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The Journey Home by Leda Winebarger

publisher Gene Fowler

executive editor Tom Mayer

editor Sherrie Norris 828.264.3612, ext. 251

Copy editor Anna Oakes

writers Sherry Boone Heather Brandon Sharon Carlton Yogi Collins Jeff Eason Laine Isaacs Linda Killian Heather Jordan Ariel Parsons Sarah Ann Schultz Sue Spirit

production & design Meleah Bryan Jennifer Canosa Kristin Powers

advertising Leigh Ann Moody 828.264.6397, ext. 271

cover photo by Sherrie Norris

Photo by Sherrie Norris

Any reproduction of news articles, photographs or advertising artwork is strictly prohibited without permission from management. ŠCopyright 2013 A Mountain Times Publication

contents news bits 7 from our readers 9 laine isaacs 10 mom’s world 12 michal chapman 14 reaching to recovery 16 living well 18 jinx miller 20 little angels can’t huddle 22 vera coykendall 24 bessie eldreth 25 Merry Christmas from the family farm 26 christmas memories 34 the perfect gift 35 high country courtesies 36 by the book 38 leslie shavell 40 travel with sue spirit 42 young at heart 44 home décor and more 46 christmas recipes 48

Merry Christmas from the family farm







laine isaacs

michal chapman

jinx miller

vera coykendall

bessie eldreth



editor’s note

This is my favorite time of year! I love December and all the preparations and people that make the Christmas season so special. For some reason, I am more sentimental this time of year than at any other time — and I try my hardest to make it peaceful and joyful for those around me. Perhaps, it stems from the Christmases of my childhood when my family often had to depend on others for our Christmas cheer, especially one year, when I was nearly four. Many of you have heard my story before — about my dad’s eight months in the veteran’s hospital in Johnson City, and our family in our little Crossnore home with only the bare necessities to meet our most basic of needs. And how, at Christmas, our neighbors and friends gifted us with food and most all that we needed to make our hearts merry. And, yes, that’s the year that I received my little doll, Donna, at our church Christmas program. She turns 50 this year and will again be placed beneath my tree as a symbol of things that really matter. I hope that each of you will be filled with the spirit of Christmas this year and that you will share it with those in your midst. Of course, I make it no secret that Jesus is the greatest gift in my life and his coming to us is what Christmas is all about. The opportunity to share tangible gifts with others is just a sweet reminder of his love for us. May each of you be blessed in a wonderful way during this amazing holiday season. Merry Christmas,



newsbits&clips Ladies Night Out features mammograms at Ashe Memorial By Heather Samudio One out of every eight women born today will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life, according to the National Cancer Institute. These statistics make mammograms an important screening to have done, health officials say. Many women dread having their annual mammograms, and some will even put them off. Ashe Memorial Hospital is working to make the test easier through Ladies Night Out Mammogram Parties. The first of several Ladies Night Out events was held in November. “The parties afford women the convenience of having their mammograms done after hours in a relaxed environment, while connecting with other women and also stresses the importance of early detection and prevention of breast cancer,”

says Patty Faw, AMH administrative assistant. “In addition, warm robes will be provided for every woman, along with a complimentary glass of wine and desserts.” For women who have never had a mammogram, AMH is offering a baseline screening for free. For those who have had a mammogram, the participant’s insurance will be billed. Many insurance companies pay 100 percent for mammograms yearly as a preventative measure. For women who have no insurance, the Women In Touch endowment can help. The WIT program is coordinated through AMH and has funds available to assist in paying for the mammogram as well as the reading. Certain criteria must be met to qualify for the assistance. Technologists will perform the screen-

ings and can answer questions, Faw says. Educational materials will be available with topics of detection and prevention of breast cancer. Bone density screenings will also be offered for individuals who wish to have them done. A physician’s order is required for this screening. Women who would like to sign up for the party should call (336) 846-6266. “Participants need to be sure that for insurance purposes, it has been at least a year and one day since their last mammogram in order for insurance to pay for it,” Faw said. The Ladies’ Night Out parties continue throughout 2014. Events are planned for Dec. 17, and in 2014 on Jan. 28, Feb. 25, March 25, April 29, May 27, June 24, July 29, Aug. 26 and Sept. 30.

AAW participates in Hands of Hope On Oct. 28, All About Women editor Sherrie Norris participated in the Jobs for Life program sponsored Hands of Hope, the Watauga County affiliate of the national organization Christian Women’s Job Corps. As a nonprofit organization, Hands of Hope was established to provide a safe Christian context in which women (especially the underemployed and unemployed) are equipped for life and employment, and in a missions context in which women mentor women. This purpose of equipping women for life and employment, says local coordinator Cyndi Ziegler, is fulfilled when a woman has basic life skills necessary for self-sufficiency within her culture. “At the heart of our program are a weekly Bible study and a one-on-one mentoring program, so that each participant has someone to walk this journey with her,” Ziegler says. “We also offer a 16-week job skills training program, using the Jobs for Life Curriculum, which provides a unique job training and support strategy that empowers people to be successful at work and at life.”

Participating in the Hands of Hope Roundtable are, l-r: Crystal Noakes, certified life coach, social worker and counselor, Tiffany Christian, professor of sociology at Appalachian State University and owner of GiGi’s Uniforms at Boone Mall, and Sherrie Norris, editor of All About Women magazine. Photo submitted

Through the training, women develop character and become connected to a community of support to help them obtain far more than just a job. They experience life, a life filled with confidence, self-control, coaching, learning and faith. The class equips the students with core work readiness skills such as presenting

their 60 second commercial, developing a vocational plan, building a resume, learning effective interviewing skills and many others. Sherrie was joined during her presentation by regular attendees in the program and by Tiffany Christian and Crystal Noakes, who also offered insight into their professions and offered encouragement to the participants. Each presenter shared about the company with which she works, as well as its culture, job requirements and what characteristics their companies look for when hiring new employees. Program students were given opportunities to ask questions and discuss their own hopes and dreams for the future. Follow-up presentations in November included mock interviews during which local employers assisted in helping students prepare for future job interviews. For more information on future programs through Hands of Hope, email handsofhopeinthehighcountry@gmail. com.



Changes at Boone Chamber The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce is delighted to welcome Barbara Armstrong to its management team as manager of administrative services. She and her husband, Reid, have lived in the High Country for more than 10 years. Barbara brings past chamber experience, accounting skills and computer expertise to the operation.  According to Dan Meyer, president/CEO of the Chamber, “Barbara is a smiling, people-oriented, tech-savvy, member-minded individual who loves serving our High Country business community.” In addition, Wysteria White, a loyal 10-year staff member at the chamber, has taken on additional responsibilities as manager of member services.  Wysteria is all about responding to member and guest calls with an audible “can do” attitude.  She is also responsible for chamber communications – e-blasts, the chamber e-VOICE web newsletter, arranging grand openings and much more.  Meyer says, “Wysteria is an integral part of everything the chamber does.”

Barbara Armstrong, standing, and Wysteria White round out the management team of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. Photo submitted

HCWF funds agencies benefitting women, children by Jeff Eason It’s not often that charitable donations exceed their financial goals. But that is just what has happened with the High Country Women’s Fund. Its annual Power of the Purse Luncheon raised more money than anticipated, so the charitable organization was able this year to pass on more money to its partners. On Monday, Nov. 11, representatives from a variety of organizations met with the High Country Women’s Fund at the Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock for the “Circle of Friends” gathering. During the gathering, HCWF distributed checks to the organizations, which serve women and children in Avery and Watauga counties. “We were able to distribute more than $83,000 this year, thanks to the Power of the Purse and other fundraising efforts,” says Jenny Miller, fundraising coordinator for the HCWF. “To date, we have distributed more than half a million dollars to local organizations.” During the event, checks totaling $21,558 were distributed to The Children’s



Claudia Gross of Daymark Recovery, center, explains how a $6,000 grant from the High Country Women’s Fund will help develop a child care facility at its Avery County facility. With her are, left, Melissa Selvy and, right, Becka Saunders. Photo by Jeff Eason

Council, the Children’s Playhouse, Community Care Clinic, Hospitality House, Mountain Alliance, WAMY. and WeCAN. Counting the $59,000 that HCWF distributed earlier this year, plus other allocations such as emergency funds, a total of $87,608 in assistance has been granted in 2013. The HCWF also gave a $6,000 check to support Daymark Recovery service’s new child care program in Avery County. Daymark’s Avery county program now matches the Watauga County child care program.

The HCWF also regularly funds OASIS (Opposing Abuse with Service, Information and Shelter) and the New Opportunity School for Women at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk. “New Opportunity School for Women was not given additional money because their program has already ended for this year, their enrollment was down, and they’ll have another opportunity to apply for funds for their 2014 program well before it begins,” says Becka Saunders, allocations director for HCWF. The event gave attendees the opportunity to adopt needy families by selecting an ornament from an “angel tree.” Each ornament represented a particular family and included a wish list of items that will be fulfilled this holiday season. Newcomers to HCWF were able to find out more about the recipient organizations through a “speed dating” seminar where they spent three minutes with the council chair. For more information on the High Country Women’s Fund, visit www.hcwf. org.

Reader feed back Editor’s note: We have been overwhelmed by the responses we’ve received from the November issue of this magazine, and in particular, regarding our cover stories that reflected the strength and perseverance of Paige Mast and Sarah Townsend. We are grateful to both of those young ladies for sharing their heart-wrenching journeys with us, and to those of you who took time to share your thoughts. Our limited space will allow us to share just a few of those kind responses:

Having moved to Ashe County recently, we have tried very hard to read everything about the area so we know more about our "chosen" home. After a recent workout at Mountain Hearts, the health and wellness facility of Ashe Memorial Hospital, we picked up All About Women and brought it home to peruse. The stories of Sarah Townsend and Paige Mast were not only written beautifully, but tasteful and heartwarming. There are so many times when we, as people, feel our burdens are so big. It is not until we stop to read stories like those you wrote in the November 2013 issue that we are brought to our knees. Thank you so much!

-Jane T. Huber, West Jefferson I get your magazine every month, however, I must say this issue was one of the best issues I've read. Sherrie's notes as well as the articles were both poignant and inspiring. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire magazine. Thanks to all the contributors, and keep up the good work!

-Rosetta B. Everhart, Creston I love your magazine. Thank you for keeping it real.

I can't tell you how deeply these two stories touched my heart. I imagine you conveyed their stories just as they would've wanted them told.

-Jennifer Miller, Boone Such touching stories from two very inspirational and special women in our community!!

-Lauren Maltba, Zionville Thanks for all the wonderful stories that you share with us through All About Women.

-Mary Wallace, Deep Gap Such a heartfelt issue, but truly what women of faith. Thank you so much for doing an outstanding job in telling their stories. Touched my heart.

-Kim Greene Scott, Vilas This edition is a keeper! I enjoyed every story. You know how to get to the heart of the matter.

-Joyce Perry Ragan, Boone

-Robbin Trice, Newland



The Gift of a

Second Chance Humor me for a moment, and think back to your senior year of high school. Were you working, planning your graduation or getting ready for college? In May of 2005, at age 17, I was doing all those things. Then my life took a very different turn. It all started in 2004, when I started having headaches for the first time in my life. Soon after, my peripheral vision became blurry and spotty. After a few weeks, it worsened enough that I couldn’t read or watch television, and driving was impossible. I saw many doctors for these symptoms, but none of them offered concrete answers. In April, I began vomiting 10


repeatedly, sometimes up to 20 times a day. Finally, the last doctor I saw was so concerned he insisted I have an MRI scan immediately. The next morning, I met with a neurologist. I’ll never forget the way she unceremoniously glanced at the MRI images, then turned to me and said, “Don’t be scared, but you have a brain tumor.” The afternoon that followed was a bit of a blur, but I remember that my family and I drove directly to North Carolina Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem to see Thomas Ellis, a neurosurgeon my neurologist had recommended. He explained that the tumor could be especially

devastating because it was located on my pituitary gland. My stomach sank as Dr. Ellis told me my condition could be chronic — or fatal — but he couldn’t be sure until a biopsy had been done to determine the type of tumor I had, and how it could be treated. At that point, my high school graduation was eight days away, but I didn’t have the strength to walk across the stage to accept my diploma. As it turned out, my biopsy took place the day before the graduation and I was in the neurological intensive care unit at Baptist while my classmates accepted their diplomas. I was diagnosed with a germinoma, a

Throughout my treatment, I worked hard to maintain a positive attitude. I saw how many other cancer patients seemed depressed, so I made a point to smile and greet almost everyone with whom I came into contact. cancerous brain tumor. My radiation oncologist, Dr. Kevin McMullen, determined I would need 28 sessions of radiation therapy to eliminate the tumor. Before treatment began, McMullen’s assistant informed me of the consequences following radiation. He explained that I would lose most of my hair because the radiation would be aimed at my brain. I had assumed that chemotherapy was the only treatment that resulted in hair loss, but that wasn’t true. Not only would I lose my hair, but because my brain was exposed to radiation, I would struggle with short term memory loss and dyslexia, and as a result, there was a strong possibility I would lose my creativity as a writer. I had planned to study creative writing in college, so this news was devastating. Over the next few weeks of treatment, I was in denial about what my doctors had told me. I just didn’t understand how I could lose my creativity. After three weeks of radiation, my hair started to fall out. I also noticed that, although I wasn’t inspired to write poetry anymore, I was still writing constantly. I think I basically refused to give up on my creative expression, so I wrote anything that came to mind, hoping it would lead to inspiration. At the end of June, I received my last radiation treatment and returned home to Boone. I had an MRI on July 21, 2005, which confirmed that the brain tumor was gone. Throughout my treatment, I worked hard to maintain a positive attitude. I saw how many other cancer patients seemed depressed, so I made a point to smile and greet almost everyone with whom I came into contact. That was all very easy — until my treatment ended. In the months that followed, I grappled

with a sense of loss. I felt grateful to be in remission, but I didn’t have the energy to go to college. My headaches persisted, I had lost most of my hair and I hadn’t written poetry in months. Those were the days that tried my faith the most. During my treatment, I was so busy staying optimistic that I hadn’t considered the next phase of life and what it would mean: living with daily headaches, taking multiple medications for the rest of my life and figuring out just what was going on with my creativity. Eventually, I recognized the unexpected blessings that resulted from my illness. My nurses became my friends, I drew closer to my friends and family, and most of all I was given a second chance at life. Eight years later, I’m one of the best germinoma cases my doctors have seen. My hair grew back, and I honestly haven’t had a bad hair day since! I still have frequent headaches, difficulties with my medications, and energy issues, but those are small prices to pay to get to live my life. I never wrote another poem, but I now have a communication degree from Appalachian State University, and I’m excited to see where my love of writing will take me next. Four years ago, I got the word “blessed” tattooed on my right arm as a reminder of how much God has given me. On days when I’m frustrated with my health, I close my eyes and take a moment to thank Him for the gift of a second chance.


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Ready or Not,

Christmas is Upon Us It is odd to me that, in this culture, we are set on introducing Christmas decorations at the same time as Halloween costumes. Being alarmed by animatronic dogs barking Christmas carols is a pretty harsh awakening into the holiday season. However, the weather seems to follow suit, with pleasant fall days suddenly obliging hard frosts and breath in the air. I must admit that it takes a while for me to feel “ready” for the mental state and physical realities of the Christmas season. I have never been one to go get a Christmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving. In truth, there have been years when we have not set up our tree until days before Christmas Day. Despite this fact, I actually love the holiday season. Living in “Christmas Tree Country,” as we know it, I start to get a sense of the season approaching by looking around my neighborhood and our community. Tractor trailers arrive and park in lots that had been empty, and other trucks are loaded down with Christmas trees that are crammed into netted sleeves and lined up, as if going to summer camp. Tree lots compete for attention with lights and promises of the most beautiful trees at the greatest prices. Santa Claus packs his schedule with appearances everywhere from the mall to a local diner on Highway 29. Everyone is telling us not only that we “must” be getting ready, but also that our wallets should be open. Commercialism is hard to avoid and spills over into our children’s wish list for Santa,



which may include iPads, tablets or other train that only runs once a year around the high-end items over the Barbie dolls, Star base of the tree and setting out the ChristWars figures, sleds and books of my childmas cookies for Santa and carrots for the hood. reindeer. And yet somehow, we hustle and I attempt to discuss Santa’s limited bustle our way through. budget and the reality that the elves are This year, I hope to come up for air simply overworked. Even so, certain activiamidst the drowning din of cash registers ties remind us that it is not all about the and picture packages with Santa. When I spending frenzy. start to feel anxiety building, or have recalCertainly, while a snowy December culated what we could spend yet again, I necessitates thinking through logistics am redirecting the debit card highway to a of how and where one decides to travel, it place a bit more pristine. also elicits the dreamy, winter wonderland At that point, the Christmas cookie scenery that most people just get to see cutters need to come off the shelf, snowon Christmas cards. Hot apple cider, hot men ought to be built, and even the holichocolate, fire in the fireplace, productions day “Holly Jolly” music may have to surof The Nutcracker face. Commercialism is and choral concerts Truthfully, without hard to avoid and such non-commercialalso lend themselves to creating spills over into our ized representations of the Christmas spirit. the holiday season and Standing outside children’s wish list our families, we might for the Boy Scouts’ as well just bark like for Santa, which Klondike Derby is a Instead, here’s may include iPads, dogs. pretty good remindto wishing all a silent tablets or other er, as well. While night and peace on the sales get our at- high-end items over earth. tention, these other events and rituals the Barbie dolls, Star gain our intention, Wars figures, sleds as we strive to get and books of my our hearts in the childhood. right place. When most of us reflect on childhood, I would hazard a guess that most of us do not heather jordan, CNM, MSN fondly recall trips to the shopping center Comments or questions? or mall, but rather snuggling in front of 828.737.7711, ext. 253 a fire, getting to work the controls on the

‘Tis the Red Kettle Season Salvation Army High Country Outpost Director Lt. Michal Chapman prepares a Red Kettle.

Salvation Army Bell Ringers Benefit High Country If you think you are hearing bells when you shop this month, don’t become alarmed. The Salvation Army bell ringers are making their annual jingle as they man their familiar red kettles at the entrances to local retail establishments. From Nov. 22 through Dec. 24, as they do each year, the bell ringers are offering a gentle reminder of a very simple way to impact lives of less fortunate High Country residents. “All funds raised here stay here,” says Salvation Army Lt. Michal Chapman. “Money collected from the red kettles is used to fund the Salvation Army Social Services and other support service programs that we offer.” The High Country chapter of one of the world’s most recognized charitable or-



ganizations provides local assistance with food, clothing, furniture, utilities, fuel oil and rent, as well as medical expenses and transportation and special Thanksgiving and Christmas assistance. Further pursuing a mission goal of meeting human needs without discrimination, the Salvation Army is also involved with nursing home ministries. “Volunteering as a bell ringer is an easy way to help your community,” says Michal. “If you enjoy people, like to smile, enjoy wishing others ‘Merry Christmas,’ and are willing to volunteer for a few hours or a full day, please call us.” Individuals, civic organizations, businesses, church small groups and Sunday school classes are encouraged to get involved. Volunteers younger than 16 may

serve when accompanied by a parent or sponsoring adult. Bell ringers are needed for shifts Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Groups of friends can split a shift, allowing several acquaintances to volunteer for short periods. High Country residents can also support the ongoing services of the Salvation Army by shopping at the Family Store at 7979 NC Hwy 105 S. in Foscoe, or by donating clothing and household items for resale at the store. Michal, serving as the High Country Outpost Director, invites the public to visit the service center facility off Greenway Road in Boone. “We offer Sunday worship services, Bible study and fellowship meetings,” she says. “This is a place to celebrate God’s work in our lives and in our commu-


Retired Captain Marilyn Chapman, right, supports her daughter’s ministry at the local Salvation Army Church. Photos by Sharon Carlton

nity. Our worship services are at 11 a.m. on Sunday.” Plans are also underway to start a weekly Celebrate Recovery large group meeting in early 2014. “Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered recovery program based on eight principles from the beatitudes,” she says. “It is open to all those seeking recovery from any addictive behaviors or healing from dysfunction. This biblical and balanced program is an efficient tool that can help people overcome hurts, habits and hang-ups.” Although Michal was raised by parents who were officers and ordained pastors in the Salvation Army church, she chose a very different path in her early years. “In my teenage years, I was an alcoholic and I smoked pot and used other drugs. I drank for many years. My life was not my own; I lived in a very dark place,” she says. Her experiences of those many years resulted in her deep empathy for others in recovery. “I have met many believing Christians who struggle living day to day in recovery,” she says. “I believe the Celebrate Recovery perspective of Christcentered recovery will benefit many people here. In CR we recognize Jesus as our higher power; we are free to celebrate Him and praise Him.”

On behalf of the Salvation Army, Michal expresses gratitude for those who drop their donations into the red kettles during this season of giving. “Your donations make it possible for us to meet the many human needs around us,” she says. “We especially want to express our appreciation to our partners – Walmart, Kmart, Walgreen’s, Belk, JC Penney, Harris Teeter, Ingle’s and Lowes Foods in Boone and Banner Elk – for allowing us to place a kettle outside their establishments.” For more information about Celebrate Recovery, worship services or serving as a volunteer bell ringer in Watauga or Avery Counties, groups or individuals may contact Michal at (828) 262-1005 or at Michal_ To learn more about the Salvation Army and the services it provides, visit

2082 Blowing Rock Rd • Boone, NC 28607 828-264-4660

Sharon Carlton Sharon Carlton, High Country Courtesies ©2013 As founder of High Country Courtesies, Sharon Carlton writes and speaks on modern etiquette and life skill topics. She is Director of High Country Cotillion, a social education program for youth and conducts High Country Courtesies customer service workshops. Contact her at



Reaching to Recovery with gifts of comfort

Front row, from left: Representing two area churches during their presentation of Reach to Recovery pillows: Peyton Trivette, Autumn Ward, Cammie Church, Abby Winkler with Deborah Minton Kirksey; back row, from left: Renee Ward, Kathy Gilliam, Derena Bradley, Linda Harmon, Dianne James and Myra Cook. Photos by Sherrie Norris

A group of young women and 100-plus pillows equal many hours of comfort for breast cancer patients recuperating from surgery. That’s the message conveyed by Deborah Minton Kirksey of Boone who not only recently received the pillows on behalf of the local Reach to Recovery program of the American Cancer Society, but also shared with the young women the importance of their gifts. Deborah was invited to Proffit’s Grove Baptist Church near Boone on Sunday, Nov. 2 to accept the gifts that were made during Vacation Bible School earlier this year as a joint project of the youth classes of Proffit’s Grove and Willow Valley Baptist Churches.



As a breast cancer survivor herself, “Then, Linda Harmon from Willow Valley Deborah expressed how the pillows make learned what Dianne’s girls were doing a positive impact upon the recovery proand wanted to help, too.” cess. Describing “They are especially the pillows as helpful when wearing “beautiful, to say seatbelts in the car, as the least,” Debothey take the pressure rah says her heart off the surgical site,” was “overjoyed by she says. “Unfortunately, the time and love these little pillows disthat had been put appear quickly, which into each pillow.” means we have a lot of Deborah says women in the area who the supply will need them,” she says. hopefully last “for “Dianne James, the Dianne James and Deborah Minton Kirksey share quite a while,” pastor’s wife at Proffit’s a special hug. and that she was Grove had heard about our need for pil“very grateful” for the young women and lows and offered to help,” Deborah says. their leaders for the time, talent and efforts

that were put into the project. “They made them from bandanas,” Dianne says, “three sides of which they sewed up before stuffing. Then, along with personalized cards they also made, they placed them in little canvas tote bags.” A lady at her church, she says, had sewn the breast cancer emblem onto the bag. “You have no idea what these pillows and the cards mean to our recipients,” Deborah says. “The sweet words that they have written will brighten many days for our patients.” Deborah and Mary Ruble, also a breast cancer survivor, work with dozens women in the area each year as they cope with their breast cancer experience. Their involvement begins when individuals (men, too) are faced with the possibility of a breast cancer diagnosis and continues throughout the entire period that breast cancer remains a personal concern. As specially trained volunteers through Reach to Recovery, both Deborah and Mary offer a measure of comfort to their patients and family members as they allow them the chance to express feelings, talk about fears and concerns, and ask questions of someone who has already made it successfully through the journey. Deborah and Mary not only offer their patients frequent phone calls, but are also “more than willing,” Deborah says, to spend quality time with them, accompany them to doctor’s visits, be there during surgery “and any other time they

A few of the 100-plus pillows made by young women at Proffit’s Grove and Willow Valley Baptist Churches.

You have no idea what these pillows and the cards mean to our recipients,’ Deborah says. ‘The sweet words that they have written will brighten many days for our patients.

need us.” They also provide up-to-date information, including literature for spouses, children, friends and other loved ones, and when appropriate, provide breast cancer patients with a temporary breast form and information on types of permanent prostheses, as well as lists of where those items are available within a patient’s community. As a token of appreciation, Deborah presented each of the young women and their leaders

with a pink rose and with a cupcake decorated in pink icing. “From all of our Reach to Recovery patients, we just want to publicly say thank you to these wonderful girls for their gift of love,” she says.

Deborah Minton Kirksey expresses appreciation to the young teens for their gifts of love by presenting each one, and their leaders, with pink roses. sherrie norris Editor, All About Women



LivingWell Did you know that sitting might be as bad for your health as smoking?



One study claims that if you are older than 25 years of age, every hour you spend sitting is as lethal as smoking one cigarette. That means four hours of sitting is like inhaling four cigarettes. Although that fact might be debatable, this fact is not: The human body was designed for movement, not sitting in a chair or lounging on the couch for hours at a time. It is estimated that Americans now sit for more than half of their waking hours. Prolonged sitting stops the production of vital enzymes and hormones needed to metabolize fat and keep blood sugar stable. It also exerts forces on the body that it’s not built to accommodate. The result is, at best, muscle aches and stiffness — at worse an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and early death. To maintain your health, it is recommended that you do not sit without moving for more than two hours a day. “Moving through the day” is not the same as vigorous exercise. Optimally, we need to break a sweat at least 30 minutes every day. “Moving through the day” means periodically stretching, standing, fidgeting and walking. Small changes can produce dramatic results. One study found that those who took short breaks to stretch or walk down the hall had smaller waists and leaner, healthier bodies than those who sat for long, uninterrupted chunks of time. They weren’t eating differently or exercising more. They were just standing up and moving more. So let’s get started. It does not require fancy equipment or much thought. It just requires getting in the habit of standing up and stretching every so often. As a matter of fact you can start right now. Simply stand up and walk in place as you read the rest of this article. Better yet, walk to your friends’ desk and share this article with her. Let’s get started.

A DOZEN WAYS TO INCORPORATE MOVEMENT INTO YOUR LIFE: 1. Rock in a rocking chair while 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

watching TV. Stand up, stretch and move during the commercials. Skip the drive-through at the bank. Park and go inside. Wash your own windows, scrub your own tub. Park as far from the door of the grocery store as possible. Replace your office chair with a therapy ball. If you have to stay seated for

long periods of time, shift in your seat, rock, fidget and stand periodically. 8. Go to the playground with your kids and play. 9. Walk while you are talking on the phone. 10. Instead of meeting a friend for coffee, meet for a walk. 11. Instead of sitting and reading a book, listen to an audiobook while walking. 12. Get a reliable pedometer. Cal-

culate how many steps you are walking a day. Increase 500 a day until you are walking at least 5,000 and ideally 10,000 steps a day.

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A More Comfortable, Better and Peaceful World By Sarah Ann Schultz



Most people don’t know that Jinx Miller isn’t just the coordinator of Appalachian State University’s Listening Post chapter. She’s also the coordinator of the Listening Post organization nationwide. The concept of the Listening Post is simple. The listeners set up a table on campus a couple times a week. They set out apples and peanuts on the red-andwhite checkered tablecloths. And they wait, available to listen to anyone who wants to talk. Jinx first heard about the Listening Post at her older sister’s funeral. A native of north Georgia, Jinx moved to Boone in 1991 with her two sisters, Marge and Linda, to retire. Jinx and Marge lived together for 17 years before Marge died from diabetes and kidney failure in 2009. It was at Marge’s funeral that Jinx’s longtime friend Tommy Brown approached her about being the coordinator for the Listening Post, a project he’d seen in action and wanted to bring to ASU. Without hesitation, Jinx agreed. The Listening Post was created in 1979 by communication professor Mabel Barth in Denver. Mabel wanted to establish a safe place where students and faculty could be heard in a non-threatening environment. Throughout the 1980s, her idea multiplied across the nation. After Marge’s funeral, Jinx and Tommy pitched their idea to several churches in the Boone community. They didn’t need much funding, just enough for the light refreshments they offer their visitors. What they really needed was volunteers to be the listeners. Six churches agreed to sponsor the project: Baird’s Creek Presbyterian, First Presbyterian, Rumple Memorial, St. Luke’s Episcopal, St. Mary of the Hills and Holy Cross Episcopal. By the fall of 2009, the Listening Post at Appalachian was up and running. As the coordinator, Jinx’s responsibilities include a lot of scheduling and organizing, or “herding cats,” as Jinx refers to it. As much as she loves listening, she often ends up giving up her spots to volunteers who ask for more time to listen. A lot of her time is spent planning, coordinating

with the university, training the listeners and communicating with people outside of Boone who want to start their own Listening Post. “She’s really dedicated to the Listening Post,” listener Ray Richardson says. “Whenever I think of the Listening Post, I think of Jinx.” When Mabel Barth died at age 103 in June 2012, Jinx was one of the few coordinators who still kept in contact with the central office of the Listening Post. Mabel’s once-lively organization had degenerated into sparse communications with very few Listening Posts. The board of trustees had disbanded, and most of the Listening Posts had become more or less independent from the national organization. Jinx kept in contact with the volunteers until, finally, she agreed to be the coordinator for the national Listening Post. “But nobody knows I’m here!” she says laughing, smile wrinkles bunching at the corners of her brown eyes. “We’re still working on getting ourselves better organized.” Jinx and her army of 12 listeners are committed to keeping the national group up and running. Listener Greg Erikson is working on putting Mabel’s print material online, but it isn’t open to the public yet. And for now, Jinx is focusing on expanding the Listening Post to other parts of Boone. Jinx wants to eventually set up the Listening Post at F.A.R.M. Café, 3rd Place and Caldwell Community College, where Jinx was a communication professor for five years. “We never feel like we’re done,” Jinx says. “We’ve always got more plans.” And the Listening Post isn’t Jinx’s only contribution to the High Country community. She’s also an elder at Baird’s Creek Presbyterian Church and the creator of Vintage Valle Music, an outreach of Baird’s Creek. “I just want to make a better world for where I am, always with the sure knowledge that whatever impression I’m making here is going to grow,” Jinx said. “I want to make all of my world comfortable, better and peaceful. That’s why I do what I do.”


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Little Angels Can’t Huddle



Years ago, my Grandpa and Grandma Morgan were active in a little Baptist church in the foothills of North Carolina. Well, Grandpa was active anyway. He was the janitor, choir leader and church treasurer for many years. But, he didn’t start at the bottom and work his way up — he handled all three simultaneously. Grandma did her part, too. Each Sunday morning she saw to it that she and their seven children were ready to go back to church with Grandpa, who had already been there once that morning, either to open the windows or build a fire, depending on the time of year. I just know, in my heart, that my grandma gave her best at Christmastime. I can’t know for sure, since I wasn’t there, but I have a pretty good imagination. Several Sundays before Christmas, when the announcements were made between Sunday school and preaching, Grandpa would have said (he made the announcements, too), “It’s time to plan our Christmas play. We need volunteers. Who wants to be Mary?” The prettiest young girl in the congregation raised her

hand, knowing full well that she’d get the part. (Just where in the Bible does it tell us that Mary was pretty?) “How about Joseph?” Grandpa asked as he looked out into the congregation for last year’s Joseph, who was happy to volunteer, too, because he liked Mary — a lot. Next, the travelers who come from a far. “We need a few shepherds, three kings and a wise man or two,” Grandpa would say, and hands went up all over the room. He probably asked one of the ladies to write down the names of the volunteers. Grandpa could write, but he wanted to share the responsibility. But, he didn’t ask for angels. He didn’t have to. He and Grandma had an angel band of their own. Seven little girls to be exact, ranging from cherubs to teenagers.

The excitement that only Christmas brings had filled the hearts of everyone, the young and old alike.

the haloes and made sure that all wings stayed in good flight condition as the “mini-multitude” of the heavenly host waited for their turn to be on stage. They were, also, no doubt, the peacemakers who saw to it that the “littlest” angels, Maxine and Carolyn, didn’t get pushed around by a rowdy shepherd boy in the back room. But, then, Little Maxine was a redhead. She could take care of herself. My mama, Delilah, was the oldest angel, and was probably the most bashful. I don’t think she would have been the angel with the longest and most familiar line: “Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. …” No, I think that part went to Frieda. She had a clear, strong voice and truly loved to talk. Hazel would have been the “angel in charge,” making sure her sisters marched in on time. She was a good organizer. I can almost hear Hazel and Mama singing “Angels from the Realms of Glory,” with Mama carrying the melody and Hazel, the alto. Mama agreed to sing only if Hazel sang with her.

After the angel announced the birth of the Christ Child, Mary and Joseph received the visitors and accepted their gifts for Him. The congregation then stood and softly sang, “Silent Night.” The sweet aroma of apples drifted across the room. And, before the families left for home, each child was given a bag containing an apple, an orange, a few nuts and a stick of candy. The excitement that only Christmas brings had filled the hearts of everyone, the young and old alike. Here’s hoping you are able to experience one of our Christmas pageants in the High Country during this glorious season and experience the spirit of Christmas falling on you like the soft mountain snow.

sHERRY BOONE Local writer who shares her personal stories with others in hopes that they, too, will be comforted by some of life’s sweet memories.

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I can see Grandma, in my mind, bleaching every sheet she owned — and some that she borrowed — to make their robes. She was very creative, so I am sure that haloes and wings were no problem for her. The biggest problem with the robes would have been on the night of the play. You know how little girls are. They’ve always got a secret to share. Even the tiny ones. And it’s almost impossible to whisper a secret without making contact, by cupping your hands on someone’s head and huddling together. But little angels can’t huddle. If they do, they get crooked haloes and uneven wings. So, Ruth and Louise kept watch over DECEMBER 2013 | AAWMAG.COM


‘So happy to be here’ Vera Coykendall Celebrates 102 Years of Life

At 102, Vera Coykendall is still strong and loving life. Photo by Sherrie Norris

Vera Coykendall celebrated her 102nd birthday at St. Elizabeth’s of the High Country Church in Boone in late October during the monthly gathering of the Second Wednesday Club. “I’m just so happy to be here,” she says. Vera came to the High Country seven years ago from Florida to be near her daughter, Beth Jones. A current resident of Forest Ridge in West Jefferson, Coykendall lived at Appalachian Brian Estates and Deerfield Ridge in Boone prior to a fall last October that resulted in a fractured hip. Her condition fluctuated following the break to the point of requiring hospice care; her condition improved and she had surgery to repair the fracture. “Her anesthesiologist was fascinated that her medical condition really only required Tylenol and a vitamin, on a normal day, with vital signs better than a 40-year-old,” says Beth. A native of Rochester, N.Y., Vera has had “an interesting life,” she says, and one that has been lived to its fullest. She “never dreamed” of making it to 100 — or going beyond, she says, but it’s not surprising that she inherited the genes of her grandmother, who lived to age 103. Vera was 16 when her father died from having his tonsils removed in a barbershop; as the oldest child of five at the time, she helped her mother raise her siblings. Prior to Vera’s birth, her parents had lost three children at one time whose deaths were attributed to eating soup made from wild mushrooms. She captured the independent spirit of her mother and credits “determination” to her longevity. Vera and her husband, a career military



engineer who was awarded a full medical discharge after contracting tuberculosis, parented two children: Beth, and Joel, who makes his home in Jacksonville, Fla. She was a busy wife and mother who volunteered in various church, community and civic affairs. During the 1950s, she established a club for the wives of retired military officers in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. She was a longtime Girl Scout leader, but never thought it appropriate to have her daughter in her own troop. And she loved to play bridge — “lots of bridge,” she says. “Back in the day, married women didn’t work, or at least we didn’t get paid for what we did,” she says. Vera has had a lifelong affection for animals; her daughter remembers stories of how she dressed up their animals for parades, including the family’s donkey, with a peach basket tied on his head. “She was always able to find joy in the smallest of life’s events,” Beth says. Vera remembers having lived through several wars and the Great Depression and says she has had her share of good times and bad. In particular, she recalls the flags flying to signify the end of World War I. She remembers, as a volunteer for the Red Cross, during WWII, driving dignitaries from place to place, “and nearly scaring them to death.” According to her daughter, “She always says another depression would help people become more appreciative, capable and respectful.” One of her most vivid memories was made while attending the premiere of “Gone With The Wind” with other Army wives in the 1930s at Fort Jackson, S.C. “I got scared and left the theatre as people around me shouted, ‘Damn the Yankees.’” Her admiration for the South has since improved. “I love living here in these beautiful mountains— and the people are so good to me,” she says. Vera has long been known for her straightforward thinking, an outgoing personality and a keen sense of humor. She easily relates stories from her vast collection of life’s experiences. Among the

most recent that still “stings,” she says, is being “encouraged” to relinquish her driving privileges at 95. “She has told me that she may go get another license and buy one of the villas at Forest Ridge,” says Beth. Vera has known her share of “important people,” through the years, and remembers well George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company. “He sponsored dispensaries in all the schools and provided dental fillings and cleanings to students for five and 10 cents,” she says. Having had “good dental care” instilled in her at an early age, Vera has “good teeth” — and only two fillings. She has no doubt that she is the favorite patient of Boone dentist Todd Moore, who she tells every six months during her check-ups that shaving his beard would make him “look younger.” She hates onions “because of those smelly poultices my mother and grandmother put on my chest when I was a child,” she says. Otherwise, according to her daughter, her motto could easily be, “Everything in moderation.” Vera became a widow in 1970. “My mother had good friends — mostly men,” Beth says. “She has always been observant, and sensitive, to those who found themselves alone.” Prior to her husband’s death, she had not worked out of the home, but helped with his business transactions. “Her own ‘big deal,’ her daughter describes, “was buying and selling real estate along the Florida coast.” Her greatest pride is in her children, she says, and her four “successful” grandchildren — a teacher, accountant, doctor and lawyer — who heeded her advice about education always being “the ticket.” She also has nine “amazing” great-grandchildren, she says, and loves to surround herself with younger people who enjoy life. Two years past the century mark, she’s still going strong and loving every minute. sherrie norris Editor, All About Women

‘Miss Bessie’ Still Singing at 100

Bessie Eldreth, a local icon known far and wide for her many talents — and her efforts to preserve mountain heritage — reached yet another milestone recently as she became Boone’s newest centenarian. Photo by Sherrie Norris

Award-winning balladeer and storyteller Bessie Eldreth of Boone reached her 100th birthday on Oct. 22, but a few days later, she said, “I thought I was just 75.” Known far and wide for her dramatic ballads and ghost tales, her wit, wisdom and dance moves to a good fiddle tune, “Miss Bessie,” as she is fondly known, is no stranger to the spotlight. Through the years, she has represented the High Country and North Carolina’s traditional culture at festivals across the Southeast, and as far away as New York City and Washington, D.C., the latter at which in 1987, she was chosen as a North Carolina delegate at the Festival of American Folklife. She has claimed numerous awards including the 1994 Brown-Hudson Folklore Award and the 1998 North Carolina Folk Heritage Award. Her family members say it was at a 1988 performance at the Festival for the Eno in Durham, with granddaughter Jean Reid, that her reputation as a folklore storyteller got its start. Reid encouraged her to tell the story of the 1940 flood that ravaged the mountain area; she did and took first place honors with a cash prize of $500. Bessie was also a cover feature in 1995 for the North Carolina Folklore Journal, was featured in All American Woman Magazine (2009) and has been the subject of numerous lifestyle stories in the Watauga Democrat, The Mountain Times, All About Women magazine and other regional publications. She collaborated with and was the subject of a book by Patricia Sawin “Listening for a Life: A Dialogic Ethnography of Bessie

Eldreth Through Her Songs and Stories,” published by Utah State University Press, 2004. In the mid ‘70s, Bessie was visited in her home by actress Stella Stevens, who traveled Castleford Road with an entourage of “fancy cars and cameras,” she said in an earlier interview, to include her in a feature-length film she produced and directed called “The American Heroine: Part One: A Dream of the South.” “I never did see it, so I don’t know if she put me in the final film, or not,” Bessie says. As a reminder of that occasion, a large autographed poster of Stevens continues to hold a place of honor in the Eldreth home. Despite her fame, Bessie said not long ago, “I’m just me. None of that attention has ever done a thing to change who I am.” Born Bessie Killens on Oct. 22, 1913, on an Ashe County farm, she was the third of 14 children. She was 3 when she started singing — and has never stopped. “No matter where I was or what I was doin,’ my faith and my songs brought me through — good times and bad,” she says. “I never let my heartaches or my work keep me from singing.” At age 11, she and her sister had their own team of horses and were in the barn before daylight harnessing them up for a full day’s work. “We’d take them up on the mountain and drag out timber all day. Then, we’d use a crosscut saw and cut it up. We’d come in so tired at night that we could hardly move, but I’d still be singin.’” She married at 16 — at her mother’s insistence, she says. “The day I married, I threw myself down in a big old field and cried ‘til I thought I would die.” As her children came along, her hard work continued. “I worked like a horse many days for 50 cents,” she says. “I sold my only pair of shoes for $2 one time and then used the money to buy a pig so I could feed my young’uns.” Only a short time before her husband’s death in 1976 did she begin to perform publicly. “He didn’t like it one bit,” she says, “but it was part of who I was. I realized it was something that might help somebody.” Her first public appearance was before a large audience “of big-shot lawyers and

doctors from all over,” she says. “I was so nervous, I was shakin.’ I wish I’d had me a nerve pill when I went out on that stage, but by the time it was over, I felt right at home.” She quickly overcame stage fright, she admitted, but was never more comfortable singing anywhere than when in church — and in the choir. “The Lord gave me my talent, and I always believed if I didn’t use it for him, he would take it away.” Claiming a repertoire of 200 songs or more, most of which were preserved in memory until recently, as well as in her books filled with hand-written ballads, Bessie made an outstanding contribution to music in the mountains and to the preservation of local heritage. During her recent birthday celebration with her family, Bessie was asked if she still danced. She stood up from the living room couch and shuffled her feet around the floor in a rhythmic motion. “I think I’ve got a little dance left in me,” she said with a grin. “There’s nothing wrong with dancing — they did it in the Bible.” Less than an hour later, she was asked if she still yodeled — and again, she proved that she had not lost her knack for performing. Her family members say they are blessed to have had their mother as long as they have and expressed pride that she is the matriarch of five generations with 121 descendants, 115 of which are still living. In addition to 11 children, Bessie is the grandmother of 31 grandchildren, 46 greatgrandchildren, and 33 great-great grandchildren.

sherrie norris Editor, All About Women



Photo by Sherrie Norris

From the Family Farm A farmer’s life is a busy life, but that of the farmer’s wife and two daughters has in recent years taken on a new meaning in Avery County. Buck Hill Christmas Tree Farm, named for the community just south of Newland where it all began for successful cabbage farmer Jack Ollis and his family several decades ago, now includes a pastoral mountainside with panoramic views, a few miles away between Altamont and Linville Falls. Approximately 275 acres make up the family farm, on which cattle and sheep are raised, bees are kept, and yes, Christmas trees are grown — by the thousands. This time of year is the busiest of all for the Ollis family, which includes Jack and his wife, Margaret, their daughters Carol and Elaine, Carol’s husband Mark Gay, and their children, Laura and Brian. Even in the early 1970s, when Jack supplied cabbage for Winn-Dixie stores across the southeast, Margaret and the girls worked in the fields. Margaret, especially, helped pull and set plants, as well as cut cabbage, and occasionally rode in the cabbage truck, which Jack or her dad drove to Charlotte at 4 a.m. each morning. It was during the late 1970s that Jack first tried his hand in the tree business and soon became one of the area’s major growers. In 2003, Jack and Margaret moved from their longtime home in the Pyatte/Buck Hill area to a new mountain-top residence in Altamont. Now officially retired, Jack and Margaret still maintain a strong presence on the farm, but it’s Jack who says, “We are thrilled that the girls have come back home and are able to make a living off the farm.” The women of Buck Hill Christmas Tree Farm are a strong force together, but each has her own story of how she found her way back to the farm from her own career path.

Margaret Ollis Margaret Ollis, the daughter of Geneva Mohr and the late C.C. “Tex” Mohr, was born in San Antonio, Texas, where her father, in the Air Force at the time, was stationed. They lived in Georgia and West Virginia, before settling in her mother’s hometown of Crossnore in 1953. As the eldest of four children, Margaret learned responsibility early in life, she said, and through 4-H, she learned to cook and sew. Jack Ollis of the Pyatte community was her high school sweetheart who she married while still in school. Carol, their first child, was born in 1961 and Elaine in 1966. Between the two, their daughter, Sarah, born in 1964, died at one month of age from a type of cancer known as lymphosarcoma. As a young wife and mother, Margaret continued her education and commuting to Appalachian State Teacher’s College in Boone (now Appalachian State University), where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in education. She later received certification in gifted education and taught for a total of 21 years in Avery County Schools. “For three years, I taught sixth grade,” she says, “and I taught gifted and talented students for 18 years.” She retired in 1987 to help Jack in the Christmas tree

Margaret Ollis with her prized canned goods from this year’s garden. Photo by Sherrie Norris

Quest for the Quilt For the last six or seven years, my husband, Jack, and I have gone to Ohio to visit the Amish country. We love to go to the draft horse sale and to travel the back roads and see all the beautiful farmland and people working. While Jack would stay at the horse sale, I would visit the furniture stores and quilt shops, admiring the beauty and craftsmanship of both. The quilts especially attracted me because I could see hundreds of hours of stitchery that went into piecing the complex designs and then hand-quilting each one. No won-



der they are so expensive — ranging from $600 to more than $1,800! I admired them and even dreamed of owning one, but never really expected to do so. Then, in the summer of 2006, our bees had a really good honey season. We harvested enough honey for our family and friends, plus enough to sell. Jack wanted me to have all the money, not even taking out expenses, because I had worked so hard to process and sell the honey. So, I had $865 to spend on a special project. You can guess what that would be — a quilt!

by Margaret Ollis (originally written in October 2007)

We started looking for a quilt on our next trip, in October of 2006. But the selection was very limited because it was the end of the tourist season, when lots of quilts are sold. I was looking for a beautiful queen-sized quilt in purple and green to match our bedroom, preferably with the Lone Star design, since I’m a Texas girl. No luck. Maybe next year. In May of 2007, we went to Ohio again, this time just to see the countryside when it was lush and “flowerful.” Beautiful! But again, no luck on a quilt. Jack said, “Don’t give up; we’ll either find one or find someone who will make you one.” I really didn’t want to special order a quilt, because I wanted to see it and love it at first sight. But if we ordered one, we’d be obligated to take it, even if it wasn’t exactly what I’d envisioned. So we waited, again. October 2007. Time for the Mid-Ohio Draft Horse Sale, again. This time we in-

business. Margaret chuckles at her title: “I am the CEO/SS — chief executive officer of support services, which means I am a gofer and a Jack (or Jill) of all trades.” “Each day is different,” she says, depending on the season and any needs that might arise. From keeping the business end of the farm intact, to picking up parts for needed machine repairs, helping bale hay “and catching the round rolls with the fourwheeler,” to tagging trees, making wreaths and helping oversee the general operation, she rarely sees a dull moment, especially now. Known far and wide as “the bee lady,” Margaret maintains “eight or 10 hives,” she says, a hobby that she has come to love through the years and one in which she has become quite adept. Numerous friends and family members have become regular customers of the honey that is produced, about twice a year. Having always loved growing large gardens, Margaret preserves vegetables in abundance at the end of each harvest season, with special emphasis on veg-

etables, grape juice and salsa, which has about 15 years and has always been inbecome a family specialty. volved in Vacation Bible School. “We tweaked the recipe of a family “I love VBS,” she says, “because it friend and we have a fun salsa day every shares Christ with kids in a fun setting.” fall, in which Carol, Elaine and my grandShe still has a Bible School certificate for son, Brian, all pitch in using fresh vegewhen she was 2 years old. tables from our garden,” she says. While “labor intensive,” it’s also a great day to be together. In the summer, Margaret loves to hang laundry outside on the clothesline. “On a beautiful day, I hunt for something to wash,” she says. A Christian since childhood, faith has always been an important part of her life, she says. She served as choir director at First Baptist Church, Crossnore, for 37 years, taught Sunday School for Margaret Ollis is known as ‘the bee lady’ on the family farm. Photo by Sherrie Norris

vited my cousin, Anna, and her husband, Dick, to go with us. At one shop, we found a quilt that was almost perfect; everything was right — except the price. It was $1,000, which was over my budget. I liked it and probably would have bought it, adding some other money to my “quilt fund,” but it was the principle of the thing — that $1,000 was too much to spend on a quilt! So I reluctantly passed on it. Again, Jack encouraged me to keep looking, but I was very disheartened. On our last day in Ohio, we were driving around the back roads in the middle of Amish country and came upon a little country store we had discovered back in the spring. Delighted, we stopped in for a lunch snack. As Anna, Dick and I were browsing through the store, Jack was talking to the Amish lady who was running the store, whom we had met on our earlier visit. He asked her if she knew anyone who made quilts. She gave him a little grin and said yes, she did know someone. Jack came back through the store and asked me to come with him, because he had found someone who could make me a

quilt. I thought, “Oh, no! I really don’t want to order a quilt,” but I went along anyway. He led me back to her, then we followed her into her living quarters on one side of the store. She had a black and white quilt on the quilting rack. But what was that laying on her couch? Another quilt — green and purple. Could it really be? I didn’t dare to get my hopes up. Size? Queen. Pattern? Lone Star with Log Cabin around it. Was it for sale? No. It was for a school auction and wasn’t quite finished; the binding needed slip-stitching in places. Drats! But Jack asked again if she would sell it, and she said she might be able to get another one to finish in time for the school auction, so she would sell this one. (She had gotten this one, pieced from another lady, then she did the quilting herself, sort of a joint effort.) What would it cost? “Oh, about $600,” she said, “because the consignment shops add $300-$400 to the price the quilters get.” But she couldn’t finish it that afternoon, because she had to help with a barbecue. And we were leaving the next morning.

She said she would knock off $20 if we could finish the slip-stitching ourselves. Since I had sewn a lot, I knew I could do it. Plus, that would let me have a part in my quilt. We settled on a price of $575, which would leave more than enough to buy a rack for the quilt, too. I went to get Anna to show her the quilt. When we came back into the room, the lady said, “I thought you were talking to me, because my name is Anna, too.” Coincidence? I left with the precious quilt in my arms.’ What are the chances that we would find a purple and green queen-size, Lone Star quilt on a back road at a general store on our last afternoon in Amish country? Only the Lord could have worked that out. As Jack said, “Someone up there was looking out for you.” Amen! Note: I don’t remember praying for a quilt, but God knew my heart’s desire and granted it. “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4. DECEMBER 2013 | AAWMAG.COM


Margaret enjoys working puzzles — crossword, jigsaw and Sudoku, and riding the four-wheeler, whether for fun or work. She loves to travel, especially with Jack, and has visited many places in the United States, as well as overseas. “I have been to Israel and to the Ukraine on a mission trip,” she says. To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Jack took her to San Antonio (her birthplace) and then on the Albuquerque, N.M., for the balloon festival. “What a treat,” she says. “More than 500 hot air balloons and I went up in one of them.” That was one

item on her ‘bucket list,” she says, that she was able to cross out. They also love to visit the Amish settlement in Ohio, “driving the backroads and meeting the people,” she says. “We have made friends with several Amish families who have visited with us here in North Carolina. I also was able to purchase a beautiful Amish quilt on one of our trips.” (See “Quest for the Quilt.”) Among life’s simple pleasures that Margaret enjoys are listening to peep frogs in the spring, picnic lunches down by the river, family gatherings and sharing

the farm with others. “I am proud to be the wife of an American farmer,” she says. “I’m thankful for all God’s blessings my in my life — especially my wonderful husband and our two lovely daughters, as well as our son-in-law and our grandchildren.” She is often asked if she misses teaching. “My answer is that I miss the children and I love teaching, but I don’t miss the paperwork and problems,” she says. She does, however, love running into her former students, which she often does.

Carol Ollis Gay Carol credits her parents for instilling within her “a good work ethic” that has followed her through life. “From the time I was about 12, I worked in the cabbage fields,” she says. “When Dad started growing Christmas trees, we worked in the tree fields, too. Whether to work, or not to work, was never an option for us — it’s just what we did.” Those early years on the farm prepared her not only to make a living off the land as an adult, but also to do something she really enjoys. In addition to her role in the family Christmas tree business, Carol owns her own landscaping business, which keeps her busy in the spring, summer and fall — and out of doors. “I am very fortunate to be able to do what I love, and to love what I do,” she says. At 18, following graduation from Avery County High School, Carol had no idea what she wanted to do with her life, but decided she couldn’t lose by going to college for her business degree. Afterward, she moved to Charlotte where she started a new life working in the city — and where she lived for 10 years. In the meantime, she married Mark Gay and they began their family. Their daughter, Laura, is now 24 and their son, Brian, is 21. “After moving back up here with two small kids, I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom,” she says. “That was a

Carol’s specialty this time of year is making Christmas wreaths.



Carol Ollis Gay begins making wreaths by first cutting tips from trees fresh from the fields. Photos by Sherrie Norris

great opportunity for all of us and a decision that we will never regret.” Mark’s job kept him on the road a lot, she says, and it really didn’t matter where he lived. They began growing Christmas trees “on the side” at first and soon traded in their brief-

cases for work boots. Becoming “officially self-employed” as fulltime Christmas tree growers, proved to be another great decision, she says. “God works in mysterious ways. Mark was at home to help raise to teenagers,”

she says. Carol’s love for things that bloom eventually led her to planting flowers for a few homeowners at Grandfather Golf and Country Club. “Once again, a ‘God thing’ happened,” she says. “My business began to grow, and now, I am taking care of 12 lawns.” With a few seasonal employees to help her, she does everything from spring cleanups to planting and caring for flowers, providing general yard maintenance, removing leaves and other beautification projects. Along with her mother, she cares for a garden and when fall rolls around, enjoys harvesting and canning. With each November, Carol is hard at work in the Christmas trees and her specialty, which is making wreaths. “There is so much more to this business than most people can imagine,” she says. “It requires a lot of work and I do a little of everything, except drive the tractor. I leave that job up to my sister, Elaine — who is amazing, by the way. We have a great relationship. We trust each other, believe in each other and look out for each other.” After 10,000-plus trees are out, countless wreaths are made and all seasonal customers are satisfied, Carol heads to a local ski shop where she works for the winter. When spring returns, it’s back to landscaping. Carol admits to loving her work —“and I work a lot,” she says, “but I also enjoy my time off.” She loves the beach and goes as often as she can. “But, it’s not near enough,” she says with a chuckle. “We are fortunate to have good friends who have lake property, so we go with them as often as possible. She also enjoys tennis and skiing, but most of all, spending quality time with her family. Carol and Mark are both active members of First Baptist Church, Crossnore.

I am very fortunate to be able to do what I love, and to love what I do. - Carol Ollis Gay DECEMBER 2013 | AAWMAG.COM


Elaine Ollis

Elaine Ollis has no problem handling the heavy equipment on her family’s farm. Photo by Sherrie Norris

Elaine grew up loving animals. “That’s all I had to play with when I stayed with my grandmother, Lula, during the day while my dad farmed and my mother taught school,” she says. One day when Elaine was around 4 years of age, her grandmother couldn’t find her, but when she “turned up,” she said that she had been on the hill “checking the bull.” She remembers getting into trouble over that incident, but it was just a sign of things to come. “Dad used to let me sit on the bull’s back, and my grandfather let me ride the work horses while they were plowing,” she says.



That led to her desire to ride saddle horses. Her grandfather had fighting roosters, she recalls. At 6, she didn’t like that idea at all. “On the day of the fight, I routinely turned all the roosters out while he was at work,” she says. “When he got home that evening, feeling somewhat desperate I suppose, he gave me $1 for each rooster I caught.” From childhood, Elaine says, she loved animals, and had a natural ability to work with them. “I always knew I wanted to work with animals, in some way, when I grew up,” she says. In her youthful attempt to protect ani-

mals, she had them penned up all over her family property. “Some were tame and some were wild,” she says. “One day I had the bright idea to put a little grass on my middle finger and stick it in the rabbit cage through the small wire squares.” Her finger got stuck, and one of the rabbits chewed it “all to pieces,” she recalls. “My grandmother did not drive, but with was a sense of urgency about it, so she grabbed me and my finger, loaded us into my grandfather’s old three on the tree pickup truck and off we went to the hospital in Crossnore where they sewed my finger back together. My mother met

us there and almost fainted. They gave her smelling salts.” Elaine enjoyed riding horses and playing sports, mostly basketball, from an early age. She played basketball through high school and into college. “I spent 3½ years in Honolulu, Hawaii at Hawaii Pacific University, then transferred to East Tennessee State University, where I graduated with a bachelors degree in business administration,” she says. After college, Elaine first worked for a real estate development corporation and then sold insurance. “In 2000, I was riding horses a lot and traveling long distances to compete in team roping events,” she says. “At about that same time, I decided Texas was the place I needed to be, so I quit my job, loaded the truck and horse, and with my border collie, Paco, I moved to Weatherford, Texas, the ‘Cutting Horse Capital of the World.’” Elaine loved the big ranches there. “And everyone rode horses,” she says. She had the chance to team rope somewhere every night, she says, and compete on the weekends. “That’s what I called fun and I made some wonderful friends while I was there.” She worked for a horse sale company called Western Bloodstock, “a good job,” she describes. “And I got to ride some nice horses,” she says. The heat was intense — “not what I was accustomed to in these North Carolina mountains,” she says. In February 2004, she returned to Avery County. The next month, she accompanied her parents to Berlin, Ohio. During the trip, she attended the Mt. Hope Draft Horse Sale and while riding through the countryside, she saw the biggest field of sheep that she had ever seen. She convinced her parents to stop. “I spent some time talking to the Amish farmer about his sheep, and then I went back out there the next day by myself,” she says. At the end of the day, Elaine had purchased four ewes, ready to deliver their lambs at anytime. Over dinner that evening, she told her parents what she had done. “They were not thrilled at all and asked how I would l get them home,” she says. “I told them that I’d figure something out.” They returned to the horse sale the

following day. “I found a horse trailer in the parking lot that was said to belong to a local N.C. horse trader, so I left him my phone number and a note asking him to call me,” she says. He had to rearrange his own personal items to make room for Elaine’s sheep, but he did and hauled them home for her. “That’s how I got in to the sheep business,” she says. Today, Elaine has “around 42 ewes,” that will start lambing again mid-February. “With no bad luck, I should have around 70 lambs this year,” she says. She plans to sleep at the barn during lambing season. “It will be cold but I can save a lot of lambs if I’m there when they’re born,” she says. That same spring, her dad bought 12 expectant cows and Elaine went into the cattle business for herself. “I’m up to around 30 commercial beef cows and two Angus bulls now — and growing,” she says. “The cows will calve in February and March.” She welcomed 25 calves that were born on the farm this year, including a set of twins. “I didn’t lose any calves this year, which makes it a good season, but that’s not the norm,” she says. Having a calf die during birth, or to cold weather, “or anything, for that matter,” she says is very depressing and a setback to every livestock farmer. That’s your entire year’s profit for that animal, she says. “It pays to be extra diligent during calving season to get each calf out, alive, and up nursing. Then, their mothers usually take it from there.” Elaine keeps only docile cows in her herd, which are also good milk producers. “I would like to open a retail meat store on the farm one day, selling my own lamb and beef, along with wool and cowhide products, and my mother’s honey and salsa — if I can talk her into selling it,” she says. Elaine has four dogs on the farm. “Two border collies that help me in the day-today chores, like sorting and bringing livestock in, and two livestock guardian dogs, which stay with the sheep 24/7 to protect them against predators, mainly coyotes and dogs,” she says. “Dad and I put up hay all summer long to feed the animals through the winter,” Elaine says. “I prefer the Ford tractor and

he likes the John Deere.” With more than half of her life in the Christmas tree business, Elaine is gradually “phasing out of trees to focus on my livestock business,” she says. “It’s difficult sometimes, being a farmer, with no paid vacation or sick days, but there’s nothing more rewarding than going out early in the morning to find a cow licking off her newborn calf while it’s trying to stand for the first time,” she says.

When Elaine Ollis is out in the fields with her animals, she is doing what she loves. Photo by Sherrie Norris

“I’m proud to be part of a third-generation farming family.” In 2007, Elaine was named Avery County’s Farm City Woman in Agriculture. She serves on the Avery Livestock Association Board of Directors, which, she says, meets regularly with the goal of providing education and resources for Avery county livestock owners. She has been a member of Crossnore First Baptist Church since 1972.

sherrie norris Editor, All About Women



Christmas Memories

Christin Ball

Ally King

“One Christmas, all the girls on my mom’s side of the family went to my cousin’s house and made holiday cookies and cakes and treats. The ages ranged from 7 to 70. It was really fun — all the generations of women in my family cooking together.

“My favorite holiday memory was last Christmas when my brother Wrenn came home from Los Angeles. We hadn’t seen him for six months. It was wonderful because he’d been in L.A. all by himself and hadn’t been around friends or family. He had really walked away from his faith, but when he came back to Greensboro, he was around his Christian friends and family members and rekindled his faith.”

“When I was 10, we had just come home from our Christmas Eve service and I had gotten my dad a waffle maker for Christmas. We were all still in the car and I said, ‘Mom, don’t forget, we have to wrap Dad’s waffle maker!’ And then it was spoiled and I was so upset. But then my dad said I would laugh about it and I didn’t believe him. But now we laugh about it all the time!”

Hannah Hayworth

Anna Howard

“My favorite Christmas memory was going to Colorado on Christmas day and spending it on the ski slope with my family.”

“Every Christmas Eve, my brothers and I built a fort in one of their rooms and camped out all together.”

Kristen Schonover “Opening up new pajamas on Christmas eve to wear Christmas morning.”



Photos by Sarah Ann Schultz

Abby Reid

One Shoe, No Holes The Perfect Gift by Joan Price

I was determined to find my sisAs I began to answer her questions ter, Sherry Brown, a shoe for Christmas. about why my sister only needed one Not two shoes, but just one for her right shoe, I spotted a pair of shoes that were foot. That’s all she needed, since her left the exact kind and size that Sherry wanted. leg had been amputated. I picked them up and noticed a hole What are the chances of finding just in the left shoe — but by God’s amazing the “right” shoe, and one that slips on and grace, the right shoe was perfect, with no off easily without holes. It was the cutting off the right size and the circulation to her color and style foot? that she had been I had seen her looking for. wearing a flip-flop I stood there with a sock on her with tears in my little foot and it eyes. I realized, at broke my heart. I that very moment, had also seen her that God knew my looking at shoes heart. He had led on the Internet me past the other and I knew that places I could she would have to have stopped, order a complete where more than pair just to get the likely, I would one she wanted have had to buy and needed. two shoes. Joan Price gets a hug from her sister, Sherry Brown. I couldn’t get it Photo submitted I didn’t think off my mind durI could make it to ing one day at work; and on my way home, the front of the store for the tears running I intended to stop at a store to find her a down my face. There was no doubt in my shoe. mind that God had placed those shoes Road construction kept me from stopthere for my sister — and at the very time I ping at the first place I had in mind and would be there. The shoe was a perfect fit. before I knew it, I was pulling into GoodYou might say it was “just right.” will in Boone. I love to go there to look Thank you, Lord, for sending me to for Christmas decorations that I might be Goodwill. Isn’t that what this season is all able to use at church. about, anyway? Good will? I walked into the store and was drawn immediately to the back of the store where the shoes are displayed. Note: Joan Price lives in Zionville and I started talking to a lady, explaining says she wants to share this story as a testhe situation and the difficulty associated tament to how God is always faithful to with finding just one shoe for my sister. supply our needs.

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Party Appetizer Primer



Holiday parties, weddings and business receptions often require what seems master level etiquette. Since these occasions are “social events,” the priority is to meet and connect with lots of people. Space for people overrides space for tables, thus these occasions provide practice for standing while eating. Balancing a plate and a glass while shaking hands, conversing with others and actually enjoying the tasty appetizers with a semblance of grace, presents a challenge. Additionally, formal party foods present opportunities to set aside your familiar, daily dining etiquette skills and dust off your rusty, formal skills to embrace the myriad of “proper” ways to dine. Before you head into a season of holiday events, consider the following guidelines.

Upon arrival at an event, greet your host(ess) and mingle with the guests before heading for the food. During your initial visiting with others, keep your eyes open for a table where you may later sit, or where you may set your drink and plate. A window ledge may prove a suitable set-down place for your drink. After scoping the possibilities for putting down your drink while eating, plan a brief time to specifically indulge in the offerings. Embrace the opportunity to engage one or two guests while you all eat, then return to mixing with other guests. This approach ensures your right hand is readily available for handshaking most of the event. Although tricky, when no appropriate table or ledge is available for setting down your drink, holding both plate and glass in one’s left hand can be managed. With your left hand open, palm up, grasp a flatbottomed glass with your index finger and thumb, resting the bottom of the glass on the crescent of skin between your thumb and forefinger. A stemmed glass can be held by slipping the stem between either the first two fingers or between the thumb and index finger. Then place a napkin across the last three fingers. If available, a plate may be set on top of the napkin. When holding both glass and plate in one hand, be attentive to avoid over-filling either your glass or plate. A full plate or glass is more easily spilled. Being a courteous guest includes enjoying food and drink in moderation. Over-indulgence of food — and especially alcohol — can trigger tragic, regrettable consequences. If someone engages you in conversation, expecting a response just as you have taken a bite, refrain from speaking with your mouth full. Using the universally understood index finger held up as a signal requesting a moment should prevent you from making a less than attractive impression. Neither accidentally spitting food on someone nor exposing a mouthful of partially chewed food are positive alternatives. Remember to acquire adequate napkins and to use them properly. If you are eating “finger foods” with the same hand you are using to shake hands, wiping fingers will be appreciated by others and

necessary for you. Napkins designated for food service should never be used for blowing one’s nose. Should you need to blow your nose, excuse yourself to the nearest restroom. When serving yourself from a buffet table or a tray, remember to first transfer all items to your plate/napkin before eating them. Foods that are dipped are included in this guideline. After serving yourself, step a few steps away from the table before eating to ensure you are neither eating over the table, nor blocking the flow of other guests around the food area. For items that are dipped or served with sauces, extra care is required to ensure excess sauce does not soil your clothing. When taking a bite of any appetizer, hold the item just above your plate while thinking a silent count of 1-2-3, before lifting it to your mouth. This practice allows dripping sauces to target your plate rather than your party frocks. Returning to dip an item into a sauce once you have taken a bite of the item, commonly referred to as “double-dipping,” is never appropriate in a formal setting. When nuts or other unwrapped foods are served in a common bowl with a serving spoon, you should serve yourself a portion, placing the items on your plate or napkin, then replacing the spoon. Foods can then be eaten from the plate or napkin. On occasions when toothpicks are used to serve appetizers, waste receptacles should be thoughtfully located throughout the facility. Toothpicks can be placed on the side of your plate or wrapped in the edge of a napkin until you can discard them in a receptacle or retire your plate. Toothpicks should never be set on a tray that holds food, nor used to actually “tooth-pick” in public. To avoid burning your mouth on hot appetizers, first discreetly test the temperature by touch while the item is still on your plate or napkin, then bite into the side of the appetizer. Select cold shrimp from a platter by their tails. Smaller shrimp can be eaten in one bite; larger shrimp can be eaten in two bites. Place remnant tails on the edge of your plate or discreetly fold them in a napkin when a plate is not available. Similarly, chilled, plain asparagus can be eaten with your fingers. However, warm or sauce-covered asparagus should be eaten

with utensils. By eating a whole cherry tomato in one bite with your lips closed, you can avoid showering tomato juice and seeds on surrounding guests. The rule of thumb for removing an olive pit from your mouth is to remove it as it entered. If you ate it with your fingers, bring your napkin to your lips, and while glancing downward, take the pit from your mouth with the napkin. You may place the pit on the side of your plate. If you ate the olive with a fork, discreetly use the fork to remove it from your mouth and place the pit in a napkin or on the edge of your plate. With an understanding of the basic tools for appetizer dining at parties, wedding and business receptions, you can be equipped to represent yourself with confidence and grace at these functions. May you enjoy attending events, meeting and visiting with friends and celebrating special occasions this holiday season and for many more to come.

Sharon Carlton Sharon Carlton, High Country Courtesies ©2013 As founder of High Country Courtesies, Sharon Carlton writes and speaks on modern etiquette and life skill topics. She is Director of High Country Cotillion, a social education program for youth and conducts High Country Courtesies customer service workshops. Contact her at

Appetizer Terminology Appetizer refers to food eaten before a meal. Three different types of appetizers include: Canapes — generally cold appetizers eaten with the fingers, made primarily from cheese, meat, vegetables or fish and served on a cracker, bread, toast. Hors d’oeuvres — appetizers eaten with fork and knife. Crudites — raw vegetables or fruit intended for dipping in accompanying sauce.



Rebuilding the Temple A Practical Guide to Health and Wellness With the holiday feasting season in full swing and January’s resolutions for a healthier lifestyle just around the corner, wellness advisor and author Lisa Harris is ready to hold her readers accountable. Her new book, “Rebuilding the Temple: A Practical Guide to Health and Wellness,” presents a spiritual approach to healthy living that encourages people to recognize the links between nourished bodies and thriving souls. Aimed specifically at Christians seeking a healthier way of life, “Rebuilding the Temple” takes its title from a verse in 1 Corinthians 6:19: “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?” According to Lisa, a minister as well as nutritional expert, people of faith have a responsibility to care for the temple of the body just as they care for the spirit within. Her written guide includes two sections: The first deals with bodily awareness and advice for healthy living, while the second covers spiritual wellbeing, touching on such topics as anger and stress management. Having worked to help individuals meet their lifestyle goals for years, Lisa says she has discovered that most people’s wellness needs run deeper than the nutritional deficits at the surface. It is important to pay attention to the way that spiritual issues affect the body and vice versa. Lisa laments the Christian tendency to chalk up health problems to the will of God. She argues that poor health is not a divine burden to be suffered, but rather an opportunity to work in faith to achieve a better way of life. The tools for wholesome living lie in plain sight. “Rebuilding the Temple” focuses on a mindful approach to eating, as well as to life. Lisa advocates forming a “relationship” with food, getting to know it and learning to appreciate its intricacies. Those who wish to develop such a relationship should take the time to sit down and enjoy meals as well as be knowledgeable and honest with themselves about the substances they put into their bodies. Different chapters of her book address topics such as food pairing, hidden ingredients in processed foods and portion control. Lisa points out that a good starting point to mindful eating is as simple as using a smaller plate or limiting snack foods to their listed serving sizes. Most topics discussed in the book will not come as news



to the health-conscious person. It is also worth noting that Lisa, herself, is a proponent of the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, though most of her advice can be applied to any diet. However, “Rebuilding the Temple” displays a refreshing honesty that many books on nutrition lack. Recognizing that every body is different, Lisa does not offer quick fixes or even a single set of rules meant to work for every person. Instead she gives guidelines on healthful eating and awareness of the body’s signals, encouraging people to listen to their own physical cues and intuition to determine what works for them. At under 100 pages, “Rebuilding the Temple” is a quick read, each chapter its own comfortable serving size. One might approach it almost as a wellness devotional, applying its advice for healthy living and thinking, one step at a time. For those wishing to examine their health goals from a biblical stance, “Rebuilding the Temple” is a great starting point, although anyone seeking more indepth nutritional information may want to supplement the book with additional material. “Rebuilding the Temple” urges those who read it to rethink the way they view health and wellness. In the end, every woman, regardless of faith, owes it to herself to take her health into her own hands, respecting and cherishing the physical temple of which she is a steward. Lisa encourages her readers not to be disheartened by what seems at first a hefty responsibility. She challenges them instead to look upward, to rise and to move forward renewed.

Author Bio Lisa Harris, ND, a minister and wellness advisor, works with individuals and groups to help them reach their goals for a healthy lifestyle. Lisa received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and her doctorate in traditional naturopathy. A native of North Carolina, she now lives in Woodbridge, Va., where she is working toward her master’s degree in professional counseling. Lisa speaks at health and wellness events in a number of locations, including churches, schools, colleges and physicians’ offices. She also teaches vegan cooking classes. She self-published “Rebuilding the Temple” in 2013 and has plans in the works for a vegan cookbook as well as a children’s book. Learn more on her website:

Wishing You a Happy Holiday Season! Rehabilitation Services Physical, Occupational & Speech Therapies Long-Term Nursing Care Respite & Hospice Care

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Photo by Yogi Collins



Leslie Shavell From Retirement to Retail When Leslie and Morton Shavell retired and relocated to the High Country home they’d enjoyed for many years, they hadn’t expected to become local owners of a retail store. But buying the Sears Hometown Store franchise in Boone this past summer is proving to be a rewarding, if not new, experience for the couple. “I was retired for almost 11 years,” explains Leslie. “But, like one lady told me, ‘You know, you can only play so much tennis.’ We just needed something different, and it really cements us into the community. We’ve met so many wonderful people.” Though working in retail is new for the couple of 36 years, providing customer service is not. “My husband and I both were stockbrokers for almost 30 years,” Leslie says. “The selling expertise that I had when I was a broker is pretty much the same thing, I think. When somebody comes in, you find out what their needs are, and then you fill in the blanks to determine what is best for them.” Of course, owning and operating a business requires long hours and considerable learning curves, something the Shavells have found to be true, especially considering the extensive product lines Sears offers. “We carry a full line of tools, lawn and garden items, mattresses and appliances,” says Leslie. “We’re not just an appliance store; we also sell Serta mattresses. And when customers come in, we will take care of them, whatever has to be done. Customer satisfaction is our main goal. Although it’s a lot of work, it’s some-

thing you own, you know. It makes a big difference. We work more hours than we probably would if we were working somewhere else, but it’s yours.” And while tackling this new venture has been intense, Leslie raves about the employees who stayed with the store after the Shavells bought it. “Gosh, I couldn’t want better employees,” she says. “They are wonderful. They’ve been here longer than I have, so they were training me in the beginning. That was a wonderful surprise to see how cohesive the group was and how well they work together and support each other.” Approaching their first holiday season in the retail industry, Leslie recognizes that teamwork will be invaluable to generating happy customers. “Our whole goal is service. We take care of the customer, whatever we have to do. The store will be crammed full of all kinds of gift items for the holidays as well as our regular inventory. The holidays will be an interesting experience,” she says with a smile. “It’s just a grand adventure.” The Sears Hometown Store in Boone is located next to TJ Maxx at the back of the Boone Mall. Store hours are Monday – Friday 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sunday noon – 5 p.m.. Call (828) 264-7327 for holiday hours and more information. Yozette ‘Yogi’ Collins Mom, television producer/writer, and obsessive internet researcher. Though her name suggests otherwise, she is not (yet) an actual yogi.

OUTER BANKS THe END OF THE ROAD I well remember the very early days of Degrees of Freedom, our retreat center in 1984 and ’85. There were no paved roads to our place, and women were hesitant to come out to this wilderness, especially after dark or in the dead of winter. In January 1985, we gathered up many pairs of cross-country skis and had a winter festival. We just about froze to death in below-zero weather, but we sure had fun. Twelve women had actually braved the icy wasteland in favor of the warm friendships developing with other women. Kline Road in winter was a spooky, scary place. On down the road past our



lane was a huge snowdrift piled up in a dip in the road. It never melted or was shoveled out until spring. We called it “the end of the road.” It was the stuff of nightmares, yet in a strange way it beckoned. What adventures called to us in this white, no-woman’s land beyond which we dared not go? I was reminded of all this in June when two of us drove to the far north on the only road of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Suddenly, the road ended in huge sand drifts that stretched as far ahead as the eye could see. To add to the mystery, we were told that there were wild horses roaming up ahead. We wanted to go — to frolic with the horses, yet knee-deep sand and lack of

a road held us back. What would it take for us to choose to venture on into the uncharted territory in our lives? Whether it’s a difficult hike, a project that seems impossible, or a scary trip we need to take alone, perhaps we can encourage each other to step out past the end of the road. The annual picnic of our retreat center featured a workshop called “My Bucket List.” Each participant was asked to write down five challenging things she hoped to do in the future. Our shared answers proved to be a beginning for each of us to get in touch with ways of stepping out into the wildness.

What did you expect? A bleached fence, horizonsketched, where the road ends in sand and wild horses. You should start where you are A bleached fence, horizonsketched, fingers of land, fingers of sea. Start where you are on the blue shore of silence. Fingers of land, fingers of sea. Beach roses kiss the air on the blue shore of silence. Will you live past the end of your myth? Beach roses kiss the air. What did you expect, to live past the end of your myth? The road ends in sand and wild horses.


from the Sew original Family

Front (L-R): Peggy Cerchione, Melinda Rose (owner), Shirley Bailey (owner); Back Row (L-R): Becky Shippy, Debbie Branch, Susan Briggs, Faye Williams, Colleen Murray, Vanessa Clark, Elisabeth Pugh; (Not pictured: Hannah Reeves and Martha Marking)

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Contact Leigh Ann Moody




Your Special Wedding Issue

Emily Jones Powers

leighann.moody@ (828)264-6397 ext.271

It’s All Part of the Plan


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Writes poetry and essays about nature, spirituality, writing, and travel. She has a little cabin in the mountains.




Best Party Guest Ever If your calendar resembles mine, the month of December is filled with work gatherings, holiday parties and commitments to friends and family. The whirlwind of tinsel and tissue paper and of carols and cheese balls makes me wish for a T-shirt stating, “I survived Hurricane December!” The event that I most anticipate each year is my friend, Jill’s, annual holiday party, and for several years, Jill has proclaimed me the “Best Party Guest Ever!” Why am I the Best Party Guest Ever? According to Jill, it is for the following three reasons: 1) I bring a great hostess gift; 2) I bring a solid dish to share; and 3) I boogie down on the dance floor. I agree with all of the above; however, I also thought it was owing to my witty repartee and fabulous attire. Let me pause here for a moment and make the following disclaimer: There can be multiple holders of the above title. Jill probably declares each and every invitee the “Best Party Guest Ever.” Why, you ask? Because, Jill manages to fill her home with only awesome people. Well played, Jill, well played.



As much as you might like to board up your windows and hide with a stockpile of chocolate goods, this is not a viable option. Therefore, as you prepare for December’s flood of ribbons and RSVPs, take my advice and you, too, may find yourself being hailed as the Best Party Guest Ever! Bring a Great Hostess Gift When it comes to hostess gifts, my golden rule is: It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be interesting. And, it needs to be appropriate to the individual. I search for unique or quirky gifts — something tasty from a local bakery or confectionary, something fun for the kitchen or something one-of-a-kind from a local artist. Even gag gifts are fine just so long as the hostess shares your sense of humor. Bring a Solid Dish to Share When it comes to preparing a dish for a potluck, my golden rule is: Make something you want to eat. This is excellent advice for two reasons. The first being that

you are guaranteed to have something you like to eat at the shindig; the second being that if no one else likes it, you get to take it home and eat it again. Roger would want me to add that it should be substantial enough to be his dinner in case everyone else brings nibbly foods or dessert. I steer clear of anything cheese and cracker-like as I know these items will abound, as well as brownies, cookies and candies. Last year, I made a butternut squash lasagna for Jill’s party. I was happy, Roger was happy and judging by the morsels that remained, the other guests were happy. Boogie Down on the Dance Floor When it comes to boogieing down on the dance floor, my golden rule is: Shake your groove thing. Yes, yes, I must give credit for that one to Peaches & Herb, and their song of the same name. I could quote any number of dance song titles with a similar message; the point is to get out there, let loose and have a little fun. It does help that I am not shy and am willing to laugh at myself. I prefer to think that ev-

eryone else is laughing with me, not at me, when I break out my dance moves. You recall that I mentioned my fabulous party attire? As another Hurricane December prepares to make landfall, I have one last parting bit of advice: dress fancy, fancy being defined as something you wouldn’t wear on a daily basis or something special that you have been saving for the right occasion. [Insert upcoming event name] is the right occasion. Another guest at Jill’s party last year, noticing my ensemble, came up to me and asked, “Are you wearing a black sequin pant suit?” I responded in the affirmative, and she despaired that she had wanted to wear something similar, but had changed into something less sparkly at the last minute. “When it comes to dressing for a party,” I told her, “My golden rule is: The sparklier, the better!”

heather brandon Considers life to be one big anthropological field experience. She observes and reports. She enjoys travel, food and wine and adventures with her husband, Roger.

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Photo by Garrett Norris


The Christmas Tree Not Just For Glass Bulbs, Anymore Photo by Garrett Norris

Photo by Sherrie Norris

‘Tis the season once again, when every spare moment is tied up in shopping, decorating, wrapping, stringing lights, baking, parties and family. As many traditions change through the years, so have the “colors of Christmas,” which were once red, white and green. That’s no longer the case. Today, color choices and decorations are as versatile as those on the color wheel — just choose your favorites and go with them. Here in the High Country, we are known for our Christmas tree farms, products of which have made their way to the White House, on more than one occasion, and also to the Biltmore House and many other locations of significance throughout the state and country. Trees, and how you decorate them, have changed so much since I was a child. I can still remember the Christmas for which we had a silver tree with a color wheel and a light on the bottom that changed the entire color of the tree from moment to moment. It lasted for just one year at our house, after which we were back to the real thing. We decided, as has become the custom for many, that going to the tree farm and choosing just the right tree was half the fun. Tree decorating is a perfect way to express one’s own style and flare — and can be as unique as the one doing the decorating. Tired of the traditional bulb? Try using burlap for ribbon and trade in the glass ornaments for crystal, or forget those all together and adorn the limbs with flower blooms, birds or twigs. There is no right or wrong way — just as long as it’s your way. Get the kids involved, and don’t get so caught up in the task that you forget the joy of spending another Christmas with the ones you love. Here’s to a Merry Christmas to you, our faithful readers. May this year end with all of your wishes coming true, and may the hope in your heart be the beginning of your New Year.

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Rolling in the Dough High Country cooks are cranking up again for our annual holiday baking and cooking marathons, which begin around the first of the month for many of us and continue right up until Christmas. We’ve been stockpiling our pantries for several weeks in preparation for those special gatherings and goodie baskets to be delivered to the office, to family members, friends and shut-ins. An acquaintance once told me that the only time she gets to “roll in the dough” is during a baking party she enjoys with friends each December. I do understand. Whether you bake with friends or family, hopefully these recipes will add a sweet touch to your collection.

Italian Cream Cake 1 cup buttermilk 1 tsp. soda 2 cups sugar 1 stick butter ½ cup shortening ½ tsp. salt 5 eggs, separated 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp. vanilla 1 cup chopped pecans 1 small can coconut Frosting: 8 oz. cream cheese 1 box powdered sugar 1 stick butter 1 tsp. vanilla



Combine buttermilk and soda. Cream sugar, butter, shortening and salt. Add egg yolks, one at a time. Add buttermilk/soda, alternating with flour. Stir in vanilla. Fold in beaten egg whites. Stir in pecans and coconut. Bake in three round pans for 25 minutes at 325 degrees or in oblong pan for approximately 40 minutes. Cool before frosting. Frosting: Blend until smooth and creamy. May need to add more sugar for spreading consistency if too thin.

Snowmen 1 pkg. refrigerated sugar cookie dough 1 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar 2 Tbsp. milk Candy corn, gumdrops, chocolate chips, licorice, and other assorted small candies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut dough into 12 equal sections. Divide each section into three balls: large, medium and small for each snowman. For each snowman, place three balls in a row, ¼ inch apart, on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Decorate with candies.

Best Ever Peanut Brittle 1 cup white sugar ½ cup light corn syrup ¼ tsp. salt ¼ cup water 1 cup peanuts 2 Tbsp. butter, softened 1 tsp. baking soda

Grease a large cookie sheet. Set aside. In a heavy 2-qt. saucepan, over medium heat, bring to a boil the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in peanuts. Set candy thermometer in place and continue cooking. Stir frequently until temperature reaches 300 degrees (or until a small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water separates into hard and brittle threads.) Remove from heat; immediately stir in butter or margarine and baking soda; pour at once onto cookie sheet. With two forks, lift and pull peanut mixture into rectangle about 14x12 inches; cool. Snap candy into pieces.

Hard Candy Christmas 3½ cups sugar 1 cup light corn syrup 1 cup water 1 teaspoon red or green food coloring ½ teaspoon cinnamon oil or peppermint oil

In large, heavy saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook on medium-high heat until candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees (or to hard-crack stage), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in food coloring and oil, keeping face away from mixture, as the oil will emit a very strong smell. Immediately pour into a greased cookie sheet. Let cool, then break into pieces. Store in airtight container. (Flavored oils are located in cake decorating and candy supply sections of most stores.)

Chocolate Covered Cherries 1 can sweetened-condensed milk 1 box powdered sugar 1 stick melted margarine 1 jar maraschino cherries, drained

Mix milk, margarine and sugar. Roll into small balls and flatten. Put cherry in center and roll back into ball, covering cherries. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Dip into melted chocolate-paraffin mixture (about 1/3 block of paraffin to 12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate pieces, melted together in double-boiler)

1 small jar of peanut butter 1 box powdered sugar 1 stick melted margarine 1 tsp. vanilla

Peanut Butter Balls Mix together and form into balls. Dip into chocolate-paraffin mixture with toothpick (about 1/3 block of paraffin to 12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate pieces, melted together in double-boiler). Let stand on waxed paper until firm. May add coconut and chopped nuts to peanut butter mixture before dipping.



from the All About Women staff

Photo by Sherrie Norris

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All About Women - December 2013  
All About Women - December 2013  

All about women of the high country.