like Santa, Rotarians are in the business of sharing with others.  Individually and collectively they are true to their motto, “Service Above Self.”  Also like Santa, their efforts, directly or indirectly, are directed to children and families throughout the Highlands community.  Rotary’s donations to various worthy non-profit organizations, its participation in community events and the time its members spend individually volunteering in the community makes it a good fit to help welcome Santa to Highlands each Christmas season.

The Rotary Club of Highlands wishes all residents and visitors a wonderful holiday season!

Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust

The Silverleaf Hydrangea

This article is one that requires you to think about a warmer and earlier time than December. Have you ever been driving along a road at night and keep noticing a flash of silver from amongst plants growing along the side of the road? No it’s not your night vision going haywire, you are seeing the underside of the leaves of the shrub, silverleaf  hydrangea. This plant, also called Hydrangea radiata (or sometimes Hydrangea arborescens ssp. radiata) is one of our special natives in Western North Carolina.

Perhaps the most well known hydrangea is the white to blue flowered Annabelle Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens). The flowers of the silverleaf hydrangea are very different from the foot-wide snowballs of the Annabelle and are more of the lacecap floral display. These native shrubs are a great addition to a garden and the flowers hold up well in rain.

The genus Hydrangea is a common ornamental plant and is found in North and South America and eastern and southern Asia.  The dehiscent capsules, sometimes in the shape of a Grecian water jar, gave rise to the genus name; hydro, water and angeion, a vessel, Hydrangea.

The plant was used by the Cherokee and early American settlers to treat calculus, also known as kidney stones. Some preliminary studies have investigated the members of the genus Hydrangea for antifungal, antimalarial, blood sugar lowering, and male pattern baldness properties. A comment in Krochmal’s A Guide to Medicinal Plants of the USA,” for Hydrangea radiata is “A decoction of the roots and other materials was given to women who had unusual dreams.” However, there is not enough evidence available to support the use of hydrangea extracts for treatment in humans.

To find out how the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust works to conserve habitat for this species and others contact us at (828) 526-1111 or visit our website at www.hicashlt.org.

Contributed by Gary Wein, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust

Shelter Without Walls

CHHS has launched a new animal foster care program called “Shelter Without Walls.” We are currently looking for animal-loving families in our community who would like to provide temporary in-home care and comfort for dogs, cats, puppies and kittens. With additional homes for foster care, we can stretch our resources and save the lives of more animals at any given time, and thus create a “Shelter Without Walls.”

Animals who are ideal candidates for our new Shelter Without Walls program will be puppies and kittens too young to be spayed/neutered for adoption, animals who have some special medical needs whose recovery would be more comfortable in a home environment, and adoptable dogs and cats on our waiting list who just need a little bit of time until space is available at our no-kill shelter.

If you love animals, but are unable to take on the permanent commitment of lifetime adoption, then foster parenting is the perfect alternative! CHHS will provide the food, any necessary medications, and counseling and support for your foster pet. For more information on Shelter Without Walls, please call (828) 743-5752.

Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society is located on Highway 64, 2.3 miles east of the Cashiers Crossroads behind Reid Real Estate. Shelter hours are 10:00 a.m. – 4 :00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Visit CHHS online at www.chhumanesociety.org to see pictures and descriptions of all the adorable, adoptable dogs and cats looking for forever homes. From the home page of the website you can also follow CHHS on Facebook, see CHHS on YouTube, make donations online, and even sign up for the free CHHS e-newsletter, PAWsitive News.

Established in 1987, Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society is a private 501(c)(3) not-for-profit animal welfare organization and no-kill shelter that receives no federal, state, or county tax dollars, and no funding from the Humane Society of the United States. CHHS relies solely on donations, grants, bequests and special events to further our mission of rescue, compassionate care, and finding forever homes for abandoned and neglected animals.

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

IFC Year in Review

I

The International Friendship Center partnered with the Bascom-Center for the Arts allowing 11 children to participate in bi-monthly art classes.

t turned out to be quite a busy year for the International Friendship Center. We started 2012 with a smaller office and the retirement of our Executive Director of nine years, Jill Montana. Not to be deterred we forged ahead and had a successful year.

With our partnership with the Literacy Council of Highlands and Southwestern Community College, free English as a Second Language classes were expanded from once a week to twice a week and over 20 men and women logged in more than 1,000 learning hours this year.

The Food Pantry of Highlands, which is a project of the International Friendship Center and Highlands United Methodist Church, provided food to over 250 families representing over 1,000 individuals.  There were more than 2,000 visits by these families; those visits represented over 11,500 individuals.

With a generous grant from the Cullasaja Women’s Organization, eight low-income women in our community were able to obtain their First Aid and CPR certification with the American Red Cross.

With our partnership with the Bascom-Center for the Arts, 11 children were able participate in bi-monthly art classes during the spring and fall.

With our partnership with the Presbyterian Church of Highlands an average of 40 local families received additional food once a month with TEFAP, The Emergency Food Assistance Program.

At our office located at the Peggy Crosby Center, we provided hundreds of services to families and individuals. Services like notary public services, document translation, interpretation and other vital resource information and we worked closely with local organizations like the Community Care Clinic and the Free Dental Clinic in Cashiers.

We look forward to another great year and with your support for our mission we can continue to reach out and help those most in need in our community.

Call us at (828) 526.0890 x 252 or 290 for more information or e-mail us at centrodeamigos@nctv.com.

Contributed by Faviola Olvera

 

Valley Garden Club News

1990 – “Candy Cane Christmas Tree”

The Valley Garden Club extends hearty wishes for a Merry Christmas and a productive New Year to the entire community. The theme for this year’s Christmas parade is “Sing-a-long.” We hope to see everyone there. The VGC has participated in the Cashiers Christmas Parade since 1987.

Contributed by Kathie Blozan

Highlands NC Biological Station

Summer Camp at Highlands Biological Station

Founded in 1927 by visionary citizens of the town of Highlands who recognized the biological significance of the Highlands Plateau, the Highlands Biological Station is the oldest biological field station in the Southeast.  HBS acquired its first laboratory for scientific research in 1931 and, since that time, scientists based at the Station have made signification contributions in a number of fields, particularly in the study of salamander biology, plant ecology, mycology, and aquatic ecology.  HBS is renowned within the academic community for these outstanding contributions.

Did you know?

• Each year HBS hosts researchers and biology classes from around the country and the world

• Thousands of students have taken advantage of HBS-based learning opportunities

• HBS is credited in hundreds of scientific publications in scholarly journals

• Over 100 Masters theses and Doctoral dissertations from universities throughout the country have been based on work conducted at HBS

• HBS sponsors a competitive research grant program annually, which has awarded nearly half a million dollars to student researchers over the past 20 years

• HBS offers public lectures, natural history exhibits at the Nature Center, demonstration gardens, and children’s programs all focused on the region’s unique ecosystems

In response to HBS’ continued growth, renovation of the main Coker Laboratory began in 2012 to double classroom and laboratory space on campus. Laboratory work is important in the pursuit of discovery, and fieldwork is necessary to confirm the results of laboratory investigations, which are conducted under controlled conditions that cannot account for variations that occur in nature.  The ability to go out into the field and collect real-time data is invaluable.  All HBS users depend upon the scientific equipment owned by HBS to accurately and efficiently conduct their fieldwork.  Unfortunately, due to budget cutbacks over the past several years, HBS has been unable to keep up with the demand for new equipment and the need to replace old or damaged equipment.  HBS finds itself a field station with new laboratory facilities but without the necessary equipment to conduct fieldwork.

You can help!  How?  This year for the holidays you can “Give for Gear” in the name of a loved one, and help provide much needed equipment to HBS.  By doing so, you are not only giving a meaningful gift but are also directly supporting important research and education on the Highlands Plateau.  HBS needs everything from forceps to sift through soil samples to water quality testing kits.  The Highlands Biological Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to which all donations are tax-deductible.  For your donation you will receive a letter for income tax purposes and an acknowledgement letter.  To receive these letters in time for the holidays, please make your donation by December 12th.  For more information on how to “Give for Gear” and donate field equipment in someone’s name to HBS, visit www.highlandsbiological.org/give-for-gear/ or call (828) 526-2221.  Or visit our office located at 265 North Sixth Street in Highlands.

Contributed by Michelle Ruigrok

Danny Boy and The Healing Harp

Beth Hunter, Four Seasons Therapeutic Harpist

The first time she saw him, he was playing the accordion and singing “Danny Boy.”  They will be married 50 years in March. Now Irene and Gordon Boynton both live at the Fidelia-Eckerd Living Center in Highlands and Gordon is being served by Four Seasons Hospice. Although his disease significantly limits his ability to communicate, he still sings “Danny Boy,” at least on occasion.

One of those occasions was during a recent visit from Beth Hunter, a Hospice volunteer who brings music to the patients of Four Seasons Hospice.  Beth, an accomplished harpist, describes what she does as “healing music.”  The effectiveness of live music for patients over recorded music is well established. Music can reach the patient in places that words cannot.  It certainly reached Gordon that afternoon as Beth played and he broke into his favorite song for Irene.

As a harpist, Beth brings to the Hospice process an instrument revered from biblical times and before for its soothing and comforting tones.  The harp has been central to the healing music of the Irish and Celtic traditions.  The pure, ethereal tones of the harp also evoke what Dr. Herbert Benson of Boston calls “the relaxation response.”

Beth is a professional musician.  She is certified with the International Healing Musician’s Program of the National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians.  Beth provides therapeutic harp for hospice patients at the Fidelia Eckerd Living Center and Chestnut Hill Assisted Living Center in Highlands, as well as other facilities in the region.

Irene Boynton smiles her soft contented smiles as she reminisces with me about her life with Gordon.  He was always singing, she said.  And played several instruments, including the organ, which she learned to play just by watching him. As she is sharing memories with me, Gordon comes down the hall in his walker.  He is quiet, studying these strangers with his wife.  Irene asks him if he will sing “Danny Boy” for her, but we seem to lack the motivating tones of the harp.  She reaches from her wheel chair and caresses his hand, “This is still my sweetheart,” she says, and his face beams.

Contributed by Diane McPhail

Cullasaja Women’s Outreach

Cullasaja Women’s Outreach (CWO) has announced the results of its 2012 efforts to raise funds for charitable and not-for-profit organizations in the Highlands and Cashiers communities. Through a combination of direct grants totaling $62,000 and individual member-directed donations of $28,850, the women’s group raised $90,850 this past season. Since its inception in 2006, Cullasaja Women’s Outreach has given well over $500,000 to the Highlands and Cashiers area not-for-profits—a phenomenal amount for a grassroots organization made up of about 80 women from the Cullasaja Club community.

The highlight of this year’s fundraising was a progressive dining fundraiser along the homes of the Lake Villas Way in the Cullasaja Club. The community event brought CWO members and their families into the spirit of giving. The fundraiser was attended by a 140 generous donors from the Cullasaja Club. Funds from the event were awarded to 19 area organizations in CWO grants totaling $62,000. Individual awards ranged from $500 to $5,000, following a thoughtful grants process headed up by CWO Grant Co-chairs Joy Abney and Stevie Hinel. This year’s grant recipients included: the Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic, Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society, Community Care Clinic of Highlands-Cashiers, Fishes and Loaves Food Pantry, Girls on the Run of Western NC, Highlands Biological Station, Highlands-Cashiers Community Child Development Center, Highlands Emergency Council, Highlands Historical Society, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, Highlands Plateau/Greenway, the Hudson Library, International Friendship Center, IFC/Food Pantry, Literacy Council of Highlands, the Martin-Lipscomb Performing Arts Center’s Youth Program, The Peggy Crosby Center and The Bascom.

Working with the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, CWO established a CFWNC-CWO Charities fund. This special fund allows members to designate the recipients of their donations directly, or to make donations to the CWO Charities General Fund, which are disbursed each fall when the organization completes its annual grant process.

“The outpouring of love and generosity for the broader Highlands-Cashier community by our members has been phenomenal,” noted 2012 President Gail Hughes. “We are an independent grassroots organization—about 80 women strong—who share a mission of reaching-out to each other and to the community through philanthropy, volunteerism and friendship. The fact that we raised over $500,000 for the Highlands-Cashiers community in six years is truly an accomplishment! We are determined to build a legacy of love and sharing that grows stronger each year.”

Contributed by Margaret Eichman

Bel Canto Gives Back

The sweet music of these second-graders is nurtured by the generosity of Bel Canto.

The 20th annual Bel Canto performance was a great success musically and financially. Thanks to the generosity of its patrons the Bel Canto Committee awarded grants to its beneficiaries totaling $32,500. Benefiting were the music programs at both the Highlands School and the Child Development Center and the permanent collection of The Bascom.

Bel Canto brings great vocal stars to Highlands who perform popular operatic and Broadway arias for its patrons. Stell Huie, Chair of Bel Canto, says of the performances: “Our artists provide the finest in vocal music to be heard in Highlands each year. Bel Canto performances are to opera and Broadway as the heart is to the watermelon.” The next performance will be held on Sunday, September 8th, 2013 – the Sunday after Labor Day. If you would like to be notified, please drop a note to Bel Canto at PO Box 2392, Highlands, NC 28741.

 

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 www.catman2.org.

 

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 www.highlandsculinaryweekend.com 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 www.highlandsculinaryweekend.com 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 Danielle@warthconstruction.com 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 info@JCGEP.org for hours and directions. Check out Aaron’s fall beginner glass class schedule at www.jcgep.org. Or visit Aaron’s website at www.aaronshufelt.com.

 

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 www.TheBascom.org.

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 djhunter@dnet.net.

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 www.highlandspac.org 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 www.wildthymegourmet.com.  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: www.highlandshistory.com.

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 www.blackrockrg.com.

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 mtnyogins@gmail.com.

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 TheCruiseFinders.com

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.

D’oh!

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
Shakespeare?”

“Freedom! Horrible, horrible
freedom!”

“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!

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