Saturday, September 29, 2007

9/28/07 Nature Preserve, Things to do outdoors

I am thinking of putting up a sign that says “Nature Preserve” in front of my garden, and maybe then I won’t feel so guilty about neglecting it these days. It is nothing but weeds now, with maybe a few peppers somewhere underneath. The beautiful weather we’ve been having has let everyone enjoy being outside again after evading the late-summer humidity by hiding inside our air-conditioned homes. If only it would rain a little, then I’d be completely satisfied and content.

If you see Ross Luck this week, you must stop him and give your condolences- he turns 40 on October 4th. Bob Hope said, “You know you’re getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.”

On Wednesday, October 17th, come out for the Free Clinic Challenge at Hunting Hawk Golf Course to benefit the St. James the Less Free Clinic in Ashland. Entry fees are $80 per player, which covers all green fees, carts, and use of driving range. This event is limited to 20 players, so sign up as soon as possible. Call Lee Chambers (798-6647) or Ragan Philips (798-9721) to register. Hawk Hill Associates of Ashland will match all money collected. If I played golf, I would think that there is hardly a better time of year to be on the fairway than in October under those spectacular autumn skies.

Do you already know what you’re going to be for Halloween? Come join the party at the Hanover Arts and Activities Center on Wednesday, October 31st, for their annual Halloween Party featuring the spooky sounds of the Hanover Concert Band. There will be tricks, treats, and prizes for the best costumes. Watch this column for more details, as we get closer to the date.

Tickets are on sale now for the December 6th Kiwanis Annual Fundraiser on the beautiful farm of A.D. Whitaker just outside of town. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for kids under 11, and free for kids 6 and under. There will be some delectable BBQ, plus music and drinks. The Kiwanis are famous for their generous spirit and their commitment to the children of this town. Most of our children play on a playground everyday that was built by the Kiwanis. You can contact John Longmire at 798-4348 for tickets or any other Kiwanis member.

The guided walking tours of Ashland are back, and begin every Saturday in October at 11 am at the Visitor’s Center. If you’re new to town, this is a great lesson on some of the wonderful historic homes that we have here. Call the Visitor’s Center at 752-6766 for more information.
The Randolph-Macon football team is off to a great season! Come cheer on the Yellow Jackets as they play Washington and Lee this Saturday at 1 pm here at home. There are always some fun activities to keep the little kids busy so the parents can enjoy the game.

Happy birthday to gardener extraordinaire Marie Meccia on October 5th! Her caring and generous spirit is reflected in her many family and friends.

Make it a Saturday routine to visit your local Ashland Farmer’s Market. Opening at 9am, there are lots of wonderful fall crops available, and some really exceptional cut flowers. At only $7 a bundle, these flowers will last more than a week and add some charm to your kitchen table. I am sure it’s because they are so fresh and don’t have to travel very far. We’ve been fortunate to find some fresh butter beans, peppers, squash, and pumpkins.

If you have any Ashland news that you want to see here in this column, please give me a call or email. I would have nothing to write about if it wasn’t for the people of this town. Stories about gardens and October skies will only go so far. Tel: 310-5320, email: ashlandnews@gmail.com

9/21/07 Perfect Hometown Saturday Night

Every once in a while you stop, look around, and just know that you’re in the right place; you are where you were meant to be. And while some of you may grow tired of my “Ashland is the best town ever” soapbox, I can’t help but say it again. I had one of those great days this past Saturday. The Henry Clay and Gandy Tiger Trot 5K Run was a perfect example of hard work paying off. The autumn weather (over-cast and cool) combined with smiling and laughing volunteers gave the whole event an air of joyful childhood. Those fortunate enough to have participated got to see the kind of grass roots organizing that happens almost daily around here. The PTAs were in need of funds and everyone was tired of buying wrapping paper and cookie dough. Two working moms stepped forward and decided to do things differently. If you see Susan or Tracy around town, please thank them for working so hard for our schools.

Saturday night was fantastic in downtown Ashland. Music was everywhere-from the Coffee & Tea to the last Street Party- it was hard to find a quiet spot. It’s hard not to love a town when you see everyone dancing and socializing together. I heard that Bill Bevins had been urging his listeners to come to Ashland that evening and they certainly must have listened, because the dance floor was packed. Ron Moody was great, as usual, and gave us one familiar song after another. The Plaza outside the Ashland Library is stunning and I am impressed with all the work that has been done in the last month. Our own Kugel, with the Center of the Universe so clearly marked, spun and splashed with children who couldn’t help running their wet fingers over the smooth marble. Jay & Nina’s statues will be such a touching addition.

What a great time of year to celebrate a birthday! Davis Luck will be four tomorrow, September 22nd. I’m sure that Ross and Connie are supplying lots of fun presents and a beautiful cake.

There’s a great opportunity to help raise money for a good cause tomorrow: the Slay The Dragon 5K will begin at 9am at Carter Park and will follow a beautiful course through town. All money raised will go to the National Leiomyosarcoma Foundation, which supports research to find a cure for a rare, but vicious cancer. Go to www.slaythedragon5k.com for more information.

Sunday, Sept. 23rd, VA Senator Frank Wagner (R, Virginia Beach) will give a lecture in Duncan Memorial Church Social Hall at 7 pm on “Development and Use of Renewable Energy”. Representatives from the Wilton Corp. will be in attendance to show plans for the eco-friendly development of East Ashland- oops that was a typo!

Mark October 6th on your calendar for the Lt. George Hansen Pumpkin Run to honor the memory of Lt. George Hansen and to raise money for Hanover Safe Place, which provides a safe haven to victims of domestic abuse. The 5K begins at 9am at the Ashland Berry Farm. Register at www.hanoversafeplace.com, and click on “events”. The day will conclude with a concert at Pufferbelly Park at 4pm with fun for families and games for kids.

You couldn’t make a movie that would tell people what life is like here in our little town. They wouldn’t believe you and would say that it sounded like a cliché. I am always torn between wanting to tell everyone about this place that we now call home, and wanting to keep it all a secret. I want to hold Ashland in my heart like a child’s treasure- a dream that someone may wake me from before I am done with the story. Life is not perfect here, and there is pain and heartache, but I can’t think of any good reason to ever leave. What a town. Please have a wonderful weekend and enjoy this beautiful weather! Get in touch and let me know your Ashland news- my email is ashlandnews@gmail.com and my phone is 804-310-5320.

9/14/07 Things to Keep You Busy on a Saturday...

I used to try and sleep late on Saturdays, but lately there is so much going on, that I have to get up and get out the door early. I have to get to the Farmer’s Market by 9am before the crowds come to pick up some farm eggs or fresh cut flowers. I then have to head straight over to the Caboose because Ian will sell out of that wonderful bread within 15 minutes of opening his door at 10 am. Once I’m there on Center Street, then I’ve got everything else that I could possibly need within a block: the Library, Cross Brothers, Williams Bakery, Coffee and Tea, Southern States, Bell, Book, and Candle, and the Feed Store. By the time I get home, I’m worn out and it’s time for lunch.

Get to bed early tonight (Friday) because tomorrow is a big day in town!

Volunteers are needed to help out at the Henry Clay & Gandy 5K Tiger Trot. If you don’t plan on running or walking in the race, head over to Henry Clay around 7:30 am and lend a hand. Find Rosemargaret Maier, Susan Spence, or Tracey Brown and tell them that you’re there to help. Just cheering on the runners would be a great thing to do. When the runners have a good time at a race, they’ll spread the word and return next year. All the proceeds from this event are going to the Henry Clay and Gandy PTA’s who work to support the children and teachers in our fine public schools.

When you get home from the Tiger Trot, you’ll need to spend some time picking out your clothes for the last Street Party of the summer. Iron that party dress and shine those dancing shoes, and get ready to cut a rug to Ron Moody and the Centaurs behind the Ashland Library beginning at 6pm. Come and see how our Plaza is coming along- it will be such a wonderful spot next summer. Food will be provided by the Smokey Pig and Sullivan’s Irish Pub. Tickets are $5 in advance and can be purchased at Cross Brothers Market, Ace Hardware, Hometown Realty. Tickets are $10 at the door, and kids under 12 are free with a paying adult. For more information call 798-8130.

The Ashland Town Council has deferred a decision on the Wilton Company’s development of the Mt. Hermon Road area until their meeting on Tuesday, September 18th at 7 pm. If you have any concerns about this development and what the impact would be on our sweet town, then I strongly urge you to get in touch with our town council members. You can find the town council’s telephone numbers and email addresses on the Town of Ashland website: www.town.ashland.va.us.

Now that Randolph-Macon is back in session, we’re the lucky benefactors of their great cultural programs and performances. The Flippo Gallery in Pace-Armistead Hall will be having a public opening reception on Sunday, September 16th from 3 to 5 pm to debut their newest exhibit called “Everything but the Kitchen Sink”. This will be a display of works of women artists from Virginia, New York, New Mexico, and California. Pace-Armistead Hall is by the railroad track, on the north end of the Historic Campus. Call 752-7200 for more details and better directions.

On Tuesday, September 18th at 6pm, there will be a musical performance by “Solazo” in the Randolph Macon Campus Center Lobby. This is an interesting group from South America who combine Latin folk, contemporary dance music, and soulful ballads. Call 752-3712 for more information.

Story times are back at the Ashland Library! Mother Goose Story Time (6 to 24 months with an adult)is on Mondays at 10 am. Toddler Story Time (2 years old with an adult) are Mondays at 10:45 am and Tuesdays at 10 am. Preschool Story Time (3 to 5 years old) is Mondays at 11:15 am, and Tuesdays at 10:30. Call 798-4072 for more information.
And last, but certainly never least, many happy birthday wishes to our super-star, Daphne Read Gilmore, who turned 7 on September 14th.

Have a wonderful weekend and keep your fingers crossed for some rain- but after the Street Party Saturday night! I hope we don’t have to wait for the State Fair to finally get some precipitation. Call or email me with you Ashland news: 310-5320 or ashlandnews@gmail.com.

9/7/07 Back to School, Library Activities, Tiger Trot, Last Street Party

This being the first week of school, I’d like to talk a little bit about what we can do to help our public schools. I firmly believe that a community is only as good as it’s schools. I’d like to encourage all of you to do something this school year for our local Ashland schools. Even if you don’t have children, or if your children are all grown, these schools should still be important to you. They are educating the future doctors and nurses who will take care of you in your old age. They are influencing the kids who will become the mayors, supervisors, delegates, and senators who will decide what Ashland looks like in twenty or thirty years. There is always a need for your help. Consider becoming a “Book Buddy” and helping a child who is struggling with reading. Call the front offices and ask them how you can help. I guarantee that they’ll be glad to hear from you.

The Ashland Farmer’s Market has become a crowded place these days. I’d advise getting there bright and early when they open at 9am. We got there late, around 11:30 this past Saturday, and most vendors had sold almost everything they brought. We did find some late season tomatoes, squash, cut flowers, hot peppers, and lots of great dogs.

This is a really busy week if you’re a librarian at the Ashland Library…..

On Tuesday, September 11, come hear a presentation on Conservation Easements at the Ashland Library from 7 to 9pm. This lecture is sponsored by Hanover Naturally: a citizen group which believes that ecologically significant and diverse natural areas are essential to healthy communities; that without protection these areas will disappear as Hanover's population grows; that public lands made available for quiet contemplation, nondestructive activities and education can become powerful community resources. For more information on this important group, contact: Nancy Pecsok, 804-798-1197, or e-mail hanover_naturally@earthlink.net.
Come back to the Ashland Library on Thursday, September 13 and hear Jennifer Smith talk about the benefits of yoga and demonstrate a few exercises. This lecture, “The Basics of Yoga”, will be followed by a brief video presentation and refreshments from the Friends of the Ashland Library.
Then on Friday, September 14, send your teenager over at 6pm for Movie and Pizza Night at the Ashland Library. Don’t forget to tell those librarian’s how much you appreciate them.

The Ashland Town Council unanimously deferred any action on East Ashland until its Sept. 18 meeting. This is a perfect time to communicate your thoughts on this development to the council members. You can find out how to contact them on the town’s web site: www.town.ashland.va.us

There are two big events happening on Saturday, September 15th here in Ashland. The Henry Clay and John Gandy Elementary Schools' PTA's 1st Annual Tiger Trot 5K race will begin at 9:00 am at Henry Clay. The entry fee is $20 with the first 100 registrants receiving t-shirts. There are two races for the kids to choose from: The Half-Mile Run will begin at 8:00 am, and the One Mile Run will begin at 8:15am. The entry fee for the kids is $10. I’ve heard that there will be lots of fun door prizes and fun things to do. Pick up your entry forms at Fin & Feather, Henry Clay, John M. Gandy Elementary, or the Ashland Library. All proceeds will go to the two PTA’s: Henry Clay and John M. Gandy. For more information please contact Susan Spence at804-537-5257, or Tracy Brown at 804-752-7762.

Come dance to the music of Ron Moody and the Centaurs, Saturday Sept. 15th from 6 to 11pm behind the Ashland Library at the last Street Party of the season. Food will be provided by The Smokey Pig and Sullivan’s Pub (winner of the 2007 Best BBQ in the Universe Contest). There will be lots of children’s activities, as if giggling and dancing around weren’t fun enough. Tickets are $5 in advance, $10 at the gate. Children under 12 are free with a paying adult. Funds raised will benefit the Plaza Project, which is close to completion.
While I like the kids returning to school, the last day of summer vacation is always bittersweet. We try and pack in several trips and some time at the pool to end it on a good note. One year our middle child broke her arm that evening before school started, so perhaps we were trying to do too much, but how can you blame us? Summer is so special, and so elusive- we’re always trying to find that perfect summer that we remember from our childhood. As adults, it’s never quite the same. The responsibilities of life wear on us and in the evenings, we’re washing dishes instead of catching lightening bugs. I hope you all had a good summer, and that you made many good memories to laugh about. I hope that your biggest calamity was either getting bitten by a mosquito or stung by a jelly fish.

Drive safely this week and give the school buses plenty of room. Call or email me with your Ashland news. My phone is 310-5320, and my email is ashlandnews@gmail.com. Have a great week!