Thursday, May 17, 2018

5/17/2018 Rain, Street Party Moved, Rain, Cross Brothers Reopens, Rain

 Oh, now I remember what I forgot to bring out last week when I put winter clothes away...rain boots.  Although we don't have it as bad as our New England friends who are just beginning their mud season, it is certainly wet around here.  Our spongy Ashland soil will soaks up all this moisture to ensure that we have lots of humidity as soon as the sun returns.  We are the lucky ones.

And speaking of this soggy weather, the first Ashland Street Party of 2018 has had to move to Saturday, June 2nd, at 6:30 PM.  You can buy tickets online at here, for $10 each before the show, or $20 each at the gate.  Children 12 and under get in free with a paying adult.  There will be food and beverages available at the party, so please just bring a lawn chair if you would like a place to sit.  

We are excited to learn that the grand opening for the newly remodeled and restructured Cross Brothers will be next Saturday, May 26th!  I think we are all anxious to see what things look like in there, and there will be some veggies, right?  Just asking for a friend.  

Registration is now open for the Ashland Barracuda Swim Team!  Practices will start after school on Thursday, May 24th.  Will the pool be filled?  Will the water be cold?  And what about that snack bar? Well, friends, those mysteries are just one part of the excitement.  Sign up your kids, pull out the beach towels, and come find out.  Register at

There is always a cozy corner at your Ashland Library to sit and read a book.  It's a perfect retreat if you wanted to get away from things.  I wouldn't even think to look for you there.  This evening, Thursday, May 17th, there is a fun metal stamping class from 5:00 to 6:00 PM for kids ages 11-18, and this is free like almost everything at the library!  Call 798-4072 for more information.

There are so many opportunities to hear good music within walking distance of your Ashland home:

Ashland Coffee & Tea

England Street Tavern


Enjoy the rain if you can.  From my kitchen, I can imagine that train whistles are really boats, and the clank of a flag pole in the wind is actually rigging.  You know I love you COTU, but I really wish you had a harbor.  Call or email me with your Ashland news: 310-5320,  Have a wonderful weekend!  Go buy a newspaper.  

Thursday, May 10, 2018

5/10/2018 Variety Show Delayed; All Citizens Devastated

Maybe that heading was a little extreme, but it was written after hearing the news that the Ashland Musical Variety Show, which is normally held every odd year, will be postponed until March 2020 due to renovations at Randolph-Macon's Blackwell Auditorium.  While the improvements will be very welcome, it was with shock and disappointment that we read this news.  Even years?  It's like the whole town has been thrown off its axis.  What will we do this winter with no rehearsals, no costume search, and no glitter?  We will have to plan something to keep us occupied, and to support the Arts and Activities Center, as we all struggle to hold on until 2020.

I have been reading a lot of Richmond newspapers from the early part of the 1900s, and a large majority of the news from Ashland focused on baseball games.  So nothing much has changed in one hundred years.

Eyes are watching the Randolph-Macon Baseball team who is currently ranked No. 1 in the Massey Ratings.  The boys of summer will be in Lynchburg this weekend for a double-elimination tournament to determine the ODAC champion, and to see who will be moving on to the NCAA Tournament. As you can see from this 1908 article, R-MC had "invincible battery" even then.

Not to be outdone, the Randolph-Macon softball team who is now ranked 5th in the national Division III poll!  Coach Kevin Proffit and his team are in New Jersey today getting ready to face the College of Staten Island tomorrow, Friday, at 2:30 PM in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

I don't have any Ashland Little League news other than to say that I can hear the sounds of an evening ball game in my back-yard, and it is such a wonderful noise.

CSX is performing track maintenance for a few days this week, which means all the wooden pedestrian board walks have been removed.  Cross carefully!  Do you know what CSX stands for?  They originally wanted to call it "CSM" which stood for Chessie Seaboard Merger, but that was already taken on the stock exchange.  They decided to go with "CSX" and have the X symbolize the train tracks, as any train crossing sign has a large X across it.  Just a little bit of info for the COTU.

We were all lucky to have another summer here, don’t you think?  I know that life in Ashland is not perfect, but I hope that you know it is special.  This column should never comes across as being Pollyanna-ish, or ignorant of the trials of life, but I want to remind you of the small things that we sometimes overlook: the odd sign in front of the dry cleaners, decorated bike gardens, opera singer sightings, and pool towels hung on a porch railing. 

Life in this town is good NOT because of the size of your house, the kind of car you drive, or the clothes that you wear.  Life is good here because we laugh a lot at silly things.  We have an affinity for organizing events, and we love it best when our sidewalks are crowded with people.  We leave things on each other’s front porches, we stand in the middle of the road to talk, and we absolutely love to decorate. 

This is a good town, and we will always be lucky because we found our way here. The summer is really something to look forward to in the Center of the Universe. Call or email me with your Ashland news: 310-5320,

Thursday, May 3, 2018

5/3/2018 The Return of Shade and Flowered Prints, Dr. Kiss to Speak at RMC Graduation, and an Election without Politics

By the time you read this, we may have already descended into summer...that's how fleeting spring can be in the Center of the Universe.  We have a very brief window of opportunity for chilly mornings and sunny afternoons, when we need a sweater if we are sitting in the shade.

One of the best things about spring is that Mr. Hale has brought out his floral ensembles for his bike trips around town.  While his daily bike excursions may be a confusing thing, he surely makes many people smile everyday.

I know that this recent Town Council election wasn't historic or headline news, but it I want to make sure that you know how meaningful it was.  There are very few places where we can experience democracy without the rhetoric of politics, or where we can see candidates debate without attacking one another.  In contrast to national politics, this Ashland election lets us believe that we can govern as neighbors and respected colleagues.  All three candidates have my respect and admiration for the work that they did on our behalf, and I look forward to hearing the opinions of Mr. Hodges and Mr. McGraw in the July Town Council meeting.  Alexander Hamilton would have been proud.

The next Town Council meeting is Tuesday, May 15th, at 7:00 PM.

Congratulations to the Patrick Henry Girls Varsity Soccer team who beat Highland Springs at home this week with a score of 10 to 0!  Their next home game will be tomorrow, Friday, May 4th, at 6:00 PM against Lee-Davis High School.  Cheering for your home town high school is a great way to spend an evening.

Speaking of kids, have you ever thought about hosting an international student in your home? There are students who would love the opportunity to live in the US and study at our local high schools. Families are needed for the 2018-2019 school year and all students are fluent in English.  Contact Welby Fairlie to get more information: 800-263-2936.

Randolph-Macon has announced that Dr. Elizabeth Kiss will be the commencement speaker for their graduation this year on Saturday, June 2nd.  Dr. Kiss was a professor of philosophy on our Ashland campus in 1987, and since has gone on to serve as president of Agnes Scott College in Georgia.  Dr. Kiss has recently been named the chief executive of the Rhodes Scholarship Program at Oxford University in England.

Call or email me with your Ashland news: 310-5320,  I still believe that this town needs a printed newspaper and that there is a market for it, even in this digital age.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

4/26/2018 Little Theaters Everywhere, Spring Cleaning at PH, Summer Plans, and GO VOTE!

There is a great deal of natural talent in the Center of the Universe, and hopefully you are taking every opportunity to see it.

The Patrick Henry Players will debut their spring musical next week: Disney's Beauty and the Beast.  The curtain will rise on Wed., and Thurs., May 2nd and 3rd, at 6:00 PM.  The Friday and Saturday show will start at 7:00.  Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the door.  Spend an evening with some wonderful kids who are so excited to entertain you!  Please call Patrick Henry for more information: (804) 365-8000.

Randolph-Macon College also has some theater for you,too, starting this weekend, "Vanya and Masha and Sonia and Spike" will debut at the Cobb Theater on April 28th and 29th (7:00 PM) and again on May 3rd, 4th, and 5th.  This play is free for all R-MC students and staff, and $5 per ticket for the public.  Please call the box office to reserve your tickets: 752-7316.

Patrick Henry High School is asking for community help on Saturday, May 5th, to clean up and refresh their campus.  The 2nd Annual PHacelift will be from 9:00 AM to noon, and groups are invited to compete for prizes with costumes. You can sign up at

There are some fun events coming up next week for your little ones at the Ashland Library!  On Thursday, May 3rd, from 5:00 to 6:00 PM,  bring your elementary-aged kids to "Ashland Rocks!" where they will paint rocks to leave as treasures in Ashland for others to find.  Refreshments will be provided and registration is requested (so they can have enough rocks): 798-4072.

Then on Saturday, May 5th, stop by the library at 11:00 AM for the Story Lady as she shares her gift of storytelling with your kids.

Your COTU summer is out there waiting for you, and registration is now open for all of it!  Carter Park Pool is accepting memberships for its 2018 season, which we are calling the "Snack Bar Summer."  Get your pool pass Here!

You can do no better for your children than signing them up to swim for the Ashland Barracudas this summer.  Besides teaching them how to swim well, and learning about sportsmanship, they will find joy in being a part of a team that includes kids from 5 years old to 18.  It's how kids in this town get to know kids who aren't the same age or in the same grade.  It is a wonderful thing.  Registration is open at

The Center Players Summer Theater Camp 2018 is open for registrations.  No auditions are required for this wonderful creative opportunity for kids in grades 1 through 5.  Camp will run the week of July 23rd through the 27th, and will exploring the worlds of heroes and villans!  Click here to register.

Lastly, Town Council elections are Tuesday, May 1st!  Come practice democracy at the local level and help select the next leaders for our beloved town.

One of the best things about spring in the COTU is the return of shade.  As the leaves come out and those shadows spread across our lawns, I want to be eight years old again; I want to be bored, and lay in the shade watching ants.  The shade is a peaceful place to be- let’s all go find some this week.  Send me your Ashland news, Little League scores, and ice cream truck sightings.  You can reach me at 310-5320, or 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

4/19/2018 Race the Rail and Save the Earth, Backyard Plant Sale, Mr. Mudd Returns

The forecast is calling for a partly-cloudy Saturday, with high's in the low 60s, so bundle up if you are coming out to run the Ashland Railroad Run this weekend.  If you are a last-minute person, registrations will be taken that morning, although you may not get a t-shirt.  This is a certified 10K race, and very flat, so come record your best time!

The 5K Race and Fun Walk starts at 8:00 AM,  the Kid's 1 Mile Fun Run starts at 8:15 AM, and the 40th annual 10K Railroad Run starts at 9:00 AM.  

The Green Fair returns to the front lawn of the Center with all kinds of ecological vendors and practical demonstrations.  

We have been waiting on spring for a long time now, but those flower beds are calling our names.

The Howard Street Backyard Plant Sale will take place Friday and Saturday, May 4th and 5th, at 203 Howard Street.  

Plant donations will be accepted beginning April 27th, and you can leave those on the front porch with your name on them.  Those who donate (non-invasive, native plants) are eligible to shop the preview sale on the 4th, and to take home the free leftovers after the sale.

New this year, after the sale at 1:00 PM on Saturday, there will be a  short talk by Kristen Saacke Blunk, who serves on the administrative council for Northeast SARE -, and on the Ag Workgroup for the Chesapeake Bay Program, https://www. agriculture_workgroup

You can contact Julie Erickson for more information. 

It seems that we all want to get outside and do some spring cleaning!

The 2nd Annual PHacelift Community Clean-Up will take place on Saturday, May 5th from 9:00 AM to Noon around the outside campus of Patrick Henry High School. Participants only need to bring themselves. However if you have yard supplies such as gloves, rakes, blowers, hedge trimmers, wheel barrows, etc., we welcome these additions.

Prizes will be awarded for the following categories: Largest group represented, Most Spirited PHacelift Crew, & First to PHinish section goals. For more information call 365-8000.

Your Ashland Library continues to offer wonderful programs for the community!  On Wednesday, May 9th, plan to come over after dark (7:00 to 8:00) and look at the stars in the night sky with Trevor McGuire, a member of the Richmond Astronomy Society. Trevor will show us,young and old, how to view the night stars just using our own eyes. This will be a fun night for the whole family to share.  One of my favorite memories as a child was looking at the stars with my dad.

In education news this week, we'd like to send congratulations to Michael Mudd who will return to Hanover County Public Schools this summer as the Director of Elementary Education!  It's great to have him back home, and I know the elementary educators will be excited to have his leadership.  

Also, this fall, the incredible Fred Horn will become the new music teacher at Henry Clay Elementary.  I am so envious of the little people that will get to hear his booming laugh echo those hallways!

Enjoy the spring Ashland; that beautiful green color is just atarting to sweep over the town.  Call or email me with your Ashland news: 310-5320,  Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

04/12/2018 Remember When the Music: Bluemont Concerts End, Elections Approaching, Running and Swimming

Perhaps we will remember 2018 as a year of transitions. 

It was announced last week that the Bluemont Concerts are no more.  Those outdoor summer concerts were one of our soundtracks when our kids were little.  August evenings would find us on the front lawn of the Arts and Activities Center, or at Randolph-Macon, sometimes working a bake sale table to raise money for a PTA, sometimes chasing children who had comfortably scattered through the crowd.  

We will miss the music and the gathering, and we wish the best to the Bluemont staff who worked for years to bring live music to us.  

There are two Ashland Town Council seats open this year and there are three candidates for the vacancies: Les Cook, John Hodges, and Dan McGraw.  All of these would be wonderful citizen representatives, but do your part to learn more about them before Tuesday, May 1st, when the poll will be open at Town Hall.

 Have you registered to race the rails on Saturday, April 21st, at the Hanover Arts and Activities Center?  This will be the 40th year that this race will be held- so lets all come out and show our support for things that last.  If you're not running, come cheer on the runners as they fly past.  There will also be a Green Fair on the front lawn of the Activities Center, with lots of wonderful ecological companies and ways to help keep our planet beautiful.  

There are so many interesting events happening at your Ashland Library that they are hard to list!  Click on the link above to view their events.

Summer passes are on sale now for Carter Park Pool which will have a lovely new snack bar by opening day.  Those who purchase their pool passes on or before April 30th will receive a small discount.  Click here to access the application or apply for a pool pass scholarship.  

And if the pool is open, then it's time for swim team!  Having your child swim for Coach Kevin Trent may be one of the easiest and best parenting decisions that you will ever make.  Not only will they learn a life-long skill, but they will make friends and be a part of a team that includes kindergartners and seniors in high school.  It is one of the best parts about life in the Center of the Universe.  

Visit the Barracudas website for more information and to register.  

This Saturday, April 14th, the Barracuda swim team will be having a ridiculously fun fund-raiser: The Battle of the Brains.  Have you heard of trivia nights where you bring your iPad or smart phone, and answer trivia questions?  It's like you own Jeopardy game!  Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.  Please email Megan Mudd to make reservations.  

Have a beautiful weekend, Ashland.  I think the sun is gonna shine.  Call or email me with your Ashland news: 310-5320,  

Thursday, April 5, 2018

We Will Not Go Quietly into that Good Night

"A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself." 
Author Miller
I had so many other plans for this column this week: the upcoming Railroad Run, Kiddie Kingdom, events at the Library, and signing up for swim team.  I was going to say that I hoped you had a good Easter, and that maybe hoping you were somewhere warm for spring break.  My 500 words, give or take, and my brief moment to spend with you this week.

And then it was all gone.  I had to find out from Style Weekly, none the less.  It was like a tall, pretty girl flipped her blonde hair and said, “Didn’t you know?”  No, I didn’t know, had no idea.  I am stunned.  I am standing on the sidewalk, tapping at a window but the lights are off and the door is locked, stunned.

I don’t understand why Jack Fishman, owner of Lakeway Publishing, wouldn’t have offered it for sale. I know we are in a digital age, but we haven’t erased our need for printed paper.  We still read books, we still need libraries, and we still write with pens on paper.  It makes my eyes ache to think that I will have to figure everything out from a glowing screen now. 

In April of 2007, I saw a classified in the Herald-Progress looking for someone to write the Ashland column and Greg Glassner hired me for $10 per column. I have made lots of typos, misspelled many names, and written wrong dates and times.  I have to work really hard to get the details right, and sometimes I would be in such a rush to meet the deadline.

But in almost 11 years, I only missed a handful of weeks.  You were my readers, and I was kind of protective of my time with you.  I wanted to show you the parts of Ashland that you might have missed.  I wanted to try and get you to stop, to look around at the wonder of this place.  And that was kind of hard for me sometimes. 

There have been many days when I was jealous of the people on the trains who passed by my stopped car.  I would wonder about where they were going, as I held a crumpled grocery list in my hand.  You always pulled me back, though.  There was always a Variety Show to rehearse for, or a PTA fundraiser, or an event at the Center.  Something as simple as an evening sitting at the Ironhorse could tame my wanderlust. 

There is still so much to be written about this town and the people here, and I am not done.

Which leads me to say that old habits die hard, and an eleven year-old habit is pretty old.  Please call or email me with your Ashland news because I would rather not stop writing about this little spot in the universe: 310-5320, Have a wonderful week!

5/17/2018 Rain, Street Party Moved, Rain, Cross Brothers Reopens, Rain

  Oh, now I remember what I forgot to bring out last week when I put winter clothes away...rain boots.  Although we don't have it...