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editor Sherrie Norris 828.264.3612 ext. 251

marketing Stacey Gibson

writers Corrinne Loucks Assad Genevieve Austin June W. Bare Heather Young Brandon Margaret Brannon Sharon Carlton Bonnie Church Jeff Eason Naomi Faw Christy Hamrick Heather W. Jordan Kelly Penick Sue Spirit Christie Wallin Teri Wiggans

production Jennifer Canosa Meleah Petty

design Jennifer Canosa Meleah Petty Rob Hampton

advertise 828.264.3612 ext. 271

cover photo by Candace Freeland

Any reproduction of news articles, photographs or advertising artwork is strictly prohibited without permission from management. ŠCopyright 2011 A Mountain Times Publication

contents nurture local happenings 7 heartfelt healing 10 moms’ world 12 your home 13 mother’s day 15 pets 17

inspire jan karon

30 18 pet adoption

pet adoption 18 equestrian club 21 lisa totherow 22 belly dancers 24 melanie hollar 26 jan karon 30

create cuisine 34 by the book 37 poet’s corner 38

24 belly dancers


melanie hollar

ghost country 40 tanzania 42 lease or purchase 44 high country courtesies 46 hiking 48 young at heart 50 beauty 52 healthy lady 54

26 22 lisa totherow



editor’s note

I am amazed how we, as writers, are inspired to find the right words. Sometimes, ideas seem to just drop out of the sky. At other times, they couldn’t be pried from a mangled piece of metal with a crowbar. Having passed my deadline for this column, and knowing there were dozens of relative topics that I could easily address, it was at the funeral of a very dear friend that I received my latest – and possibly most profound – inspiration ever.

angels with broken wings

Up until that pivotal moment, I had been rushing through spring like a mad woman, trying to spread myself from one good cause to another, from one deadline to the next, without giving anything my best effort. I felt so undone. Something, besides my friend, Angela Church McCoury, was missing from my life, I quickly realized. Surrounded by dozens of mourners – all experiencing our own personal grief and wondering who in the world would ever take her place in our lives, it was Angie, herself, through something she had left behind, that helped put it all into perspective. As Mandy Poplin stood before the grief-stricken congregation of family members, close friends and business associates, sharing the Top 10 things that she had gleaned from 17 years of close friendship with one wise beyond her years, a light began to go off in my heart and mind. I sat there at the side of my wonderful husband thinking about the words that would be spoken at my own eulogy some day and hoped that someone would be touched by what was said, as all of us were impacted by those sentiments spoken about Angie. But the most thought-provoking part of Mandy’s tribute came from words that Angie, herself, had been inspired



to write in a poem, after discovering a little angel with broken wings, tucked inside a box of Christmas decorations. The angel, from Angie’s poem, had thought it was of no value to anyone or anything, since angels are known for their wings and this angel had a broken wing. It was only after getting so close to giving up completely, thinking that she would be of no use to anyone since she couldn’t fly, that the angel was reassured by God that she wasn’t put here on earth to fly, but rather, to sing. How like that angel with the broken wings we women often see ourselves. Just because we think we can’t do one thing well, certainly does not mean that we can’t do something else just as well – or even better. How many times do we feel like giving up when things do not go as we had hoped or planned? How many times do we ignore gifts and talents if they do not comply with expectations of ourselves and/or others? So what if we can’t fly, anymore? And some of us sure can’t sing. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have something even more wonderful to share. Don’t let a broken wing keep you from doing what you were sent here to do.

Inspired, yet again,

Sherrie Norris, Editor

local happenings | nurture

bits and clips

Free Skin Cancer Screening 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. May 6, sponsored by Appalachian Regional Healthcare System at Boone Dermatology Clinic, 169 Birch Street, Boone. Full-body check or spot-check for suspicious areas. No appointment necessary. Screenings done on a first come, first serve basis. For information, please call Boone Dermatology at (828) 264-4553 or visit:

Boone Service League Fashion Show & Silent Auction Saturday, May 14, 2011, at Chetola in Blowing Rock. Monies raised at this event support the organization’s work for the coming fiscal year. For more information, visit:

nurture | local happenings

2011 Mile of Flowers The Blowing Rock Garden Club will present the second Mile of Flowers Walking Tour and Symposium on Saturday, June 18, featuring nationally known garden writer and lecturer, Tony Avent. Ticket holders will also enjoy a continental breakfast and box lunch, self-guided walking tour of six lovely gardens, afternoon tea at the Rumple House and the new Mile of Flowers Boutique at Edgewood Cottage. The boutique will feature quilts, paintings and other items with a flower/garden theme hand-crafted by members of the Blowing Rock Garden Club. Tickets are limited and first come, first served. Early purchase is recommended. Mail check for $40 made out to “Mile of Flowers” along with names of attendees to: BRGC MOF, PO Box 2673, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 For more information, e-mail the Blowing Rock Garden Club at

Return to Mitford Jun 2 – 5, Downtown Blowing Rock Fundraiser for the Hayes Center, “Return to Mitford” celebrates the Mitford book series by Jan Karon. Many people consider Blowing Rock to be the inspiration for Mitford, and when you visit, you’ll see why. The event will include: · Lecture with Jan Karon at the Hayes Center. · Luncheon with Jan Karon at Chetola; menu from the Mitford Cookbook. · Readings by “Father Tim” (from the hit play “Journey to Mitford”) at the Hayes Center · A cocktail party with Jan Karon, Robert Inman and others

Photo by Linda Councill

For those of you who purchased the specially designed commemorative ring at Mitford Days, make sure you get matching earrings and a pendant at Gems by Gemini during Return to Mitford. Traditions Pottery and Tuckers will feature Mitford pottery pieces and Advent Walk Hot Apple Cider. For more information, visit

Blue Star Mothers The High Country Chapter of the Blue Star Mothers was honored to have Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson, (seated center), join its members during their April meeting, at which time she presented a proclamation declaring the week of Mother’s Day, May 8-14, as Blue Star Mothers of the High Country Week in Boone.



local happenings

Unhindered A (Nondenominational) Renewal For Women


May 13 & 14 Laurel Springs Baptist Church, Deep Gap Featuring keynote speaker Phyllis Elvington, busy wife and mother from Green Sea, S.C. Elvington is known for her energetic, uplifting and well prepared Bible studies, mission studies and prayer retreats in North and South Carolina. She is an awesome woman of God who loves to laugh. Don’t forget to bring your Bible. Schedule of events: Friday, May 13 Registration: 5:00 pm Meal: 5:30 pm Program: 6:15 pm Saturday, May 14 Breakfast: 8:30 am Program: 9:00 am Lunch: 12:00 pm Cost: $15 (make checks payable to TFBA) Pre-register by calling Pat Dalton at (828) 265-2794 or visiting Sponsored by the Women’s Missionary Union, Three Forks Baptist Association



nurture | heartfelt healing

Photo by Sebastian Fissore,

stillness in death valley I have never been to a desert environment, let alone in such an environment to camp for 10 days.

loads of sunscreen, hats with big brims, sunglasses and cool clothing. Stillness surrounded us.

I participated in a “Death Lodge,” focusing on apology, reconciliation and forgiveness. So imagine a Death Lodge in Death Valley. What does that mean?

We received information about the animals of the desert that we could encounter, scorpions being the No. 1 possibility. Then there were the side winding rattlesnakes, coyotes, kit foxes, pumas, owls, ravens, bats, bees and flies. I was met by bats, bees and flies and heard coyotes and owls at night, not unlike the High Country.

I walked up a mountain with sharp stones and soon found a path that would be like a deer path in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Who made this path? There were no deer, yet I was ecstatic I was safe on this pathway. In life, it is I who usually takes the path less traveled. This path was easy. How many paths had I not walked that would have been easier for me?

We all came with the intention of healing some part of ourselves that would open up space for being more connected with people in our lives that we had disconnected with or been angry with.

I retraced my steps and then took a different path back – only to find myself off the deer-like path and descending on a treacherous, steep, slippery slope with jagged rocks.

We headed into the south our first day. The south on the Medicine Wheel represents childhood, innocence, the physical, passion and any childhood wounds we may have buried deep down.

I had to pause frequently, placing my feet very gingerly in the next spot down. I guess I was meant to go this way as I found a deflated helium balloon stuck in the crevices of the rocks. The balloon was faded yet I could see the irises and the message, “Happy Mother’s Day.”

The death I was entertaining was not physical, but rather a death of old patterns that blocked me from living a full and joyful life. I was with 12 other participants, two leaders and three assistants with whom I opened my heart. I thought I would be surrounded by cacti. I didn’t see one my whole trip. Instead, I witnessed a dark sky with thousands of bright and twinkling stars, a crescent moon that lit our way in the darkness, stones and more stones, hard sandy ground, creosote bushes, and, did I mention, stones? During the day, the sky was mostly a cloudless bright blue and the sun was the most intense I have ever absorbed. There was no shade. We dressed in



I realized I was still holding onto the core belief that I was not worthy or acceptable – to myself or to others. So

I took that belief with me and let the environment speak.

How odd to be in the desert, eight miles from a small town and two and

heartfelt healing | nurture a half hours from Las Vegas, and find this message. As I did more reflection, I was able to put together a picture of why that message was for me. I discovered that my core belief of not feeling worthy or acceptable was more than likely inherited from my mother’s side of the family and passed to me as well as to my daughter, Jessica. It’s more obvious that the genes for such diseases as diabetes or high blood pressure can be passed down, but not so obvious that those beliefs of unworthiness or guilt or sadness can also be passed down. I knew from my knowledge of how the body heals that if I were to heal my own belief of feeling unworthy, it would also make a difference in both my mother’s and my daughter’s beliefs. Over the course of our 10 days in Death Valley, I was able to get in touch with my anger, sadness, guilt and shame throughout my life and release it to the desert.

I also told my stories with ruthless courage to our group and I was received wholeheartedly with love and acceptance. I surrendered to safety, love, acceptance and trust. In return, I received space to make stronger connections with those in my life I have distanced because I held the belief of unworthiness. I am feeling such joy and openness at this moment. Now what there is to do is to remain in touch with my feelings and stay in that space of true acceptance. I have radiated that throughout my maternal lineage. I say, “Happy Mother’s Day,” to my mother, Elizabeth, and to myself for being Jessica’s mother. This truly is a happy day for me.


Teri Wiggans, RN/MSN may be contacted at the Heartfelt Healing Center, 1064 Meadowview Drive in Boone; (828) 264-4443.

nurture | mom’s world

spring forward The winter blahs are now behind us and families are looking forward to getting out of school and into summer camps and the glory of living in such a beautiful place.

could find some long-sleeve shirts with cuffs that did not end at his forearm.

Just a few days ago, my children were in T-shirts and shorts and we were busy playing Pied Piper in the park with a ginormous bottle of bubbles.

Periodically, I would answer his calls through an open window to come see his progress. First, he proudly showed me how he had dug the hole in which to plant the driftwood. Then, it was the shells from the beach that were methodically pressed into the mud as decoration. Next, he demonstrated how he could break off some leaves from the abundant rhododendron bushes and stick them in the ground to grow.

As we blew, and the wind helped, dozens and dozens of bubbles danced into the air and a gaggle of children gathered to chase and pop until nearly the whole bottle had been emptied. The sun was out in full encouragement and everyone’s soul was uplifted.

My husband, Leslie, who has one of the greenest thumbs of anyone I know, ultimately was pulled into the gardening quest by Ben and began helping him. He dug up some small plants with their root systems, and Ben carefully replanted them in his plot.

But as I write these words, sipping on tea and gazing out the window, I am still in the midst of the springtime tease that is all too common in the mountains.

My youngest son, Ben, couldn’t get enough of being outdoors. Later in the weekend, he tromped over to the patch of dirt in our front yard that had been designated for kid excavation and Tonka dump truck removal and started to plant a piece of driftwood that he had found in the back yard. I was in the midst of going through size five hand-me-down clothing to see if I



Then, Ben started doing this himself, scouting out plants that had spilled out of the other plant beds and scooping them up with their roots to give them a new home in his garden. It did not matter to him if they were weeds. He lovingly planted them in a row and beamed with pride. I was delighted at his dedication and happy that my kids thoroughly enjoy the outdoors.

The next day, which happened to be the day after the Daylight Savings Time switch, my husband noted that our first daffodil of the year had shown its face. “March 14” he declared, marking the date in its significance as if it validated the springing forward of our clocks. Within 24 hours, I went for a run in the springtime rain, happy that it was not 20 degrees, but still missing the warmth of the sun. I returned home and did a double-take when, within an hour, the rain turned to heavy wet snow that somehow was not in any of the forecasts. Such is life in March in the mountains. Thankfully, the teases that come like that weekend do give us something to look forward to and power us onward as winter says its long, last goodbye. In the meantime, Ben is planning his next trip to Lowe’s to pick out more plants for his garden. I can’t wait to see it. ::::: Heather W. Jordan, CNM, MSN Comments or questions may be directed to Heather Jordan, certified nurse-midwife, at the office of Charles E. Baker, MD at 828-737-7711 x253 or e-mail her at

your home | nurture

under the same roof The family that prays together stays together. Or is that ‘plays’ together? Or, could it be ‘pays’ together? We may find it’s all of the above as families in today’s weak economy are pooling resources by moving back under the same roof or aiding family members who have lost their homes or found themselves unable to afford a home of their own. Many are living paycheck-to-paycheck these days. That is, if they have a

steady paycheck.

staying with family and friends.

More than 70 percent of local and state homeless coalitions have seen an increase in homelessness since foreclosures began to increase in 2007, according to a study by the National Coalition for the Homeless. Only 5 percent say they haven’t seen an increase.

If a loved one in need comes to you requesting a place to stay, most of the time, you’re going to say, “Yes.” However, there is a lot to consider and agreements to be made as to how this living arrangement will work.

The survey also found that more than 76 percent of homeowners and renters who must move due to foreclosures are

Are there pets to consider? How will bills be broken down or shared? Will there be split kitchen privileges or meal sharing? It all has to be worked out in advance.



nurture | your home From 2005 to 2009, family households added about 3.8 million extended family members, from adult siblings and inlaws to cousins and nephews. Extended family members now make up 8.2 percent of family households, up from 6.9 percent in 2005, according to current census data. Now, 3.6 million parents are living with their children.

Newly graduating college students: Recent grads are finding it more difficult to find jobs after college and many are finding that their degrees are no longer the ticket to the first rung of the ladder that they used to be.

More than 6.7 million people live with other family members such as aunts and uncles or cousins, compared to 4.8 million in 2000.

Divorcing couples: Despite financial difficulty having an adverse effect on marriages, the housing downturn may be curbing divorces.

Some demographic groups are feeling this more than others including firsttime homebuyers who purchased their homes during the housing boom years of 2000-2005 and older Americans who have been hit with foreclosures and job losses and who have less time to recover from the hit. Some examples:

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says it’s seeing divorce rates fall. Members responded that they’re seeing a drop in the number of divorce cases.

Seniors: Older Americans may lack the financial resources to buy another property while adult children who help pay for parents’ assisted living or other living arrangements are bringing their parents home because they can no longer afford the costs. Homeowners, age 50 and above, have been significantly affected by the mortgage crisis, according to an analysis by the American Association of Retired Persons. More than 684,000 homeowners, 50 and older, were delinquent, in foreclosure, or lost their homes during the last six months of 2010. Also, some family members are living with a senior parent because they can’t afford their own home. Young adults: About 40 percent of homebuyers were young, first-time buyers in 2004-05, according to the National Association of Realtors. They are also the most likely now to owe more on their homes than they are worth, according to a Moody’s Economy. com report on “underwater” mortgages. Many are trapped in mortgages they can’t afford, and cannot sell their homes in today’s market. A large number are going through foreclosure and then



moving back in with their parents. This includes middle-aged as well as young adults.

This is partly because couples used to be able to divorce and easily sell their homes but are now staying together until the housing market turns around. We are also seeing couples divorce and stay in the same home together. Some say the new living arrangements are bringing their families closer together. They credit weekly meetings and budget discussions. They are learning about what’s important and what’s valuable. Things like family and spending time together are taking the places of a owning a mansion or a depending on materialistic lifestyle. Yet, many challenges arise with lifestyle differences, generational differences, emotional traumas, money squabbles and other issues. Losing your independence, privacy, and even pieces of your previous identity can be humbling. :::::

Corrinne Loucks Assad is a broker, realtor, investor, GRI, ABR with Blue Ridge Investment Properties, 166 Boone Heights Drive Boone, NC 28607.

mother’s day | nurture

bloom where you’re planted

a mother’s day gift to remember

I get excited when I see a clearance rack in a store. Many times I’ve come home with something I’ll never wear simply because the item was cheap. Years ago, I bought a navy blue and white summer jumpsuit and didn’t like it after I brought it home and tried it on. It wasn’t, “me,” but that jumpsuit was well worth the $5 I paid for it. I hung it in the closet and showed it to my daughter, Karen, during her next visit. “If you like it, you can have it,” I told her.

She said it was cute and took it home with her when she returned to Florida. She brought it back on her next visit. “You can’t give it back,” I protested. “You said that it’s cute.” “I’ve changed my mind,” she answered, as she hung it in my closet. “Be that way,” I said. “See if I ever give you anything again.” Before she left to go back to Florida, I hid the jumpsuit in her luggage. When she unpacked and discovered it,

she called right away and asked, “What in the world do you want me to do with this jumpsuit?” I told her to do whatever she wanted to do with it because it was hers, not mine. “Ok, I’ll keep it because I don’t want you to think I’m unappreciative.” She had such a serious tone in her voice. For Mother’s Day, it came back to me, nicely wrapped with a note that said the more she looked at “that thing,” the more she liked it, but felt she should share it with me.

nurture | mother’s day She called on Mother’s Day and wanted to know what I did when I opened the box. I told her I laughed and then cried because I missed her so much. “I did the same thing when I wrapped it,” she said. “At first, I laughed because I could imagine the expression on your face when you opened the box. Before I realized it, my tears flowed too. Take good care of it, Mom.” I did take good care of it because I took it with me when her dad and I visited her family the next year. Before we left to come back to North Carolina, I hid it under a housecoat that hung in the back of her closet. She discovered it months later while collecting items for a rummage sale but didn’t mention it to me. She did tell me about the sale but didn’t bother to mention, “that thing.” Of course, she tucked it in with my next birthday gift. On my next visit to her house, she discovered it under her pillow with a note that read, “Karen, sleep on it, honey.” Months later, it came back to me in the mail. This time she had cut it off short and included a sweatband and assorted exercise garb with a note that suggested I shape up and enjoy life to the fullest. I kept “that thing” for over a year and forgot about it until I was wrapping Christmas gifts for Karen and her boys. She called before Christmas and I told her I had mailed them a box. “Do I have a special gift coming this year? “ she asked. “What do you mean?” I asked, pretending I had forgotten I about the jumpsuit. “Oh, nothing,” she said, changing the subject. I talked to our grandsons and told them I had wrapped “that thing” in a box with a card that read, “To Mom from Brad and Bryan. Christmas 1991.” They knew about our fun and gave their mom the gift to open first on Christmas morning. “You got me good, Mom. I thought



you had forgotten “ she said when she called.

I’d take it off the hanger and hold it close. My spirits were always lifted.”

Karen moved back to North Carolina just before Hurricane Andrew roared into Florida. Her dad went to help her move and the approaching storm made it impossible for them to pack everything she wanted to bring with her. They had to leave ahead of schedule. I wanted to ask if she thought to bring the jumpsuit with her but didn’t because I was just thankful her dad and she and the boys had gotten out safely.

I could believe it. I had done the same thing. As of this day, “that thing” still has tiny hot pink bows, umpteen stars and tiny bears scattered over it. All were added through the years and nothing was ever removed.

But, later, I got the jumpsuit tucked in with a Mother’s Day gift. I was so happy and told her that I was afraid she had left it in Florida. “Mom, you know, it was one of the first things I packed because ‘that thing’ is a family treasure. Never could I have left it behind,” she said. “You wouldn’t believe how it made me feel when I was homesick. Sometimes,

Karen has now had it in her sole possession for four years or more but, I know, when I least expect it, I’ll be the proud owner again. Who would have thought that such a simple item would have played such a big role in the lives of this mother and her daughter? It helped keep us close when we were 900 miles apart. :::::

Sherry Boone is a local writer and storyteller. Her “Letters from Myrtle” from her book, “A Bloomin’ Bouquet,” have been aired on local radio and NPR. The Ashe County Mountains Times published her “Letters” for several years.

pets | nurture

“degu” the diligent degu

Cutline: Degu, the degu, is a determined little fellow that stays one step ahead of its owners. Photos submitted.

Photo submitted

Degu, simply named for the animal it is – a rodent species from Chile – is more commonly known as a bush-tailed rat.

Shi Jarrell laughs when she talks about the noise level, and the fact that Degu seems to know when his noise becomes annoying.

Degu, the degu, came to the home of Shi, Jason and Gil Jarrell as a roommate’s “impulse buy” and quickly become part of the family.

“He adds blocks to his wheel when he works out,” Shi says. When the sounds become too loud, Shi removes the blocks from the wheel. When she opens the lid to the cage, Degu runs to the other end of the cage. Shi removes the blocks from the wheel but not from the cage. “He needs the stimulus of items to play with,” ‘she says, so she just moves them to a corner underneath the cage bedding.

When the roommate relocated, taking with him a pet snake, Degu stayed behind. Degu is athletic, “intelligent” and determined. Degu’s athleticism is both reflected in his nightly 4 a.m. workout routine on the wheel and in his ability to rebuild and redesign structures within his habitat. The Jarrell family was taken by surprise when Degu managed to create a makeshift implement that enabled the wheel to keep turning when its stand broke. One day, the family noticed that the wheel had tipped over in the cage. Within 24 hours, Degu regrouped objects within his aquarium-like cage to hold the wheel up so that he could continue running in his routine circular motion. His determination is apparent both through those actions and in his “seemingly conscious” decision to make noise.

As soon as Shi walks away, Degu looks over at her and immediately unearths the blocks and replaces them to their former location. Degu chews continuously – and transformed a plaster skull that had been put into his habitat – into a Degu cave. While he manipulates his habitat, stacks and makes noises with blocks, redesigns his living quarters and chisels away his cave to better suit him, the family knows he needs a new toy or “manipulative challenge.” if he begins chewing through the netting at the top of his cage. The Jarrells hope to one day find another degu companion for their pet.

Degu had shared his cage in the pet store with another male degu, but apparently did not get along well with him, despite the animal’s supposed social nature. Maybe he just needs female companionship, the family thinks. Degus are unique, sharing similarities with rabbits and guinea pigs, but requiring a different diet. Sugars found in rabbit and guinea pig pellets can lead to diabetes in degus, for which they are prone. The degu diet best includes a variety of degu pellets, birdseed, sunflower seeds and blueberries. However, if not monitored, they indulge in blueberries, which can make them ill. Degus can become very tame if handled from an early age; they are playful and curious, by nature. Without social interaction and opportunity for exercise, they can be aggressive and neurotic. Degus are diurnal (active during the day). In the wild they live in communities – much like prairie dogs – and dig an elaborate system of burrows in which to live. :::::

Genevieve Austin Animal Advocate



Photos by Marilyn Ball

inspire | pet adoption

Margaret Brannon back home on the farm with Casey, Luke and Patches.

it’s a dog’s life . . . trading nyc stardom for a mountain farm It all started

a year and a half ago when my son’s beloved border collie, Onyx, had to be put to sleep unexpectedly while Alex was away in college. With horses, cats and other responsibilities, I decided against getting another dog. The first time I drove down my driveway, however, and Onyx wasn’t running out to greet



me, I decided that my little farm did indeed need another dog. After discovering three border collie mix puppies were waiting for adoption at the Pike County Dog Pound in Ohio, I left Panama City, Fla., with the stray kitten, Sunshine, I’d just adopted, and drove to Ohio. I brought Casey home Thanksgiving Eve – just in time to let my son find her

– right after telling him the sad news about Onyx. To see my son’s tears turn to smiles and laughter made the long trip worth it. Fast forward a year and a half to the end of March, 2011. Casey settled into the farm life with her best friend, Maddie, my downstairs tenant’s Labradoodle. They played chase, tug-of-war and keep-away. The affection between

pet adoption | inspire the two was obvious – as was Casey’s sadness when Maddie went home to Virginia. Casey tried to replace her playmate with the cats and horses, but to no avail. I certainly didn’t need – or want – a second dog, but knew Casey would be terribly lonesome when Maddie leaves this spring when her owner goes to vet school. I thought I might find a new tenant with a dog that liked to play, but couldn’t count on that. I don’t watch much television, but had the “Today Show” on Friday morning, March 20. Jill Rappaport’s “Bow to Wow” segment came on, featuring dogs from the New York City pound. The dogs are groomed and brought on the show in hopes of their being adopted. One of those dogs was a young, male, tri-colored, Australian Shepherd mix named Luke. He would make a good companion for Casey, I thought, but I didn’t have time to check it out. Even though I figured it was unlikely – with millions of “Today Show” viewers – on Monday morning, I decided to see if he was still available. After extremely frustrating attempts to reach NYC Animal Care and Control, which does not post contact information on its website, I was to finally successful. Much to my surprise, Luke was still there. I asked if they could hold him for four days while I made a trip to

Florida for my elderly father. I was told by Darlene, ‘Oh no, we never hold a animal for anyone. It’s first come, first serve.’ With the price of gas, I was not going to start a 650 mile, 12-hour trip to New York City in hopes he’d still be available. I faxed them an application anyway and waited. And waited. And waited. I didn’t get a call back on Monday and only reached their automated answering/information system when I called. Meanwhile, I kept myself busy. I arranged for someone to take my dad to the doctor in case the New York City trip became a reality, then called three girl friends to see if one of them would ride with me. First thing Tuesday, I tried again to reach NYCACC. No luck. I faxed another letter, saying I wanted to give Luke a ‘forever’ home. I remembered having email address, so I sent another message. A volunteer was kind enough to return my call mid-morning, but all his supervisor could find out was there had been nearly 50 calls for Luke over the weekend. With that news, I concluded my chances of adopting Luke were slim, so was mentally planning on leaving for Florida that afternoon. I’d done all I could to adopt Luke. It just wasn’t meant to be.



inspire | pet adoption However, at 1:23 p.m., my phone rang. Jen Reese was calling from NYCACC. I was thrilled, but expected her to say Luke had already been adopted. I could hardy believe it when she told me that even though she hadn’t seen my application, she was going to put a “courtesy hold” on Luke. She knew from my e-mail and fax I would give him the best home. I was ecstatic. My friend, Marilyn and I left Banner Elk at 6:30, p.m. enroute to New York City with crate, food, water, collar, leash and treats. I’d only been to NYC as part of a tour group many years ago, but had never driven there. Bad weather was expected Wednesday evening, and we wanted to get in and out of there before it hit. After four hours of sleep in a motel, we were on the road again by 5:15 a.m. When I went to Ohio to get Casey, Sunshine and I slept in the car at a rest stop. My plan was to arrive around 10 a.m, though had been told there would be no parking until after 3 p.m.

I knew it was possible that we would have to keep circling the block or double-park and stay in the car. Driving right through downtown Manhattan was definitely a challenge, even though I am a seasoned Atlanta driver. As is my habit to look for the silver lining of a dark cloud, I told Marilyn maybe the later arrival was God’s way of providing us a parking space since someone might leave for lunch. That’s exactly what happened as we spotted a parking space half a block from the Manhattan branch of the NYCACC. It was the only empty space we’d seen during our entire hour-plus drive through Manhattan. We were greeted by Jen Reese who brought the paperwork to the counter as soon as we arrived and took us to meet Luke, as handsome as they come, and still wearing the bandana he’d worn on the Today Show. He went wild with excitement as Jen was trying to unlock his cage. I had planned to make a real hit with

him by offering him a treat I’d put in my pocket. It must have been stale because he just dropped it on the floor. So much for first impressions. Luke went back into his cage as we went back to the lobby to complete the adoption. After about an hour, my handsome “fella” finally emerged. We made it home through rain and snow around 3:30 a.m. I had decided not to introduce Luke to Casey until the morning so I could take them to the fenced dog park where they could run without Luke being encumbered by a leash. Before I could get them to the dog park, Casey and Luke were racing through the house like long lost buddies – just what I’d hoped for; they chased at the park until they were both panting. Meanwhile, the cats have a reprieve from Casey trying to play with them, but now they have to run from Luke.

:::::: Margaret Brannon

Luke, Margaret and Casey settle into a comfortable life together.



equestrian club | inspire

Photo by Jeff Eason

Lees-McRae College Equestrian Club members Caitlin Bentley, Veronica Brinkman, Emily Hopper, Amanda Simmons, Rebekah Brown, Lauren Kittleson, Samantha Miller, Katherine Santiago, Whitney Brandon, Ann Marie Hall and Beth Marlowe with Yonahlosse Saddle Club instructors Lauren Beck and Alexa Kapp at Sunday’s introductory party at the saddle club.

college courses and riding horses: lmc students start new equestrian club Extracurricular activities


a big part of college life. So when Ann Marie Hall couldn’t find the team or club that suited her interests most at Lees-McRae College, she decided to start a new one. “I started thinking about an equestrian club last September,” Hall said. “I presented my idea to the school’s president and dean and to (LMC vice president of academic affairs) Kacy Crabtree, and they were all very supportive. “I didn’t have any idea of how many other students would be interested, so I put up flyers on campus to tell people about a possible equestrian club and an initial meeting. Six people showed up at the first meeting.” From that beginning last fall, the equestrian club has grown to nearly 20 members. More than a dozen members of Lees-McRae Equestrian Club met last

Sunday at the Yonahlossee Saddle Club to meet with the public and mingle with their new sponsors, Yonahlossee Saddle Club owners Diana and Richard Militana. Members of the LMC Equestrian Club have the opportunity to ride the Militanas’ horses at the Yonahlossee Saddle Club in exchange for keeping up with the stalls and grooming the horses. They have also had the opportunity to bond with the Militanas’ stable of award-winning horses with names like “Winsome Rhapsody,” “Impossibly Classy” and “Copper.” “It’s fun, but it’s also an educational experience,” Hall said. “And we’ve developed a program that will benefit all levels of riders. We’ve got beginning riders in the club who never rode a horse before and experienced riders, as well.” The club is taking lessons from Yonahlossee Saddle Club instructors

Alexa Kapp and Lauren Beck on both English and Western riding styles. The Yonahlossee Saddle Club, located off of Poplar Grove Road in Boone, features both indoor and outdoor riding areas. Hall stated that even though the LMC Equestrian Club is in its beginning stages, it has big plans for the future. “Eventually, we would like to be a sanctioned collegiate equestrian team and compete with other colleges,” she said. Hall added that there is even some interest from a few guys at Lees-McRae College and that she hopes others on campus will join the new club. “Being able to start this club and enjoy the horses here at the saddle club has been both a blast and a blessing,” Hall said. ::::: Jeff Eason, Co-Editor, Mountain Times



inspire | lisa totherow

pajamas beyond bedtime

Photos submitted

Lisa Dishman Totherow and daughter, Addison, use a bedtime ritual to make a difference.

Lisa Dishman Totherow

is a young wife and mother with a passion for children. While watching Oprah one night, her eyes were opened to the Pajama Program, through which new pajamas and storybooks are collected and given to less fortunate children. Lisa decided a similar, but faith-based project in the High Country, would be a great things for her and her daughter, Addison, to do together.



“I want Addison to always be aware of her blessings and remember that God expects us to share our love for Him with others,” Lisa says.

Children and even some adults wear their pajamas and bring a pair of new pajamas with a storybook to be distributed to area children.

After many hours of researching and fulfilling requirements, Lisa’s project became official.

Last year, 105 gifts were given to the Hunger Coalition for distribution. More recently, 160 gifts were given to the Children’s Council of Watauga County for less fortunate youngsters.

For the past two years, she has coordinated a pajama party in the fellowship building of Mabel United Methodist Church, where she is a member.

Lisa was among eight individuals recently honored by Vanity Fair, a company that recognizes volunteerism

lisa totherow | inspire At their home every night, Lisa and Addison follow a bedtime routine, which Addison refers to as, “The Order.”

Lisa was last summer’s director of Vacation Bible School at her church is already making preparations for this year’s event.

She has her bath, puts on her pajamas, brushes her teeth, takes her vitamins, and chooses a stuffed animal to take to bed. Then, her mom or dad reads a story or two, Addison is tucked into bed, and after prayers she is ready for a good night’s sleep.

Lisa also coordinated a birthday party for Jesus at church last December, to which all the community children were invited.

It’s the perfect ritual for which they wish every little girl could follow. The Pajama Project is just one of Lisa’s many interests – in things that make a difference. among their employees. Donations of $1,000 each were given to the charity of the individual’s choice. Lisa chose The Children’s Council as recipient of her gift.

She has been involved for several years in fundraising for Relay For Life, in memory of her sister, Katina Dishman, who died during childhood from leukemia, and for whom she named her daughter, Katina Addison.

She is also an excellent photographer and bakes/decorates delicious and beautiful cakes. Lisa has been blessed with many gifts and knows the best way to use them is to keep giving to others. :::::

Sherry Boone is a local writer and storyteller. Her “Letters from Myrtle” from her book, “A Bloomin’ Bouquet,” have aired on local radio and NPR. The Ashe County Mountains Times published her “Letters” for several years.

inspire | belly dancers

beautiful contradictions “For all time,

women have been an embodiment of contradictions. We are elements of fire and water, earth and sky,” says Teresa Dickerson, director of Three Graces Entertainment. “We are strength and softness, masculine and feminine. We are peacemakers, mothers, and the givers of life. And yet we’ll pick up a metaphorical sword and fight when the occasion calls for it.” “It is through dance that the women of Three Graces Entertainment embody the above contradictions,” Teresa says. Most dancers who join the troupe began by taking one of Teresa’s belly dance classes for reasons ranging from desiring the exercise to learning how to dance like those on FitTV’s ‘Shimmy,’ or because a friend or significant other persuaded her to begin, she says, “The women soon discover more reasons to continue.” Oftentimes, Teresa, who is also an instructor teacher as well as a performer, will hear from her students that the classes are much more than what they expected. “The classes teach students to appreciate who they are and help them embrace the many facets of being divinely female.” she says. “Muscle strengthening and toning are just additional benefits. And belly dancing is just one aspect of what we do,” she says. The dance company offers its students the opportunity to choose from multiple forms of self-expression. “For the soft, sensuous side, veil dancing allows the dancer to cocoon herself in luxurious silk or translucent chiffon, emerging and disappearing in



a cloud of color as she swirls and turns to enchanting music,” Teresa says. “She oftentimes adds elements of ballet, such as arabesques, chaine turns, and more. Veil dancing, sometimes performed as a solo, more often as a dance troupe, captivates audiences of all ages.” For those who identify more with the warrior princess, Three Graces offers tribal fusion belly dance. “Taught by Kharma at workshops in the Boone area, tribal fusion costumes usually consists of darker, more somber colors, and the dancers oftentimes wear ornaments of metal,” Teresa says. “The music may be a fusion of Arabic, electronica and other styles. The dancers do smile occasionally, but one must look carefully to catch it.” Added just in the past few years, sword dancing offers the Three Graces dancers an opportunity to illustrate a woman’s strength and power as well as poise and balance. The many hours of sword practice builds arm and back strength, in particular. Flexibility increases as the dancer moves into deep back bends. One of the theatrics, balancing the sword on the dancer’s head, requires concentration and the art of centering oneself physically and mentally. Sword dances have been performed throughout the history of the world – in Greece, the Middle East, India, China, Korea, Japan, Scotland and Europe. Many of these are mock battle dances performed by males. However, in North Africa, women dancing with swords is an ancient skill and part of many rituals. Aspects of the masculine and feminine, the balance of Ying and Yang, merge in

this mesmerizing show of talent. As an element of contradiction, fire is monumental. It is an element of destruction, yet it banishes the darkness. The Three Graces fire dancers embrace this dichotomy by bringing to their audiences a fire show that leaves those who see it in awe. After many classes of fire safety and choreography, the performers are ready. With somber concentration, they torch their fire fans, fire staffs and hoops and slowly take their formations to present their dance-filled fire theatrics. Fire performance demands complete attention, a total focus that allows no outside thought, a clear mind. Out of the darkness, the flames of fire cleanse and purifies. Regardless of what the day has put upon them, these dancers come to class, many driving for miles after a long day of seemingly endless responsibilities, ready to leave behind frustrations and demands of daily living, to enter into their realm of dance. It is there that they tap into rich contradictions that define the essence of their being. For more information about Three Graces Entertainment’s dance classes or performance offerings, contact Teresa Dickerson at (336) 830-3479 or by email at or visit www.


Photo by Bonnie Lee Stanley

Photos submitted

inspire | melanie hollar

Melanie Hollar, seated right, with her colleagues, Jennifer Stewart, representing Duke University Medical Center, and Lori Flores, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, meet with Rep. Virginia Foxx, standing, while in Washington, D.C.

melanie hollar lobbies for nurses on capitol hill “Patient care and outcomes depend greatly upon legislation,” says local nurse, Melanie Hollar, who was chosen to participate in the Nurses In Washington Internship March 13-15 on Capitol Hill.

Melanie was recommended for the 2011 conference by Rep. Virginia Foxx and past co-chair of Watauga County Relay for Life, Sharon Trivette. She was selected from a large pool of contenders from across the country.

“Nurses can – and need to – get involved locally and nationally. We need to let our voices be heard about those things for which we are passionate,” she says.

Melanie returned to Boone with a renewed excitement for advocacy of her profession and heightened respect for her local representatives.



Her most recent trip to Washington for a cause was not her first. “I had the opportunity to go to Capitol Hill and participate in lobbying for cancer acts in September 2002 with a local group representing the American Cancer Society,” she says. As a strong patient advocate for her late husband, Greg, during his battle with terminal colon cancer, Melanie walked

melanie hollar | inspire around the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol, without hesitation –uniquely attired to represent a polyp. “Cancer patients need someone to speak on their behalf,” she says.

legislation,” Melanie says. “Nurses know the importance of having a voice in congress and to keep our profession in the forefront of those making decisions about our profession.”

“Politics and advocacy have been a passion of mine for many years,” Hollar says. “I began working at the polls on Election Day and learned, at an early age, that voting was a privilege.”

“Melanie has always used her circumstances to help educate others,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx, in her nomination of Melanie for the internship. “During her husband’s ordeal with cancer, she wrote weekly columns for the Watauga Democrat to help people learn about the struggle and ways to cope with it. She is experienced at public speaking and writing and formed an extensive network as a result of her activities. She turned a very negative situation into one that benefited many others as she shared and comforted others. I know she will use the opportunity to hone her skills and knowledge and become an asset not only to our area but to the state and nation.”

“It only takes one person to make a difference. Through these experiences, I learned the importance of being a patient advocate first-hand,” she says. Melanie is currently a professional patient supporter as a full-time oncology nurse at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem. “The purpose of the internship was to bring together nurses from across the United States from all specialty areas in nursing to learn how to lobby for nursing

Trivette’s recommendation agreed. “During her time as a volunteer with Relay For Life, Melanie has been an outspoken and active advocate for the American Cancer Society,” Sharon Trivette wrote. “She has participated in numerous advocacy activities such as writing letters and sending emails to elected officials at both the state and national level on cancer related issues. Having lost her spouse to cancer has made Melanie a tireless and tenacious advocate for greater funding for cancer research and patient services.” During the internship, Melanie and her constituents met with professional lobbyists, heard from staff in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and became a voice on Capitol Hill. “It was a pleasure for me and three of my colleagues – after two days of preparation – to meet with Congresswoman Virginia Foxx and N.C.

inspire | melanie hollar

Melanie Hollar, right, with N.C. Senator Kay Hagan during her trip to Capitol Hill.

senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr,” she says. “Walking up the steps of Capitol Hill gave me chill bumps. I was so excited to be there, knowing I am only one person but I can speak up for others who do not have the same opportunity,” she says. “A little intimidating,” is how Melanie felt, at first, by going into the government offices and asking for support in funding of programs recommended by President Obama in the budget – “ especially during such hard economic times when everyone wants to cut spending and cut programs,” she says. “If I came away from this experience with one thing, it was that programs will be cut and which programs are cut depends upon who is passionate about their programs. I’m sure it must be easier to cut those programs for which no one has spoken out too loudly about,” she says. “Every nurse feels the impact of the country’s nursing shortages,” and as professionals, we recognize that patient care is affected by it,” Melanie says. “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, currently, there is a shortage of 2.5 million registered nurses in the United States. A report issued by the Bureau of Health Professions at



the Health Resources and Services Administration entitled, Projected Supply, Demand, and Shortages of Registered Nurses: 2000-2010, predicts that the percentage of unfilled nursing positions will grow to at least 30 percent by 2020,” she says. “As an oncology nurse, I specifically asked Congresswoman Foxx to cosponsor the Improving Cancer Treatment Education Act of 2011,” Melanie says. “This important bipartisan legislation provides Medicare reimbursement for cancer patient treatment and education provided by oncology nurses. Many people with cancer experience side effects, symptoms, and late side effects associated with their disease and treatment – all of which can have a serious and adverse impact on their health, well being, and quality of life. I know all of this to be true, first hand. That is just one of many reasons why I feel it’s important to be a voice for others on Capitol Hill.” It was an experience to remember, Melanie says. “The meetings were enjoyable and I just had to keep in mind that our representatives are people just like myself who have families, they know someone who is a nurse, and they know at least one person who has cancer.”

Melanie encourages all nurses to get involved, “at least locally,” regarding important issues facing the nursing profession. “I have learned that just because I’m doing good work doesn’t mean it will be supported,” Melanie says. “Congress needs to hear from us. Personal letters with personal experiences and reasons are most effective in getting support. I didn’t go just because I’ve read about these issues. I went to speak out from a personal standpoint as well as that of a professional.’ Melanie was accompanied to Washington by her husband Labaron, and together, they enjoyed touring the city. “We were again humbled as we were reminded of the sacrifices that have been made for our freedom – the very right that I was able to exercise during this trip,” Melanie says. Upon returning from the NIWI, Melanie learned that she has been accepted into Graduate School at UNC-Greensboro to pursue her master’s degree in nursing education. :::::

Sherrie Norris Editor, All About Women

Ensuring An Adequate Supply of Nurses “In visiting with our representatives, my nursing colleagues and I asked members of Congress to take a stand to ensure that the nation has an adequate supply of nurses delivering quality care to the patient of today and tomorrow,” Melanie says. “We asked them to do the following, in conjunction with President Barack Obama’s budget recommendations:” Support $313 million in 2012 for the Nursing Workforce and Development programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration, which support the recruitment, education, and retention of an estimated 36,750 nurses. Support $162 million in 2012 appropriations funding for the national Institute of Nursing Research, which funds and conducts clinical and basic research and research training. Show support for nurses by placing a statement in the Congressional Record about the importance of the nursing profession to the health care delivery system. Nurses serve as the backbone of the nation’s health care system — treating and educating patients and innovating, researching, and informing efforts to improve health care quality in their own practice settings and across the United States.



jan karon

inspire | jan karon

jan karon | inspire

returns to blowing rock

“If Jan Karon had never

put pen to paper about Mitford she would have still been a jewel in Blowing Rock’s crown,” says Blowing Rock Mayor J.B. Lawrence, whose words embody the town’s sentiments about the best-selling author who once called the quaint village her home. Jan will be centerstage in Blowing Rock once again in the upcoming “’Return to Mitford” event that she is supporting to help raise funds and awareness for the recently closed Hayes Performing Arts Center. “She is truly a gentle, southern lady who is loved by everyone and is a friend and neighbor to us all,” Lawrence says. ‘Even with her moving to Virginia she is still very much a part of who we are.”

Photo by Candace Freeland |

While the Mitford Series is based upon Jan’s life experiences in general, and not those specific to Blowing Rock, “We are all thankful that Jan chose Blowing Rock to channel her Mitford world into,” Lawrence says. “The positive economic impact alone is a Godsend to our town. There is nothing negative about Mitford. Each and every character in her books is loved by so many. That is Blowing Rock, which is a beautiful, desirable place to live that includes many beloved real people who live, work and play here.” The Mitford Days celebration held in September 2007 was an incredible experience to the town, townspeople and visitors alike, Lawrence says: “Everytime Jan comes home, it is a celebration, whether you are having a parade downtown or just sitting around the dinner table having one of Betty Pitts’ home cooked meals. Jan’s the real deal.” In an interview with All About Women, Jan spoke of her return to Blowing Rock for the upcoming event and of her popular Mitford Series.





jan karon

inspire | jan karon

jan karon | inspire

returns to blowing rock

“If Jan Karon had never

put pen to paper about Mitford she would have still been a jewel in Blowing Rock’s crown,” says Blowing Rock Mayor J.B. Lawrence, whose words embody the town’s sentiments about the best-selling author who once called the quaint village her home. Jan will be centerstage in Blowing Rock once again in the upcoming “’Return to Mitford” event that she is supporting to help raise funds and awareness for the recently closed Hayes Performing Arts Center. “She is truly a gentle, southern lady who is loved by everyone and is a friend and neighbor to us all,” Lawrence says. ‘Even with her moving to Virginia she is still very much a part of who we are.”

Photo by Candace Freeland |

While the Mitford Series is based upon Jan’s life experiences in general, and not those specific to Blowing Rock, “We are all thankful that Jan chose Blowing Rock to channel her Mitford world into,” Lawrence says. “The positive economic impact alone is a Godsend to our town. There is nothing negative about Mitford. Each and every character in her books is loved by so many. That is Blowing Rock, which is a beautiful, desirable place to live that includes many beloved real people who live, work and play here.” The Mitford Days celebration held in September 2007 was an incredible experience to the town, townspeople and visitors alike, Lawrence says: “Everytime Jan comes home, it is a celebration, whether you are having a parade downtown or just sitting around the dinner table having one of Betty Pitts’ home cooked meals. Jan’s the real deal.” In an interview with All About Women, Jan spoke of her return to Blowing Rock for the upcoming event and of her popular Mitford Series.





inspire | jan karon “Mitford Series is based upon on my life experiences, which include those in Blowing Rock, as well as in Lenoir, where I lived until the age of 12. The series is drawn from experiences and types of character from all the people I’ve met through the years,” she says. “I love Blowing Rock and I made many friends there. I enjoyed making friends at every level and was just as comfortable chatting at the post office as I was visiting the shops on main street.” It was during her 15 years as a Blowing Rock resident that her popularity grew, as did her need for privacy. “It was a life-changing experience for me,” she says. ‘“I love my fans, but they would not leave me alone. I felt that I was always on display. I need to be able to go out in my yard and look like a witch on a broom if I want to.” When speaking of her relocation to her farm in Virginia, “I did not leave Blowing Rock unhappy,” she says. “Blowing Rock feels like another home to me and I am pleased that a number of people have moved there because of my books. I do think the Mitford Series has helped the economy and that thrills me. I’m very pleased that Blowing Rock can attract people looking for Mitford,” she says. Regarding the closure of the Hayes Performing Arts Center last year, Jan says, “I was surprised. For many years Blowing Rock has had a bright, large and enduring tradition of summer theatre, but it can’t keep an arts center open on summer fare. It needs yearround support. I feel completely certain that the Hayes Center will be back and better than ever,” she says. Her “Return to Mitford” can do nothing but help make that a reality. Born Janice Meredith Wilson in 1937, Jan was raised on a farm in Lenoir. “From age 10, I knew that I was going to be a writer,” she says. “I felt that God spoke to my heart and told me what my future would be.”



I like to give my readers a few genuine laughs and to show a reader the intimate side of a character. As a youngster, she was inspired by the likes of Uncle Remus. “He was a prized figure who loved unconditionally and showed love unabashedly. It’s completely politically incorrect,” she says. “That what my grandmother taught me from the Bible was revealed in fiction was striking to me.” She read Steinbeck as a 10-year-old and enjoyed the works of Guy de Maupassant and Lloyd C. Douglas. “I also loved reading ‘Comptom’s Encyclopedia – always searching for words – and listened to the Boston Symphony Orchestra every Sunday of my life,” she says. Yet, Jan’s career began in advertising. “It was a very good preparation for fiction,” she says. “It taught me to get to the point; to leave some white space for the reader and that I didn’t need to fill in all the blanks. The reader needs to be able to do that and not be fed with a spoon like a baby.” As author of 22 books in 16 years – all bestsellers with “roughly 40 million copies” of her novels/audiobooks sold worldwide – Jan Karon knows the formula for success. Jan left advertising and moved to the mountains at age 48, and neared the completion of her first novel at 50. “My first book was published in 1994 but it took me until ‘96 to get my books with Penguin,” she says. She had signed earlier with a “smaller publishing house that could not get my books out there,” she says.

“At Home in Mitford,” was Jan’s first novel and earned three consecutive nominations (1996, 1997, 1998) for an American Booksellers Book of the Year Award, which honors titles that bookstore owners most enjoy recommending to customers; it is the only book ever nominated for three consecutive years. In addition to this prestigious award, Jan won both the Christy and Gold Medallion awards for outstanding contemporary fiction in 2000 for her fourth Mitford novel, “A New Song.” Jan has also won Gold Medallion awards for “A Common Life,” “In This Mountain,” and “Shepherd’s Abiding.” “Out to Canaan” was the first Mitford novel to hit the New York Times bestseller list. Subsequent novels have debuted on the New York Times list, often landing in the No. 1 spot. “I do feel that drawing characters is my main calling,” she says. “Not that my books are without plot, but they are character driven. I want my readers to be invested,” she says. One of the most important things Jan wants for her readers is for them to walk away with something when they close a book. “I want them to have some sort of consolation or uplift of the spirit. I like to give my readers a few genuine laugh and to show a reader the intimate side of a character,” she says. In 11 of her novels she has tried to help readers “step into that character and to

jan karon | inspire see things in his world view,” she says. She compares it to retreating. “It’s like being on the stage where the writer and the actor can help their audience retreat into a place. I want that to happen with my books. “That way, they can take something away,” she says. When asked how she keeps readers wanting more of Mitford and her other works, Jan refers to Agatha Christie who wrote 40 novels in her Thriller Series. “Her readership absolutely craved more. Even when she said, ‘Leave me alone,’ she wrote 20 more. This is a sticky issue for me,” Jan says. “I don’t want my work to be driven by the reader, or by sales,” she says. “I want my work to be driven by God and his leading – and to feel excited about it. I frankly tire of people shaking their finger in my face telling me to get busy writing. It’s not the business of the writer. I’m not doing that.” Where is she going from here? “I don’t really know,” she says. “As it turns out, I may write another Mitford novel – but it will not be driven by beleaguered readers. I’m taking some time off. I need and want a break,” she says. Describing herself as, “ a very curious woman, very eager to learn,” Jan says she “may be open to another career.” “I’m open to God’s leading; continuing to explore the gifts that I’ve been given. I don’t think that’s immodest of me. God doesn’t put us down here and send us out with no coat on our back. I’m very curious about God’s gift. I want to explore what he’s giving me,” she says. And, we’ve learned that writing is just one of her many gifts. Art was her first love. “I love to draw and would love for find more time to do it,” she says. Jan has found peace on her historical 1816 farm, a “serendipitous discovery,” she says. “My home was built by an Irish physician from plantation-made

brick. I have restored it meticulously under the watchfulness of Richmond Commonwealth Department of Historic Preservation.” While she admits that it does not “fulfill” her every need, “I am a pilgrim. I’m on my way home,” she says, referring to her life’s journey as a Christian. A single mother of one daughter, “a very gifted photographer who lives in Hawaii,” Jan resides near her mother in Charlottesville, Va., “who is still very beautiful at 90,” she says. Jan has one sister and two brothers, all of who are “talented and gifted,” she says. “My siblings are wonderful with people – very outgoing and loving. We are a very close, sincere and congenial family that loves to laugh.” When asked what she wants to leave with the people when she returns to Blowing Rock in June, her reply is simple. “I want to leave people feeling good,” she says. “That’s what I want my books to do. That’s all I ask. My hope and prayer is that people will be able to walk away with something from my visit. I don’t want them to just think they are going to hear some woman author speak. I want them to feel God’s love. If that can’t happen, why am I here?” We asked Jan to share a few words of encouragement with our readers, many of which are women in search of personal success. “Everywhere I go, all the time, I hear women say they don’t have opportunities. Well, I didn’t have opportunities, either, and I don’t like to hear anyone say that. A woman has to take and make her own opportunities,” she says. “You make them and/or you take then – and then don’t look back.”


Sherrie Norris Editor, All About Women

A Long List of Best-sellers Jan Karon has penned 22 books in 16 years, all best sellers with about 40 million in print around the world. Her Mitford Series, for which she is best known locally, includes, “At Home in Mitford,” “A Light in the Window,” “These High, Green Hills,” “Out to Canaan,” “A New Song,” “A Common Life: The Wedding Story,” “In This Mountain,” “Shepherd’s Abiding,” “Light from Heaven,” “The Mitford Cookbook & “Kitchen Reader,” and “The Mitford Bedside Companion.” “Out to Canaan” was her first novel to hit the New York Times bestseller list; all the subsequent novels have debuted on the list, reaching as high as the No.1 spot. She has also published two Christmas-themed books based on the Mitford series, “The Mitford Snowmen,” and “Esther’s Gift.” Other Mitford books include “Patches of Godlight,” “Father Tim’s Favorite Quotes,” a compilation of Father Tim’s favorite sayings, and “A Continual Feast: Words of Comfort and Celebration, Collected by Father Tim.” In addition, Karon has written children’s books, “Miss Fannie’s Hat,” “Jeremy: The Tale of an Honest Bunny,” “Violet Comes to Stay” and “Violet Goes to the Country,” as well as an inspirational book for all ages, “The Trellis and the Seed.” “Home to Holly Springs,” the first novel in the new Father Tim series, won the 2008 Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. Her latest book is, “In the Company of Others,” the second novel in the Father Tim series.



create | cuisine

mary’s kitchen home away from home Mary Presnell is a woman who knows her way around the kitchen, In fact, she spends more time in her “personal” kitchen than most women ever dream – or desire. Her ovens warm up in the wee hours of the morning, six days a week, and her tables are always weighted down with good country cooking.

It’s a good thing that Mary’s Kitchen is off-premise from her family home or she would never see a moment’s peace. In other words, she has the best of both worlds – a smaller kitchen in her house and a larger, public domain a few miles away that has served as a unique gathering place for nearly 22 years. Stepping into Mary’s Kitchen on George Wilson Road just outside of Boone is like taking a step or two back in time – it’s a piece of Americana that is quickly disappearing. Mary and her husband Emory Presnell and their only child, Brenda Castle, are responsible for the success of the community cornerstone. Brenda’s husband Brad Castle and daughter, Ashley Winebarger, lend a hand from time to time, when not occupied in their own neighboring businesses of Castle’s Auto Repair and New Generations Hair Salon. “They are good folks doing a good job for good people,” said local business owner, John Campbell, who has been meeting the same friends there in the same corner booth every Thursday morning for the last two years. “It’s predictable. Mary walks up to the table, and all we have to do is nod our heads and she knows what we want. We know them, they know us and

Mary Presnell is an icon among High Country women, known for her country cooking and compassionate heart.

there are no surprises,” he said. “It’s a country club for the average guy.” Weather and politics usually top the menu of daily discussions – “with a lot of bull thrown in for good measure,” we’ve been told. Many of the world’s problems have been solved around the table at Mary’s, whether at her current location of earlier when she owned the Mountaineer Restaurant. Local building contractor, Cliff Baldwin, sees Mary’s as “family.” “You don’t find places like this every day,” Baldwin said, pointing to a central table, “There’s usually a jar there to help raise money for someone dealing with an illness or just hard times. That’s the way it is here all the time.” Mary Presnell has spent the majority of her life in food service. “I started out waitressing years ago,” she said. “I worked at the Tar Heel Barbecue for 6 ½ years (current location of Red Onion Café), and the Town House Restaurant for six years and then went into business for myself. A woman said, ‘Let’s go up there and run that restaurant on Greasy Corner,’ and that’s what I did for 10 years and five months. Mary first moved her Mountaineer Restaurant to Perkinsville and then to the present location on the outskirts of town, where most of her regular customers followed and others soon discovered. It’s not unusual for the 68-year-old to arrive at work at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. every workday. Mary opens the doors,

cuisine | create “whenever someone comes up on the porch,” she says. “I’ve got some customers who go into work real early and sometimes, I’ll open up by 4:30. In this day and time, you’ve got to do what you can to make a livin’ and help others do the same. Times are hard for everybody.” From early breakfasts through late lunches, Mary and her family members are on site to greet and treat their customers – and always with a smile. Sunday is her day of rest, which includes an early-morning hour in front of the TV with coffee and preaching by Charles Stanley. Most other times, when she has time and weather allows, Mary can be found outside working in her yard or garden or helping others with theirs. “After working all day in the kitchen, a body needs to get out in the fresh air,” Mary says.

“Mama has always been a hard worker and enjoys helping others,” Brenda says. “She’s always raised big gardens and cans a lot every year.” The Presnell family has been the backbone of the business success, but Mary does not hesitate to mention such people as the late June Stamey and others, who have been helpful through the years. “I’ve had some real good outside help, but most of them are no longer living,” she says. Mary counts on her niece from “off the mountain,” for some good smoked barbecue, which is a menu favorite. While the list of food options remain pretty basic, with a little liver mush and fried boloney adding to the mix, it’s specialty items like her chocolate gravy, fruitcakes, coconut pies and peanut butter candy that often cause a ruckus. “Everybody loves Mama’s baked goods

and candy,” Brenda says. “And, she makes awful good chicken pie.” “Mary will feed you – whether you’re hungry, or not,” says Emory. “I just work here, but she’s the boss.” Brenda has spent the majority of her life in her mother’s shadow and is blessed to be able to spend quality time by her side every day. “I wouldn’t change a thing, even if I could,” Brenda says. The coffee is always hot and the service comes with a smile. Mary’s Kitchen is located at 486 George Wilson Road in Boone. For more information or take-outs, call (828) 2641920. :::::

See Mary’s Favorite Recipes next page. Sherrie Norris Editor, All About Women

create | cuisine When asked to share a few of her favorite recipes, Mary Presnell begins with basic instructions -

“a pinch” of this and “a pinch” of that. After a brief hesitation, she interpreted the directions into something we’ll all be happy to add to our files.

Photos by Sherrie Norris

Pumpkin Bread 3 cups sugar 3½ cups plain flour 2 tsp. baking soda 1½ tsp. cinnamon

Mary Presnell, left, her daughter Brenda Castle, and granddaughter, Ashley Winebarger, represent three generations of wonderful cooks.

1 tsp. nutmeg

Mary’s Best-Selling Coconut Cream Pie

Peanut Butter Pinwheels

1 cup oil

1 cup sugar

½ stick butter

4 eggs

3 Tbs. cornstarch

1 Tbs. vanilla

2/3 cup water

1 Tbs. coconut flavoring

1½ lb. powdered sugar

1 cup crushed pineapple

½ cup coconut

Nuts (optional)

3 cups milk (more if needed for consistency)

Milk (just enough to stiffen sugar mixture, but not enough to thin)

1 tsp. cloves 1 Tbs. vanilla

Mix dry ingredients together and add in the rest, mixing well, Bake at 325 degrees in three prepared regular size loaf pans or seven small loaf pans until done.



Dash of salt Cook until done and thick; pour into a prepared piecrust. Refrigerate until set.

Mix and roll it out into rectangle; spread with peanut butter; roll up and cut into pieces.

by the book | create

“first ten chapters” set in watauga county Truth will come to sight; murder cannot be hid long…William Shakespeare; “Merchant of Venice”

“First Ten Chapters” is Doris first mystery; however, she is not a novice at writing. She has written three historical novels, based on true events, but “through the eyes and imagination of the author,” she says. As well, she has compiled and published a book of short stories from various authors who once called the mountains home.

books and mysteries, it was natural to add mysteries to her writing, Doris says.

Although it is fictional, “First Ten Chapters,” by Doris Musick is a quick read that brings the reader along with the emotions of the characters in the book.

Doris is a native southwest Virginian and after living and working in Richmond, has returned with her husband, Larry, to a secluded part of Russell County, Va.

“The plot sort of evolved, much like any other story one would write. I knew I had to have several suspects, and characters the reader could identify with, and mourn their loss,” she says.

Fears, flirtations and foul play fill the 147 pages. Just when the reader believes the mystery is solved and the people of the fictional Mercerville can get back to normal – minus four people – questions arise, and the nail biting resumes. But as Shakespeare wrote, “Truth will come to sight; murder cannot be hid long.”

Recently, the couple has started their own publishing company, MtnValy Publishing. In addition to her four novels and the collection of short stories, for seven years she wrote for Country a magazine subsidiary of Readers Digest. The articles were true stories about people still living in the Appalachians doing things the old way and preserving things from the past.

Pick up a copy of “First Ten Chapters,” make a cup of hot cocoa and spend the next rainy night in Mercerville with Matti and her friends.

Are you tired of the same old repeats of your favorite cop show on TV? In the time you could waste watching three reruns, you could get involved in a delectable murder mystery set in our very own Watauga County.

While there is a hint of romance in “First Ten Chapters,” Doris doesn’t bog down her story with explicit sex. It is suspense that carries the story. “First Ten Chapters,” as a title may seem strange, but as the reader gets involved in the story and Matti Taylor’s introduction to Mercerville, the reason emerges. Will chapter eleven and more appear as other Mercerville mysteries?

Doris began writing historical novels after she retired, beginning with stories gleaned from the genealogy of her husband’s family. But after writing about history, she wanted some variety in her writing. Since her own personal reading enjoyment includes both historical

“Since I didn’t want to write about a real murder, the book had to be fiction. I have visited the Boone and Blowing Rock area so many times – it was my first and only choice for the story,” she says.

Other books by Doris Musick include “Up the Water Spout;” “Come Saturday;” “The Starched Apron.” Short story collection: “Zeniths and Zephyrs.” They can be ordered directly from MtnValy Publishing, Also, order from Barnes and Noble at http://; Amazon at http://www.; or ABEbooks at http:// ::::: June Windle Bare, poet and fiction writer. Contact her via e-mail at junewindlebare@hotmail. com; website:



create | poet’s corner

Karen Annie Powell, a photographer, poet and blogger shares the High Country as she sees it through the lens of her camera and the poetry of her heart. “Spring always makes me cultivate a thankful heart anew. I am thankful for the robust beauty that surrounds us here in the High Country and for the inspiration it provides for the writer, the artist and the poet,” Karen says. Karen’s poetry is often whimsical and full of imagery. She isn’t tied down to set forms of rhyme and meter, but there is always rhythm. Her photography is poetic even without words. Karen and her newly published writer husband, Keith Powell, live in the High Country, and are proud parents of two children. Nate is a student at ASU, and Natalie is a sophomore at Watauga High School. Karen has been writing since college days in the 1980s. She has



By June W. Bare

bachelor degrees in psychology and in occupational therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The majority of her professional experience was in health care. Karen enjoys writing poetry and taking photos to accompany her writing both as a form of expression and as a means to express her gratitude. Several of her poems have been published in an e-journal called “joyful!”

Karen feels she is, “at home in the High Country,” which is also the title of her blog at


June Windle Bare, poet and fiction writer, may be contacted via e-mail at; via website: http://www.behindthestacks.yolasite. com;

poet’s corner | create

appalachia By Karen Annie Powell Crack me open Mine me Refine me And distill me on down I am The big forest Across the humpback path Aching in the wind Full of creaks Loosely organized Stand of giant trees I am The frog swelling up Splatting through the water Tongue hidden Lumpy clumsy Roly poly Fatso I am the heron Neck wrenching Funny legged Weak gray Winged birdie Fly away Home I am the ginormous rock formations Hanging high Held by tree root Perching precariously Crashing rolling Boulder(s) Stone mountain

Photos by Karen Annie Powell

I am the rushing water Filling the gorge Appalachian mist Rising Tinkling rain I am song I am light I am a moonlit night Nature’s tresses Wooded bosom All creatures’ womb Appalachia I am.



Photos by Sue Spirit

transform | travel

ghost country struggles to live memoirs from mostar During those

January afternoons while on our cozy ship, the M.V. Athena, I snuggled into a soft loveseat in the lounge. I alternately wrote in my journal while tackling the 500-page tome, “To End a War,” by Richard Holbrooke, about the negotiations leading up to the Dayton Accords in 1995, when the leaders of Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia finally signed the treaty that ended the horrible Balkan war. It was hard to believe we were bobbing along in the Adriatic Sea, so near where the fighting had taken place from 1991 to 1995. Even harder to believe was that we actually got to go ashore and travel through Bosnia to Mostar, an ancient town whose beloved 16th century stone bridge had been blown up in 1993 by



the Bosnian Serbs, who were trying to bring the Bosnian Muslims to their knees. Today Bosnia-Herzegovina is divided into a Serbian area and a federation of Bosnian Muslims and Catholic Croats. On the way, we drove through a drab, sad land where we saw many bombedout houses crumbled like bitten cornrows. Every little inhabited cottage had a cabbage patch trying its best to produce for its family the main staple of the winter diet. They looked like pale green-and-brown tufted bedspreads, their small knots of hope mixed with sorrow. In Mostar, souvenir shops sold pens that had been crafted from spent shells and necklaces made with bullets. Bomb-pocked roof tiles had been made

by Sue Spirit

into lamps. Despair fashioned into resignation, or, just maybe, hope. Adding to the dark feeling of the town, shops also sold faded, greasy-looking black t-shirts featuring the head of Tito the former Yugoslavia’s communist dictator from post-World War II days until 1980. Life is so hard in Bosnia that most of the people actually long for the good old Tito days. Most of the town’s parks were turned into cemeteries during the 90’s war. There simply was no place else to bury all the dead. One vacant, weedy lot, however, was given as a thank-you gift, after the war, to the Jews of the town, to build a synagogue. They had not fought, but had served as medics to help bind up the wounds of the town’s Muslims. The lot’s iron fence was decorated

travel with menorahs, awaiting the time the synagogue would be a reality. We had lunch in a low building that looked like a bomb shelter, where the absinthe river, Neretva, looked as if it would burst its banks. A sober waiter ladled lentil soup and passed roughcut bread, then slices of baklava – an unexpected joy. The bridge was rebuilt in 2005, a world peace project of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. A small rock at the entrance reads, “Don’t Forget ’93.” Many of the people admit that they can forgive, but they can’t forget. Down the road from Mostar is Medugorje, a little town where the Virgin Mary was to have appeared to the people of the village, asking them to pray for peace. People began to flock to Medugorje from all over the world. On April 5, 1992 – ten years later to the day – war broke out in Bosnia. :::::

Above: A small rock at the entrance of the bridge sends a powerful message. Left: A bridge, replacing a 16th century stone bridge that had been blown up in 1993 by Bosnian Serbs in Mostar, was rebuilt in 2005 as a world peace project of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Sue Spirit



transform | travel

tally reaching out in tanzania As I settle into this season and thinking of the possibilities it holds, the things I might do and the people I might meet, my thoughts wander to the Rev. Talmage (Tally) Bandy. Tally is a petite lady with silver hair and a light in her eyes that draw others to her. She is a retired Episcopal deacon, but retired is an ironic depiction because today she is truly serving in the deacon’s role: caring for the world’s marginalized. Tally, age 77, is a wonderful case of someone who welcomes events as they unfold unexpectedly. When she says, “Yes,” to them, life becomes a great adventure. Tally demonstrates that the attitude and mindset with which one chooses to receive life is one key to the journey: one does not have to be limited by age. Tally greets life openly. When I met her in 2009, she was planning a second mission trip back to Tanzania with her friend and artist, Jessie MacKay. I had the opportunity to chat with her while sitting on the floor working on a paper craft; Tally, with a limberness that defies her age, joined me on the floor. She describes herself as a cat with many lives, and as I listen, it doesn’t take long until I learn of her real love – Karimu, a non-profit charitable organization. Tally and Jessie were originally invited in 2008 to teach in Tanzania, Tally at Msalato Theological College and Jessie at the Bishop Stanway Primary School. It was there that Tally experienced the hardships of Africa – together with the thankfulness and generosity of a people who have so little. Tally fell in love with Africa and the people of Tanzania.

Tally speaks of taking tea with a student in Tanzania and as she reached to take a



Photo by Jessie Mackay

“Nothing is as it was. On this kind of journey you return a different person – you never come all the way back,” she says.

travel | transform

Photos by Rev. Talmage Bandy

Clockwise from left: A local priest speaking with an elderly man. An example of housing. A village woman completing her chores. Previous page: Tally holding Baby Grace. Tally was in Tanzania the year the child was born and has been back each year at Baby Grace’s birthday.

sip, the student asked if they were not going to offer thanks. “We say grace at mealtimes,” Tally explains, but the student said that in Tanzania they even thank God for a glass of water. Another haunting story she tells is how in time of drought a priest and chaplain said, “Our God is great. Even if we die, He is enough.” He said this even as his own children were starving. Tally describes a people with no material possessions, by our standards – hospitals with dirt for floors, funerals for babies, and extreme drought conditions. But she also found them, despite the conditions, full of praise and thanksgiving. The people of Tanzania still share what they have, seeming to operate out of a mindset of abundance instead of the scarcity that is so evident. Tally feels as if she has been given so much more than she gave during these visits to Tanzania.

Together, Tally and accomplished much.



for a year for the students at Msalato Theological College.

They have raised money and donated bicycles providing graduating priests with transportation to serve in villages often miles apart. They left three bicycles in Ikowa Village for the women who spend most of each day walking to get water.

All of the funding flows through Karimu, its mission, “… to give hope and encouragement at the grassroots level in providing universal primary and adult education, health care, access to clean water and adequate food to sustain and improve life among the poor.”

They have started a micro-lending project with $500 for women to buy piglets that cost $19 each. Three separate groups of women have each been given a loan and are responsible for spending the money, paying back the loan and using any profit to buy more pigs – a new role for the women that would have been given to men in the past.

Follow Tally and Jessie’s experience on the Karimu blog at

They also have secured grants to provide English lessons for the wives of the priests since English is the official language in Tanzania. They also acquired a grant to provide food

Tax-deductible contributions for Karimu can be mailed to the organization’s treasurer, William L. Rose, 10 Walnut Creek Road, Pinehurst, NC 28374. No amount is too small and all help is greatly appreciated. :::::

Naomi Faw



lease or purchase?

transform | auto

When it’s time

to acquire a new vehicle, have you considered a lease instead of purchasing? Many people might not because of the perception that leasing is not as desirable or because they aren’t very familiar with how it works.



But in reality, leasing a car is much like renting a house or apartment instead of buying, and can be a very good alternative. Let’s take a look at automobile leasing and what some of the benefits can be for you.

First is the monetary advantage. A lease payment for a car is based on the financial institution’s estimate of what the depreciation and “usage” fee for the vehicle will be over the term of the lease.

auto Lease terms vary but the most common leases are 36 or 48 months. Since you are paying only for the time you are using the vehicle, the payment can be significantly lower than purchasing. In addition, the down payment is frequently lower as well, meaning less money out of pocket up front. Second, many people who choose to lease also find it desirable because it makes it possible for them to tradein more frequently without being concerned about a payoff. So if you like to drive a new car every few years, this might be a great option for you. Plus, because the payments are lower, you may be able to afford a better-equipped, higher-priced vehicle as well. Third, are maintenance considerations. In most cases, a leased vehicle is covered under factory warranty for the entire term of the lease, alleviating maintenance concerns. And finally, if the vehicle is for business use, there can be tax advantages to leasing over buying. Check with your employer or accountant to see if this applies to you. As for disadvantages, one of the most common has been that most leases come with a mileage allowance per year, which is typically about 12,000 miles. So for those who routinely drive in excess of that amount, leasing has not been as good an option in the past. However, leases today can be tailored to address the mileage minimum and still maintain an attractive payment, so this may not be a deterrent any longer. And one more those who like for a long time purchasing will option.

thing to consider, for to keep their vehicle (more than six years) likely still be the best

Still not sure which is right for you? Ask your sales consultant to review both scenarios with you so you can make an informed decision. ::::: Christie Wallin is the director of marketing at Modern Automotive Network, Winston-Salem. (336) 722-4191, Fax (336) 726-0288.



transform | high country courtesies

automobile accident protocol Twenty-five percent

– that’s the chance you will be involved in a serious automobile accident during your lifetime. According to one insurance company, your chances of experiencing a minor “fender bender” in any one year may be as high as one in eight. To cope with those stressful, unexpected “accidental” events that do not involve serious injuries, here are some pointers to prevent further injuries and to facilitate your speediest possible repair process. Be







vital information in your car, such as insurance cards, automobile registration and emergency contact information for you and your most frequent passengers. Also have copies of any pertinent medical information documenting medications or conditions that would require special action in the case of a serious injury (for example, a list of blood-thinning medications, or diabetes medications along with medications that could cause an allergic reaction). Keep all this information bound or enclosed together, easily accessible in the glove compartment. A disposable camera plus a pen and paper kept with your vital information can expedite

the documentation of an accident. Cell phone cameras work for this purpose if you have a way to download the pictures from your phone. By carrying emergency flares or warning triangles in your trunk, you can provide needed visibility and warning for other drivers around accident scenes. A first aid kit and flashlight can prove life saving. If you are involved in an accident Try to stay calm. Health and safety are the first priorities. First, assess yourself and your passengers; then check the occupants of the other vehicle(s). If there are injuries, call 911 for an ambulance and the police. If cars involved in

high country courtesies | transform the accident are in traffic, move able passengers from autos to safety, away from moving vehicles. Use automobile hazard lights to alert traffic. In low light situations, use any flares, cones, and /or warning triangles available. Wait for police to arrive before moving automobiles. Andy Harkins, of Nationwide Insurance, suggests calling police to file a report, even for minor accidents, as protection for all parties. In addition to filing a police report, police can supervise the moving of vehicles, negotiate traffic flow around the scene, assist in the exchange of information and determine if any drivers were intoxicated. By recording the facts of the accident in a police report, drivers furnish insurance companies with necessary tools for their investigations (and any resulting lawsuits). Without a police report, other parties may later claim injuries that were not apparent at the accident scene. In situations where law enforcement agencies have a policy of not responding to accidents where there are no injuries or suspected driver intoxication, a state vehicle accident report can be downloaded from the state’s department of motor vehicles website or filled out at a local law enforcement agency station, then filed. If you suspect driver intoxication, insist on an officer on the scene. As soon as health and safety issues are adequately addressed, exchange driver and vehicle information: driver’s license numbers, names, addresses, phone numbers, vehicle registrations, insurance company policies and contact numbers, license tag numbers, and the make, model, year and color of the vehicle(s). Should the driver’s information not match the name on the registration, note the relationship of the driver to the registered owner along with contact information for both. Document damages to all vehicles involved. Take pictures with a camera

or cell phone camera. Record the exact location of the accident, along with the date, time, weather and road conditions. If witnesses have stopped to assist you, record their names and contact information. Should the other driver(s) disagree on the facts of an accident, witnesses may provide verification. By calling your insurance company, initiating a claim from the scene of an accident, and having the other driver(s) speak to your insurance representative, your company has a recorded version of the accident to expedite your claim. Most insurance companies charge their clients “points” for both personal property damages and for medical bills, along with pain and suffering compensation, paid to other parties. Whereas lower personal property damages may not incur points, pre-set limits dictate the boundaries of points charged. Insurance points are separate from points charged against your driver’s license by the DMV for traffic violations and accident liability; insurance points cause increases in insurance premiums. When damages are minor, parties may consider not involving insurance companies but directly paying for the damages. However, should the “paying” party decide the expense is too high, compiling evidence for a claim at a later date is most problematic. Consider that insurance companies often set time limits for reporting accidents. Also be aware that each driver has the option of reporting the accident to his or her own insurance company. Be courteous and respectful to all parties At the scene of the accident, sign documents only for the law enforcement officers. Restrict your discussion of the accident to law enforcement officers and insurance company representatives. Both insurance companies and lawyers recommend not claiming fault or liability at the scene of an accident. Unless you

According to one insurance company, your chances of experiencing a minor “fender bender” in any one year may be as high as one in eight.

or your passengers have injuries, remain at the scene of the accident until law enforcement officers give you a copy of their report and release you. When the unexpected occurs, a little preparation, clear thinking for everyone’s safety and physical welfare, and a clear documentation of the event can facilitate the speediest possible recovery. Drive carefully, put those cell phones down, and may all your travels be safe.


Sharon Carlton, High Country Courtesies ©2011

Sharon Carlton conducts High Country Courtesies customer service workshops and is director of High Country Cotillion, a social education program for youth. She writes and speaks on modern etiquette and life skill topics. Contact her at



transform | hiking

rocky spur rambling a hike to mount leconte by christy hamrick

I purchased six items for the six-and-a-half mile hike to LeConte: two pairs of Smartwool socks, two pairs of sock liners, a waterproof trail map, and the guide book, ‘Hiking Trails of the Smokies.’ It’s only six and a half miles to the lodge. How hard could it be? I walked six to seven miles at the Greensboro watershed in two to three hours after work of an evening. I didn’t fully process the elevation of Mount LeConte at 6,593 feet. My friend, Terri, and I met Uncle Clyde and Aunt Suzy at the Hampton Inn, located a couple of stoplights away from the national park entrance. Gatlinburg is a conglomeration of food chains, airbrush T-shirt stalls, temporary and permanent tattoo parlors, “Made in China” souvenir knickknack shops, old timey photo booths and assorted wedding chapels. The exhaust from the continuous line of vehicles on U.S. Hwy. 441, mixed with lingering second-hand smoke from pedestrians rushing to buy fudge. Instant gratification is the town’s mission. The constant whirlwind of activity deflects attention from the towering Great



hiking | transform Smoky Mountains commercial strip.



We loaded our vehicles, after continental breakfast the next morning, and turned at traffic light No. 8 onto Historic Nature Trail Drive. As we crossed the national park boundary, the scenery shifted from tourist trap to lush green woods. It was a different world. Rainbow Falls trail goes up the left side of LeConte Creek. We reached the falls after 2.7 miles and dug into Aunt Suzy’s trail mix of cranberries, cashews, and chocolate drops. Rain patted our nylon hoods as we stepped gingerly on the wet rocks and snapped photos on the log bridge. The woods were laced with galax; Rosebay rhododendron and big yellow coneflowers lined our rocky path. We clomped along heartily as Uncle Clyde and Aunt Suzy reminisced about their mule rides into the Grand Canyon; Terri shared stories of hiking in the Canadian Rockies. At 4.2 miles we spotted the Space Needle and Park Vista Motel in Gatlinburg. Since we had hiked for four hours, we stopped for a lunch break. It had not seemed like we’d been hiking for four hours and the mountains felt wild and untamed. We were a long way from those taffy shops and wax museums below. We left our lilted songs to the winter wrens shortly thereafter. The marble to boulder-sized rocks of Rocky Spur wore on our feet. Blisters the shape of quarters formed on my heels despite the double-layer of socks stuffed into my boots. The soles of Terri’s wellworn hiking boots peeled away and started flapping as she walked. Aunt Suzy apologized for having to stop to catch her breath.

the last ones; their bodies were absent of sweat as they dug Leki sticks into the earth. We had parked one car at Newfound Gap, and the other at Sugarlands. We were hiking through 19 miles total, all in one day. I knew I’d be sore the next day. Uncle Clyde waited until disappeared into the trees.


“But they won’t have seen a dadburn thing on this mountain,” he said. After seven hours of hiking we reached the junction of Rainbow Falls and Bull Head trails. We glanced at the steep half- mile of rocky terrain separating us from the lodge and two nights of rest. “I don’t think I can make it,” Aunt Suzy said. “C’mon, baby,” Uncle Clyde encouraged. “It’s like three laps around Poplar Springs cemetery. I’ll carry your pack.” Terri and I watched with quiet reverence as my uncle helped his bride slip off her backpack and strapped it to his own. “I’d better pick up my pace. This is pretty heavy,” he said. Aunt Suzy, Terri, and I waded through the rocks as Uncle Clyde sprinted ahead to arrange our accommodations. Ferns and moss blanketed the ground under Hemlock and Fraser Fir trees. We had reached the top at 6,593 feet. After a hot meal and warm basin bath, Terri wrapped silver duct tape around her boots and proudly showed them

off. “I look kinda like Michael Jackson, huh?” The lodge manager pushed a box of Band-aids along with a roll of duct tape across the table to me. “Be sure to put it over your Band-aids; keeps them from slipping loose,” he said. Aunt Suzy laughed over her breakfast coffee the following morning. “When ya’ll went up to Cliff Top to see the sunset, I stayed behind to wash off and go to bed early,” she said. “I was so worn out that I thought I was preparing myself for burial. I just knew I’d die from exhaustion if I tried to make it back down the mountain.” One fellow hiker rocked on the back porch of the dining hall and chuckled. “I come up the Alum Cave trail because it’s one mile less than all the others. When you get down to it, it’s just a long way. That’s why I buy the kids T-shirts once we get up here,” he said. Fog lingered on the mountain after breakfast with the four of us. The 46 other guests packed up their belongings and began their descent. Terri followed a white-tailed doe and her fawn toward Cliff Top. I stretched into a sun salutation on our cabin porch and rested my eyes on the fog burning off the lush green mountaintop. LeConte is a long way, but it’s a journey worth traveling. :::::

Christy Hamrick

No apology needed. We were ready for the break. We’d been climbing 1,000 feet in elevation every mile and a half. Youngsters between the ages of 19 and 25 breezed past us. Two fresh-faced girls with neatly banded pigtails were MAY 2011 | AAWMAG.COM


transform | young at heart

share a pair I am a firm believer that you can never have too many pairs of gym socks. That is probably why I travel with a bag that barely fits into the lockers at the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center and contains my own personal sock arsenal. After finding myself at the gym with no socks a few times and having to make a “quick” trip to Walmart to purchase more or endure wearing grubby sneakers without a layer of cushy, cotton protection, I decided never again. I have developed a routine to ensure that I am never sockless:

1 50

Purchase large quantities of gym socks MAY 2011 | AAWMAG.COM


Immediately put all pairs in gym bag


Wear and wash socks


Repeat step #2

I recently learned that not all gym-goers have the same routine. Twice, while I was changing into my workout attire, the woman with the locker next to mine exclaimed that she had forgotten to put socks in her bag. For some, maybe it is a bit like gambling – will I have socks, will I not have socks? For others, maybe it is a subconscious excuse not to workout. For a few, maybe you genuinely enjoy

wearing sneakers without socks. And, for others still, maybe you have a pile of clean socks at home but have not yet developed your own sock routine to get them into your gym bag. (See above for suggestions.) Regardless, of why women find themselves sockless in the gym locker room, it must be a fairly common occurrence, because the Wellness Center now sells socks. Not realizing that I could potentially turn a profit with my sock arsenal by undercutting the gym, I chimed in and offered my sockless neighbor a pair. I didn’t make the offer because I was

young at heart expecting anything in return (I actually expected never to see the socks again), but because I have socks to spare and I think we women should support each other. I consider many of the gals with whom I Zumba or swim or spin to be friends. The support and camaraderie are two of the main reasons why I am encouraged to spend an hour each day keeping fit. Even if I didn’t know the two sockless women, it never occurred to me to keep silent and let them suffer while I guarded my sock trove. So, I dug deep in my bag and handed over a pair of socks. My gesture was greeted with shock, followed by doubt, then thanks and assurance that my socks would be washed and returned as soon as possible. One pair was washed and returned as promised; I never saw the other pair again. These encounters have made me consider how women interact at the gym. Are we kind to our sisters? Do we help each other? Do we share? I have developed relationships and feel that I could ask any one of my gym buddies for a pair of socks, or a hair elastic or shampoo if I had a need. But, would I feel comfortable asking a stranger or would I instead suffer in silence? I suggest that we all pack extra socks in our gym bags and pass them out to each other when the need arises or just because. In fact, I am now declaring May 18 to be National Share a Pair of Socks Day – just because. It will be like that movie, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” except with socks. So, ladies, if you find yourself at the gym without a pair of socks, give a holler and I’ll share a pair. If you find yourself without a change of underwear, however, you are on your own. :::::

Heather Brandon



transform | beauty

Accenting our makeup is vital for that springtime “lift” that we all desire and need. Color is the secret and one of the season’s most vibrant is honeysuckle – that deep, pink shade that comes very close to being red. Brighter colors are on the horizon this year. But, while trendy, keep in mind that not everyone can effectively wear the same vivid colors, so make sure you know what works best for you. For those lacking the courage to go bold with something like orange, sticking with beige or brown rarely fails for that soft, natural glow. Just adding a little bit of color will make a big difference when it comes to the “look” that you want to call your own. Changing something as simple as your mascara, eyeliner or blush will have a huge impact on your overall appearance. Trying shades that are not as daringly bold – such as browns and plums – will work best for the more mature woman.



beauty Smoky eyes are still in – but keep in mind that softer, more neutral tones might be more suitable than the stark black unblended look. With mascara, you can never go wrong with black – it gives the allusion of fuller, more voluptuous lashes. Regardless of the colors you choose, maintaining a fresh and even complexion is vital. Always remember, healthy skin is critical to having your makeup work for you while giving you a clean and lively look for any season. ::::: Kelly Penick




friend or foe?

healthy lady | transform We all experience stress. It can be a positive force that motivates or a negative force that destroys. When you experience stress, the pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland nestled in your brain, releases a hormone called adrenocorticotropin, or ACTH, that travels through the bloodstream to the pair of adrenal glands located above the kidneys. The adrenal glands releases 3 stress hormones: • Norepinephrine – The ‘do it now’ hormone. • Epinephrine – The ‘anxiety’ hormone. • Cortisol – The ‘defeated’ hormone. Each of these stress hormones is released in different ratios based on the challenge we are facing.

Manageable, short-term challenges, such as running a race, or making a sale’s call, trigger the release of more norepinephrine relative to the other stress hormones. Norepinephrine is the ‘do it now’ hormone. It stops the production of insulin, the hormone that helps clean sugar out of our blood. This is so you have enough sugar for needed energy to fulfill the task. Pressing but short-term challenges, such as a traffic jam or company coming for dinner, trigger the release of more epinephrine relative to the other hormones. Epinephrine is the “anxiety hormone.” It slows down your digestion and suppresses your appetite so that you can focus on the challenge at hand, rather than eating. This is one of the

reasons stress goes hand in hand with gastrointestinal problems. Chronic stress triggers the release of more cortisol relative to the others. Cortisol is the “hormone of defeat.” An excess of this hormone can make you feel overwhelmed, totally discouraged, and convinced there is no way out of your debt, your marriage issues, your illness or your work overload. Unlike the other stress hormones, cortisol effects are long lasting. And those effects are very damaging.

The Damage to your Body You crave high-fat, high-carb, and salty foods Essentially, cortisol creates an urge to overeat junk food. Once you eat, your body releases opiods, a cascade of

transform | healthy lady rewarding brain chemicals that create a “comfort food” addiction: You feel stressed. You crave junk. You overeat junk. You feel better. If you don’t consciously avoid this pattern, you can become physically and psychologically dependent on “comfort” food to manage your stress.

that wraps around the body’s organs. Visceral fat increases your risk for heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. It lowers your immunity. This makes you more vulnerable to everything from colds to cancer and it impairs your brain function.

Your body ‘eats’ your lean muscle You Store Fat When stress continues for a long period of time and cortisol levels stay high, the body will resist weight loss. Cortisol will also turn immature fat cells, into mature fat cells that stay with us forever. Worse yet, cortisol can actually transport fat from healthier areas, like your butt and hips, and distribute it to your belly. It turns healthy peripheral fat – the fat that is used as cushioning – into unhealthy visceral fat, “belly fat”



Cortisol has another amazing power to tell your body which foods to burn for energy and which foods to store. If you need energy for short-term stress, cortisol can take your fat, in the form of triglycerides, and move it to your muscles for more strength. If your stress is relentless, cortisol will break down your muscle tissue to release the stored sugar (glycogen) to use for energy. Over time, it not only will break down your muscle, but it will break down

your skin, leading to easy bruising, and your bone, leading to osteoporosis. Bottom line: Stress makes you sick, tired and fat. So do yourself a favor and cultivate serenity in your life. When you are under stress it is time to take a take a deep breath, say a prayer and go for a walk. This will not only bring serenity to your soul, but also healing to your body. :::::

IMPORTANT NOTE: For those of you who are plagued with ongoing anxiety and dread that is inhibiting your ability to function, check with a knowledgeable health professional for treatment options.

Bonnie Church Certified Wellness Coach



Photo by Melbia

Happy Mother’s Day

All About Women May 2011  

All about women of the High Country.

All About Women May 2011  

All about women of the High Country.