Monday, December 28, 2009

12/24/09 Merry Christmas


Wow. I used to think Ashland was pretty just on an ordinary day, but toss almost two feet of snow on our sweet town and you have a winter wonderland of epic proportions! Did you see those Christmas lights sparkle in the snow? Have you seen those bundled children bouncing through the drifts? I don't think I ever fully appreciated Christmas carols- they take on such a deeper meaning when you listen to them while watching the snow fall. It was perfect, this snow before Chrstmas. Thank you to whoever ordered this!

I am so sad that we've lost another important Ashlander. Nancy Witt left us this past week, and our creativity quotient immediately plummeted. I never met Nancy, but her painting fascinated me, and I could stare at them for hours. My condolences to her children and friends; I know you will all miss her dearly.

Having old movies at the new Firehouse Theater has added to our storybook atmosphere. If you lived in town, you could have walked to the movies this past Saturday night! Can you imagine that? Walking down a snowy street to see an old movie? Quick, someone pinch me. Call the Theater for details on their next show: 798-9721.

While you're baking cookies this holiday, make a few extra to drop by at the firehouse, the police station, or the rescue squad. The men and women have been working extra hard in all this snow, and it's wonderful to send them a thank-you.

One little example of how our police officer give back to the community is the "Shop with a Cop" program. On Thursday, December 10, 2009 the Ashland Police Department hosted a holiday party for local children at the Ashland Church of God. With many donations and support from local businesses and citizens, Santa Claus was able to distribute many gifts to the participants at this year’s party. Several local businesses donated pizzas and drinks as well for the event. Community volunteers wrapped these gifts and helped hand them out during this year’s party.The Ashland Police Department extends our sincere gratitude to the local donors and volunteers for their generous donations and hard work in making this year’s event so special for the children in our community.

As we wind down 2009, lets reflect a little bit. Was it a good year? A tough one? A little of both? We'll talk more about it next week, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on the passing year. You can email me at ashlandnews@gmail.com, or call me at 310-5320. Are you glad that you're here? You may get tired of me telling you, but you will find no sweeter spot on earth than this town. Go outside on a quiet winter night, find a star to wish on, and ask that you never have to leave. "...Through the years we all will be together if the fates allow, hang a shining star upon the highest bough, and have yourself a merry little Christmas now..."

12/17/09 Raindrops, Gandy Art Auction, Charlotte's Trip to Disney


"I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas, just like the ones I never knew. Where the tree branches drip and children slip on sidewalks wet with dew. I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas, with every umbrella that I see! May your days be merry and yet, may all your Christmases be wet!" My cousin, Emily Kelly, and I wrote that song during another soggy holiday- maybe 1982. Enough already. Let us dry out!

The Gandy Art Auction to benefit the Gandy Garden Project was a stunning success! You know I've told you that we're lucky to have people like Lorie Foley and Wendy Doyle living here- people that give hundereds of hours of their time to make this town a better place for our kids. It's really incredible. We're so excited about these Gandy Gardens, and this auction was the first step in making it happen. There are many, many people to thank, including Ashland Street Parties who made a significant contribution. I'll remind you about that when the summer rolls around!

A huge thank you to the teachers and staff at Gandy who stayed late and helped make the Auction an really fun evening for the kids and their families. Thank you to Marlynn Turner, formerly of Virginia Street, who traveled back from Atlanta to be our wonderful auctioneer. Thank you also to anyone who donated auction items- we had some incredible things at our silent auction, including a holiday flower arrangement by Nancy Hugo, original Raku pottery by Nancy Cozart, photography by John Cook, and some sweet kiddie chairs painted by Sunnygirl Elizabeth Melson. Bravo Gandy! Well done!

If you're struggling to find that special Ashland gift, remember that there are new pewter ornaments of the Arts and Activity Center available! These are incredibly detailed and the perfect addition to your tree for only $15. Call Faith at 798-2728 if you'd like one!

When you see Susan Spence on the 19th, please wish her a very happy birthday! These December babies have a hard time, so the deserve our special attention, that includes John Hodges who celebrated his birthday on December 10th."Merry Christmas" to the Ashland community from Ashland Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)! On Sunday, Dec. 20, you are invited to join us for a "Festival of Lessons and Carols” at 7 pm at 301 S. James Street (across from Henry Clay School). This service is adapted from a Christmas Eve service which has been held annually for 90 years at King’s College in Cambridge, England. Accompanying our Chancel and Bell Choirs will be guest musicians with trumpets, timpani, flute, and harp. A reception will follow. Admission is free.

Congratulations to Tana Garcia, Monica Klisz, and Laura Boone who ran in the cold, cold rain in the Blue and Grey Half Marathon in Fredericksburg this past weekend. This was Tana's first 13.1 miles, so it was a really special day for her!

Our little Charlotte Reynolds has returned home from her fabulous Disney Make-A-Wish vacation! We have loved seeing the pictures and the smiles on everyone's faces, and we are so thankful that they got the chance to have that happy time together. You can keep updated on how this princess is doing through their blog: http://www.cjstuf.blogspot.com/. Hers is not an easy story to read, but it is important and beautiful, and it will do you good.

It is so wonderful to have movies once again in our sweet town! Our new Firehouse Theater is showing classis movies on a regular basis now, and all reports have been glowing! This Friday, 12/19, they'll show "The Shop Around the Corner" starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan starting at 7pm. Then on Tuesday, 12/22, they're showing a Christmas Double Feature beginning at 6pm: "The Grinch", followed by "A Christmas Story." Visit their website: http://www.ashlandfirehousetheater.org/ for a listing of all the holiday movies coming up.

Here- I will give you the advice that I can't follow myself: Don't worry- it will all get done. My father tells me all the time, "You have enough time." When I was younger, I'd just roll my eyes and walk away. The last time he said this to me, I said, "Daddy, I've been thinking about this for a while, and I've come to realize that you're just plain wrong." There will never be enough days in the year to love Ashland like we should. Work on that this week, ok?

Call or email me with your Ashland news: 310-5320, or ashlandnews@gmail.com. Stay dry and keep sparkling COTU!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

12/10/09 Snow in December, Music at St. Ann's, Art at Gandy


I think it kind of counts as a white Christmas if we have snow during the month of December. What do you think, hmm? Is that a stretch? We were all in the Arts and Activities Center when the rain turned to snow this past Saturday, and everyone started clapping.

The rain dampened our Ashland Holiday Weekend, but we celebrated anyway. We made recycled ornaments at the Center, listened to stories at the Library, took a ride around town on the trolly, and told Santa our wishes at the Inn. I only see bigger and better things for next year, and I love how different organizations came together to make it happen. Jill Grant, president of Main Street Association, was the energy behind most of it and we all owe her a big "Thank You!"

Here's a great event no matter how old you are... Baby Boomers Remember Ashland on Wednesday, December 16th at 7pm. Local Baby Boomers will share their memories of growing up in the Center of the Universe. Refreshments will be served.

The best things in life are free, and here's an opportunity to hear the amazing Richmond Brass and Percussion Consort perform A Concert of Christmas Music at St. Ann's Catholic Church. This coming Tuesday, December 15th at 7:30 pm, bring a donation of canned foods for the Central Virginia Food Bank and let those french horns get you in the holiday spirit.

The Ashland Farmer's Market is open this weekend with a special Children's Market and Holiday Craft Vendors. Find all your Christmas presents in the parking lot of Town Hall! Ben Shirley of Richmond will entertain shoppers with his fabulous guitar and banjo classics. The Market is open from 9am until noon on Saturday.

Happy Birthday to Rebecca Cline who celebrated her birthday on December 7th!

If you are reading this on Thursday, then plan on being at Gandy tonight for the Gandy Art Auction from 6-8pm. The students and teachers at Gandy have been busy creating beautiful and whimsical pieces of art for many weeks now, and you will be amazed at the things they are making! This will be an excellent opportunity to find one-of-a-kind Christmas presents, and support your local public schools at the same time. All proceeds from the auction will be used for the Gandy Garden Project, building gardens to cultivate learning, imaginations, and creativity.We're keeping it short and sweet this week, Ashland. The tree needs decorating and the cookies in the oven might be burning if someone doesn't check on them soon! Who needs sleep? Call or email me with your Ashland news: 310-5320, ashlandnews@gmail.com. Ho, ho, ho!

Friday, December 4, 2009

12/3/09 It's Beginning to look a lot like Chirstmas...


Did you appreciate Thanksgiving? Did you take full advantage of the food, the family, and the friends? I hope so. My Thanksgiving was different this year without my grandmother. But that's what holidays do- they evolve through the years as people grow up and move along with their lives. Kids get married and move away, grandparents die, and new traditions emerge. It's one of those lovely (said while rolling my eyes) lessons that life feels the need to teach us: don't become complacent.

Congratulations to Corporal Marie Kemp and Corporal Ethan Hicks, the two Ashland Police Officers who were promoted to the rank of Sergeant on November 25th! We really have a wonderful police department here in town, don't we? I always fall asleep feeling safe and sound knowing they're looking out for us.

Mark your calendar for the Gandy Art Auction to be held on December 10th from 6-8pm at John M. Gandy Elementary. The students and teachers at Gandy have been busy creating beautiful and whimsical pieces of art for many weeks now, and you will be amazed at the things they are making! This will be an excellent opportunity to find one-of-a-kind Christmas presents, and support your local public schools at the same time. There will be a pizza dinner followed by a silent auction and a live auction. Dinner is $4 per person and reservations may be made by emailing me (ashlandnews@gmail.com) by December 7th. All proceeds from the auction will be used for the Gandy Garden Project, building gardens to cultivate learning, imaginations, and creativity.

You must be in town this weekend: December 5th and 6th. The Ashland Holiday Weekend is shaping up to be a wonderful time for all. There will be pictures with Santa at the Henry Clay Inn, a Ginger-Bread House Contest, a trolley taking riders all around town, a Santa's Secret Workshop for kids at the Arts and Activities Center (remember Miller & Rhodes Fawn Shop?), Magician Jonathan Austin, and a Tree-Lighting Ceremony on the Town Hall Lawn. This is just a little bit of all the activities. Visit http://www.hanoverarts.org/ for more information.

It's not too late to enter the Gingerbread House Contest! Bring your house to the Arts and Activities Center this Saturday morning by 10am. Call 798-2728 with any questions. Let your imagination run wild!

Apparently Santa loves to eat breakfast in Ashland, because you will find him eating somewhere around here for the next two Saturdays...

On Saturday, December 5th, Lower Ashland welcomes St. Nick with a Snowflake Breakfast at Elmont Elementary School from 8 to 11am. No tickets will be sold at the door, so the only way you're getting a seat is to call Corinne Luck at 752-2308. I've heard that Ross is the head pancake chef, so you know they must be good!

On Saturday, December 12th, the Man with the Bag will be eating at the Masonic Lodge on England Street from 9 to 11am. Pancakes, Sausgage and Eggs can be had for just $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children. Bring your camera to get a picture with Santa Claus.

When you read this, Roger, Rachel and Charlotte Reynolds will be getting the royal treatment in Disney World right now courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A limo picked them up at their home in Slash Cottage on December 1st and delivered them to the airport. How wonderful for them to be pampered! I have never really appreciated the Make-A-Wish Foundation until now, and will put them on the top of my charity list this year. There are lots of ways that you can support this organization; visit http://www.makeawish.org/ for more information.





The 5th Annual Deck the Halls Event is this Sunday, December 6th from noon to 4:30pm at Pine Grove Farm just off Elmont Road here in town. Carolyn and Jerry Peart have once again opened their yard & barn, and filled it with everything you'd need to make as many wreaths, center pieces, and decorative holiday greenery as you can carry. Call right away for reservations: 798-9131. Susan Greenbaum will be performing, and refreshments will be served. $25 for adults, $10 for youth 6-16, and free for kids under 6.

Here's a great event no matter how old you are... Baby Boomers Remember Ashland on Wednesday, December 16th at 7pm. Local Baby Boomers will share their memories of growing up in the Center of the Universe. Refreshments will be served.

We have absolutely no time to lose, do you hear me Ashland? Get those lights lit, and wreaths hung! We cannot waste a moment here during this holiday season. I want you to do something special everyday. It doesn't have to be a big thing, it can be small like calling your sister and saying hello. Make some cookies this evening to give away. Put on a Santa hat while you rake leaves this weekend. Sleep with your pajamas on inside-out so we can have some snow. Shine Ashland, sparkle and shine. You do it better than any town I know.

Call or email me with your Ashland news: 310-5320, ashlandnews@gmail.com. Have a great week!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

11/19/09 Thanksgiving Preparations, COTU Marathoners, Gandy Art Auction, Ashland Holiday Weekend


With Halloween behind us now, the pumpkins gone, and the decorations blown by the wind, we are warmed by the thought of Thanksgiving. I love that Thanksgiving is a holiday for everyone, regardless of religion. I love that Thanksgiving is about family, friends, good food, and a warm table. No gifts to buy, only food to cook. It's rather low-key and relaxed, if you think about it.

Happy Birthday to Kitty Banks on November 22! We hope that she has a delicious cake to eat and many wonderful presents to open!

Congratulations to all the Ashlanders who ran in the Richmond Marathon this past weekend, including Dave Klisz, Susan Spence, JoAnn Hunter, and Tammy Proffitt! If you want to be inspired, if you need to be reminded of the strength & the power of the human spirit- go watch a marathon. Go stand by the finish line and watch the runners come in after running for several hours, and after months of training. You will see that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary feats, and really, nothing is beyond your grasp if you work at it.



A special congratulations to those who ran the Half Marathon as well! Rodney Bardwell, Mary Clay Thomas, Corinne Luck, and Tracy & Bob Brown all showed grace and speed on the course through the Northside. We hear that the hills in Bryan Park were especially enjoyable!

Here, I'm going to teach you a new word: "brax." It is a noun, plural, meaning congratulations- but it is shorter and easier to spell. I learned it while living in Baltimore, and now I'll use it in a sentence...

Brax to all the spectators and coaches who cheered on the marathon runners! I saw your signs, heard your cheers, and know how you drove (or walked) all over Richmond to see your runners! You know that you helped make those 26.2 miles not seem so long. Your enthusiasm made a big difference.



The Central Virginia Masterworks Chorale will present four performances of its 2009 Holiday Concert, one on December 11, and again on December 12th, at 7:30 pm, at Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church. The third performance will be Sunday, December 13, 4:00 pm, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 520 N. Boulevard, in Richmond. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students. They may be purchased in advance at Cross Brothers’ Grocery in Ashland or from any Chorale member, and may also be purchased at the door prior to each performance. To reserve tickets, call 804-798-3283. Visit http://www.cvamc.org/ for more information.

Mark your calendar for the Gandy Art Auction to be held on December 10th from 6-8pm at John M. Gandy Elementary. The students and teachers at Gandy have been busy creating beautiful and whimsical pieces of art for many weeks now, and you will be amazed at the things they are making! This will be an excellent opportunity to find one-of-a-kind Christmas presents, and support your local public schools at the same time. There will be a pizza dinner followed by a silent auction and a live auction. Dinner is $4 per person and reservations may be made by emailing me (ashlandnews@gmail.com) by December 7th. All proceeds from the auction will be used for the Gandy Garden Project, building gardens to cultivate learning, imaginations, and creativity.

Also, plan to be in town on December 5th and 6th. The Ashland Holiday Weekend is shaping up to be a wonderful time for all. There will be pictures with Santa at the Henry Clay Inn, a Ginger-Bread House Contest, a trolley taking riders all around town, a Santa's Secret Workshop for kids at the Arts and Activities Center (remember Miller & Rhodes Fawn Shop?), Magician Jonathan Austin, and a Tree-Lighting Ceremony on the Town Hall Lawn. This is just a little bit of all the activities. Visit http://www.hanoverarts.org/ for more information.

So, let's get ready for the holidays, Ashland. You don't need a ton of money, of piles of presents. The real gift is what we have here: good neighbors, good friends, and warm hearts. The COTU economic forecast predicts wonderful days ahead.

Call or email me with you Ashland news: 310-5320, or ashlandnews@gmail.com. Be happy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

11/5/09 Best Halloween Ever

I think I just had the best Halloween ever. We were home and in bed by 11- the kids were fine, safe, and full of chocolate. We all laughed tonight, screamed tonight, and ran down the damp sidewalks. This is what makes life in Ashland almost unbearable and close to inexplicable.
A friend said, as we walked down Center Street with our kids, “Look , we’re on a movie lot.” The wet leaves stuck to the sidewalk, a big moon glided in and out of the clouds, and streams of little ghosts and goblins made their way down the front walks of the Victorian houses on either side of the railroad tracks.


We struggled with flashlights swung from the arms of 3-yr olds as they constantly shined in our faces. We tried to activate glow sticks so that we could recognize our kids from far away, and found that biting them often doesn’t work. We now know that if a glow stick breaks in your mouth, it will take like insecticide and your tongue will not even glow which would have been cool and almost worth the temporary numbness and tingling.


We delighted in clever children’s costumes, and ridiculous adult outfits. Anyone who saw a 10 foot gorilla walking down the street in a Santa costume must have both squealed with laughter and shivered with the disturbing unease of the sight. Indeed, Halloween at its best.


This Saturday make your way down to LA (Lower Ashland) for the Elmont Elementary Fall Festival from 11:00 to 3:00 pm. There will be games for the kids, craft vendors, a bake sale, silent auction, and lots of things to eat for lunch. Items up for bidding include 4 round trip Amtrak tickets to Philadelphia, a Jessica Robertson photo session, Panera bagels for a year, and Theatre IV tickets.


A very happy birthday to Susan Chambers who will be having a big party on November 7th! Susan is such a valuable resource in our town; she gives herself and her time to so many people.


The 7th Annual Train Day is November 14th, from 10am to 4pm, which promises to be a beautiful, bright sunny day. There will be model train displays at the Library and the Arts and Activities Center (hereafter referred to as “the Center”), music, food, kids activities- all along our beloved railroad tracks. Don’t we have a fickle relationship with those tracks? We grumble when they make us late, or block the road to our house, or slowly pass throw town loaded with garbage. We also worry that not enough trains will come through, and we miss those whistles when we travel away from home.


The Ashland Library will host an afternoon of tennis and bowling for adults and seniors on Thursday, November 12th beginning at 1:30 pm. Come play these fun Wii games- even boxing! This afternoon event is sponsored by the Friends of the Ashland Library.


The next evening, 11/13, is Teen Movie Night beginning at 6pm with pizza! Call the library and tell them that you’re coming- 798-4072.


I heard that Bart’s new restaurant is open on the tracks! Stop by and visit his restaurant- it’s such a good feeling to see entrepreneurs alive and well in the COTU.


Now, when I said that life in Ashland is “almost unbearable” I hope you didn’t take it the wrong way. It is just so incredibly precious sometimes, and I have these moments when I have to stop and take it all in. I’d like to scoop the moment up in my hands and put it in a jar, to save- to open on a rainy day when all I want to do is run away. I would open my Halloween jar, and hear a child’s voice singing our town song as she swung her bag of candy and skipped down the sidewalk. No one told her to sing it; no one suggested it to her. She was absolutely content. And that alone will be enough reason to never leave.


Call or email me with your Ashland news: 310-5320, ashlandnews@gmail.com. Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

10/15/09 Indian Summer, Ashland Kids, Pedro's Boys, Good Eats


Ahh, that wonderful Mid-Atlantic weather: never happy, never content, and constantly changing. Just when you think you know how to dress in the morning, the temperature falls and we’re searching for hats and gloves. I even heard rumors of snow last week- wicked, wicked rumors. Can we go back to those 70 degree days for a little bit? I want a few more chances to sleep with the windows open.

Here’s a funny thing to observe at the Ashland Library. Stand in the children’s area and wait for a train to come by. You’ll see one group of kids yell “Train!” and race to the windows, and then there’s another group of kids who don’t even look up from their puzzles. Which kids are the Ashland kids?

Friday, October 23rd is Teen Game Night at the Ashland Library. Send your middle-schooler over at 6pm for an evening of Wii Games, Guitar Hero, and board games with their friends. Snacks served by the Friends of the Ashland Library.



Bring your kids in their Halloween costumes down to the Randolph-Macon Brock Center this Saturday for the Annual Fall Festival from 2 to 4 pm. This is a perfect example of how RMC gives back to our community. Come enjoy food, games, prizes, and a moon bounce with the students!



Well done, Pedro’s Boys- a 19-0 wipe-out against Emory and Henry. Can you smell that Hampton-Sydney game? I just can’t wait for November 14th!
Please mark your calendars to attend the Ashland Town Center grand opening event this Friday, October 23rd at 1pm. This is the largest redevelopment project that has occurred in downtown Ashland, so please come and support Yancey & Jane Jones, and the tenants of the Center.

The 6th Annual Ashland Harvest 10K Run & 5K Run/Walk is set for Saturday, October 24th, and will benefit the St. James the Less Free Clinic and Western Hanover Emergency Action Team (WHEAT). The St. James Clinic is very successful in providing medical, dental and vision care and is a 100% volunteer organization funded by donations. WHEAT benefits citizens in western Hanover with food, electricity, phone service and clothing. The race will begin and end at Carter Park, where a Community Health Faire will be held. You can register online by visiting http://www.ashlandharvestrun.com/

The Ashland Farmer’s Market is still going strong these days with wonderful fall vegetables, fruits, and flowers. There are also baked goods, fresh eggs & meat, and homemade soaps. The Market is open each Saturday morning from 9 until noon behind Town Hall.

I believe that there are now three new restaurants on the verge of opening in town. Not that I don’t love the ones we already have, but it would be fun to add to the mix. Call me with your Ashland news: 310-5320, or email ashlandnews@gmail.com. Have a wonderful week!

Monday, October 12, 2009

10/15/09 Trains at Night, Autumn Races, RMC Fall Festival


Why are the trains so much louder at night than in the day? Has anyone else noticed this? Is it just quieter, so there aren’t as many other noises to compete with the trains? Do they go through town faster at 10pm than they do at 8am in the morning? I live a few blocks from the tracks, and you really don’t notice the sound unless it’s late at night. Then the train sounds like it’s in my back yard, even with all the windows shut.

Have you driven past Randolph-Macon recently and seen the tent by the football fields? I know it’s for Homecoming Weekend, but it certainly looks like the circus has come to town. It is a very, very tall tent.

The 6th Annual Ashland Harvest 10K Run & 5K Run/Walk is set for Saturday, October 24th, and will benefit the St. James the Less Free Clinic and Western Hanover Emergency Action Team (WHEAT). The St. James Clinic is very successful in providing medical, dental and vision care and is a 100% volunteer organization funded by donations. WHEAT benefits citizens in western Hanover with food, electricity, phone service and clothing. The race will begin and end at Carter Park, where a Community Health Faire will be held. You can register online by visiting http://www.ashlandharvestrun.com/

Remember, the Ashland Farmers’s Market continues to be open through this month and into November. You can find gorgeous fall flowers and wonderful fruits and vegetables. It’s open every Saturday from 9am to noon. Grab a cup of coffee at the Coffee and Tea and stroll on over.

Randolph-Macon will hold their annual Fall Festival on Sunday, October 25th from 2-4pm at the Brock Center. There will be games and fun for kids of all ages. Come dressed in your Halloween costume! Contact Whitney at reginaedwards@students.rmc.edu for more information.

Friday, October 23rd come to the Ashland Library for Teen Game Night beginning at 6pm. This event is open to Middle and High Schoolers. Play Guitar Hero, Wii Games, and Board Games with your friends. Snacks will be served. Call 798-4072 to register.

Story times for younger kids continue to be offered throughout the week at your friendly, neighborhood library. Visit http://www.pamunkeylibrary.org/ for more information.

All anyone can talk about these days is the beautiful weather. The smell of wood smoke, the crackle of dry leaves, the crickets in the dying grass: all aspects of autumn here. We have seen geese flying south, and deer grazing in the morning fog. The aging soybeans have turned our fields a brilliant shade of yellow, and the trees are close behind as they begin to change. If I was writing a letter to someone far away, I would tell them it is an excellent time of year to live in Ashland. I’m sure they would laugh as they read those words, because I say that all the time.

Don’t forget how lucky we are. Don’t get so wrapped up in work or school, or volunteer projects that you forget about the simple things around you. Slow down and think for a minute about what a nice country we have, and how good life can be here. For all the unknown factors, all the worry, all the stress- life is very sweet here. There will always be a reason to smile in the COTU. I promise.

Send me your Ashland news, your Halloween costume ideas, your trick-or-treating plans. I think everyone should dress up- young and old. You can reach me at ashlandnews@gmail.com, or 310-5320. Cheers!

Monday, October 5, 2009

10/01/09 Flowers, Football, Storytime, Seniors


October is a great month around here. I always forget how pleasant it is until it rolls around again. We are past the time frame for a hurricane, those summer storms are gone, and the chance of frost won’t come for many weeks. As the humidity leaves, so does the angst that accompanies it, and a calmer atmosphere remains. We more resemble our New England cousins now, than the fiery ones to the south. It is hard to get too worked up while wearing corduroy.


Everyone should be outside this Saturday. The Ashland Farmer’s Market has tons of great fall produce and beautiful plants and flowers. It is a very good time of year to plant new trees and flowers. Just don’t plant any apple trees close to a cedar. Ask Dave Gilmore what happens if you do that.




On Saturday, October 10th, from 9-2pm, the Hanover Master Gardeners will be holding a fall plant sale at the Hanover Human Resource Complex on Rt.1. You know- the Social Services building at Ashcake and Rt. 1. That must be the formal name of the building. They will be selling perennials, shrubs, trees, pumpkins, and other garden items, like rain barrels. All proceeds will support the horticultural programs in our public schools.

If you are 55 or better join the Hanover Seniors. Meetings include educational programs, mini field trips, lunch bunch and guest speakers. The Hanover Senior meets the first Thursday of each month (except June, July and August) at 10am at First Baptist Church, 800 Thompson St. On Thursday, Oct. 1st Maxim Healthcare Services will be in attendance and will offer flu shots free of charge to those with Medicare Part B. Maxim Health Care Services also participates with most insurance companies (fee may apply). For more information, please call 779-7948 or 365-4695, or log on to http://www.co.hanover.va.us/.

Family story time at the Library will be Monday, October 5th at 6:30 pm. It is perfectly acceptable to come dressed in your pajamas.

We were glad to hear that Pedro’s boys beat those Catholics this past weekend, 31-21. They’ll play Washington & Lee this Saturday at home at 1pm. And let me tell you, W&L has lost their past two games, so I think the Yellow Jackets are in a perfect position to take care of them.

Speaking of football, Patrick Henry High School continued their celebration of their 50th year this past weekend with a great football game. Yes, they lost, but I think everyone had a great time and enjoyed themselves. The Patriots will play Thomas Jefferson this Friday at home, at 7pm.

Be sure to spend plenty of time this month looking at the sky. It will never be as clear or as blue as it is right now. Towards the end of the month when the leaves change, the contrast will be striking.

Call or email me with your Ashland news: 310-5320, or ashlandnews@gmail.com. You can find a record of these columns at http://www.ashlandnews.blogger.com/. As always, have a wonderful week.

Monday, September 28, 2009

9/24/09 Tiger Trot, JDRF Walk, September Birthdays, Bluestone Pickles




Did you survive this past weekend? Did you crawl into bed Sunday night and immediately fall asleep? Oh, I am still rubbing my eyes this morning and trying to recount all the events…

What a beautiful day we had for the Third Annual Tiger Trot at Henry Clay Elementary! I am always amazed at how smoothly this event unfolds, and that is largely due to the leadership of the two race directors: JoAnn Hunter and Tracy Brown. This event has one specific purpose in mind- to help our Ashland schools be incredible places of learning. And even if you don’t have a child in either Henry Clay or Gandy, you should know that our community is only as good as its schools. Education makes the world a better place.

The Central Virginia Walk to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation was this past Sunday on Byrd Park, and once again, the team led by Jennifer and Buddha Morris was the largest family team in attendance. Of course, this should come as no surprise to many considering how many people love and care about Jen, Buddha, and their kids: Kellan & Rosie. Jen & Buddha wage a daily battle against juvenile diabetes, as both of their kids have the disease.

We were happy to hear good news from Roger & Rachel Reynolds. Their daughter, Charlotte, who is fighting a brain tumor, has gotten excellent reports from doctors lately.
The fight is long from over, but it is encouraging to see that progress is being made. We are glad that everyone is home in Ashland.

The news from LA is that Davis Luck had one of the most spectacular birthdays in recent memory! Apparently the Death Star landed in his backyard, and he and his guests successfully defended Lower Ashland from Darth Vader. We’re sending many birthday wishes to this sweet boy who turned 6 on September 22nd.

Happy Birthday to Kipp Proffit & Trey Inge who both turned 12 on September 18th! While these boys might not have had to wage inter-galactic war on their birthdays, I have no doubt that the festivities were thrilling. It’s hard to believe how fast these kids are growing up.

Wait, wait- I’m not done with birthdays yet! Lorie Foley and Jen Burch both celebrated their birthdays on September 20th!

The Ashland Kiwanis are having their 38th Annual BBQ on October 17th at A.D. Whittaker’s farm just outside of town. There’ll be lots of good food (with their top secret sauce) music, kids’ games, and lots of free parking. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for kids aged 7-12, and free for kids 6 and under. Tickets are available from any Kiwanis or KEY Club member. You can also call 883-6118, or email ashkbbq@earthlink for information. The Kiwanis do so much to support the youth in our community, and this is one of their biggest fundraisers.

It’s a beautiful time of year here in the Center- are you tired of me saying that? I just can’t get enough of those crickets; they are some of the best background music that I’ve ever heard. Oh, and the other day I found my grandmother’s recipe for sweet pickles. Have I told you the story about her pickles? Her recipe calls for some “bluestone” to be added to the mix to help the pickles keep their green color. I decided not to use the bluestone once I found out that you can also put it in your pond to prevent pond scum, or on your apple trees to keep the worms away. Yes, bluestone can even help your sheep stay away from foot-rot! In other words, my little grandmother used to put fertilizer in her pickles, but she lived to be 91, so it can’t be all that bad.

Send me your Ashland news, and tell me what’s going on. I don’t like to be out of the loop. Call or email: 310-5320, ashlandnews@gmail.com. Have a wonderful week!

Monday, September 14, 2009

9/17/09 September Whirlwind, JDRF Walk, Goodnight JR Radder


OK, September- I’ve got your number. You thought you could break me, didn’t you? You thought that you could make me dizzy with your endless calendar of events. You thought that you’d make me say “Uncle” with countless over-scheduled days. Well, Ha! The joke’s on you, Back-to-School Month! (Standing like Peter Pan) I can take anything you dish out.

Happy birthday to Daphne Gilmore who turned 9 on September 14th!

The Patrick Henry High School class of 1964 is having their reunion on Sept. 26. If you are a member of the class and have not gotten your information or have any questions please call Vaden Russell at 355-3679 .

The Tiger Trot 5K is this Saturday, and you still have time to sign up and run! Come see me at the registration table on the morning of the race and tell you’re running! September 19th will be a beautiful morning and what better way to spend it than either running through our pretty streets, or cheering on those runners. The kid’s races (1 mile and ½ mile) begin at 8am, and the 5K race begins at 9am. Come out to support the PTAs of Henry Clay and John M. Gandy Elementary! Email or call Tracy Brown if you have any questions: bob.and.tracy@verizon.net, 804-752-7762.
You have to come to the last Street Party of the summer! It just won’t be the same if you’re not there. Gates open at 6pm, and Ron Moody & the Centaurs will entertain us. Tickets are $5 in advance or $10 at the door, and are available at Cross Brothers, Ace Hardware, and Train Town, among other places.

Congratulations to everyone who ran in the Patrick Henry Half Marathon on August 29th! The weather was great this year, and there were more runners than ever. I wish I could have been out there with you- maybe next year- 8/28/10.

Once again, Ashland-Americans are showing their determination when faced with life’s challenges. On Sunday, September 20, Buddha & Jennifer Morris will be leading the largest family team of walkers in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk at 2pm in Byrd Park. Both Morris kids, Kellan and Rosie, have this disease-without-a-cure, and they are joined this year by two other amazing kids: Adam Price and Anna Dykshorn. If you can come out and walk with them, they’d love your company. If you’d like to donate to the cause, please contact Buddha Morris at anthonymorris5@verizon.net.

I hate to end our conversation this week on a sad note, but we have lost another really important person. JR Radder was a son, a husband, a father, and a friend. He leaves behind his wife, Gayle Carter, and their son, Coleman, who is a fourth grader at John M. Gandy Elementary. I am at a loss to find something comforting to say, because it is so incredibly unfair. No one should lose their Dad when they’re just a kid.

So let me wipe my eyes and remember the good things. Remember this crazy life is extraordinary, in part- or mostly, because we are here together. I will never believe that it could be better someplace else. You will never convince me that it’s more fun in California, or Nantucket, because we are all exactly where we are supposed to be. Life is here, and just waiting for you to walk through that door tomorrow morning, or step across those tracks. I can ask for no greater gift than a lifetime in Ashland, with you. Fingers crossed.

You can reach me with your Ashland news at ashlandnews@gmail.com, or 310-5320. Have fun this weekend!

9/10/09 Tiger Trot, RMC Students Return, Charlotte Home


Well Ashland, the summer of ’09 is behind us, but it certainly was a nice one, wasn’t it? The Three Sisters: Hazy, Hot, and Humid, didn’t come to visit until it was August and we were spared their love for most of the summer. I have to admit that I’ve grown accustomed to them over the years and would miss them if they ever went away for good.

I am looking forward to school starting, but I will miss the late evenings when bedtimes were non-existent. I will miss the giggling sleep-overs, and the shoes, clothing, towels that have turned up at our house: “Now who does this belong to?” I will miss the 8pm ice cream socials, and watching the kids play “Dibble” at the pool. But I’m not really sad about summer being over because it will be here again in a few months, and autumn is especially nice here in our Sweet Town.


Have you registered yet for the Tiger Trot 5K? You can register online at https://www.raceit.com/Register/?event=506 , and in fact, just go ahead and do that right now. September 19th will be a beautiful morning and what better way to spend it than either running through our pretty streets, or cheering on those runners. The kid’s races (1 mile and ½ mile) begin at 8am, and the 5K race begins at 9am. Come out to support the PTAs of Henry Clay and John M. Gandy Elementary! Email or call Tracy Brown if you have any questions: bob.and.tracy@verizon.net, 804-752-7762.



The fun thing about September 19th is how much is going on that day. You can run the Tiger Trot in the morning, visit the Farmer’s Market before noon, and then come out to dance behind the Library that evening at the last Street Party of the summer! That is almost a perfect Ashland day. The gates open at 6pm, and Ron Moody & the Centaurs will entertain us. Tickets are $5 in advance or $10 at the door, and are available at Cross Brothers, Ace Hardware, and Train Town, among other places.





Let’s welcome all the Randolph-Macon students back to town; we missed you! The campus is busy, and we’re lucky that so many of their events are open to the public. We caught a great football game this past weekend, even though Pedro’s boys lost. (I like those “Uncommon” shirts- can someone get me one of those? I’ll give you a prize.) The next home football game will be October 3rd against W&L. Visit http://www.rmc.edu/ to see the schedules for all the fall sports.



We are happy to report that little Charlotte Reynolds is back home in Ashland after weeks and weeks at the MD Anderson Clinic in Houston, Texas. I think Charlotte and her parents are incredible warriors, fighting that horrible cancer. I continue to be amazed at their perseverance and stamina, and I’d like to thank Roger and Rachel for writing about their struggle on the Caring Bridge website (www.caringbridge.org/visit/charlottereynolds). I’m sure I speak for most of Ashland when I say, if I knew any magic, I’d be casting spells left and right. Keep fighting. Keep going.





This Sunday, September 13th, Independence Christian Church of Ashland will have a gospel music concert featuring the popular Homeward Bound. The concert will begin at 7:00 p.m. and will be followed with an ice cream and cookie social. There is no charge and everyone is welcome. I had the pleasure of hearing their pastor, Rebecca Highfield, give the invocation at a Town Council meeting. She gave thanks for our summer heat- I liked that.





This time last year we were all busy with the 150 Celebration- do you remember that? Are you glad that this fall is not as busy, or do you miss singing “Happy Birthday” to Ashland every fifteen minutes? I do like a party, so I will miss all those festivities, but I think we have plenty to keep us laughing.





Oh, and speaking of that, have you noticed how much people laugh around here? I have a story to tell you about that, but I’ve run out of column space this week. Call or email me with your Ashland news: 310-5320, ashlandnews@gmail.com. Any hurricanes out there?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

8/27/09 Onward to Autumn, Tiger Trot, Movie Night, Children's Market


There’s less than two weeks left before school starts and summer ends. What’s that you say? Summer lasts until September 21st? I’ve never believed that. Ask any Ashland child on September 8th if it’s still summer and see what they say. You cannot have summer and school at the same time. It is a travesty for those children who go to school year-round to not know the laziness that creeps into your bones after two months of unscheduled-ness.


But as much as I dislike summer ending, don’t we have a lot to look forward to? The Macon kids will be back soon, and football games will start. The leaves will change and pumpkin-flavored things will reappear. We’ll soon pull out our old sweaters and soft jeans, and the beautiful skies of October will return.


The 3rd Annual Tiger Trot is fast approaching! Sign up to walk or run in this fun 5K and Kids Races through the streets of Ashland. This is a great fundraiser for the Gandy and Henry Clay PTA’s. Visit https://raceit.com/Register/?event=506 to register. If you don’t want to run, please come out to cheer on our runners. You’ll love the look on those kids’ faces when they cross the finish line.


Teen Movie night will be Friday, Sept. 11th at the Ashland Library beginning at 6pm. Pizza and drinks will be served. I think if you have a child who’s in middle school (but not technically a “teen”) then they are welcome. Call the library for more details: 798-4072.


The final Children's market is happening this Saturday at the Ashland Farmer’s Market, so bring some extra cash and support a fresh batch of local entrepreneurs. This is a great chance to be inspired with youthful creativity, stand under the walnut tree, and get started on your holiday shopping. I was so impressed with the crafts that were for sale last month. There was also some of the best fresh lemonade that I’ve had in a long time. The Market is open from 9am to noon, behind Town Hall.


I have an over-active imagination that really does me more harm than good. Every time we leave town on vacation, I regularly expect our house to not be there when we come back. I imagine that I left the toaster plugged in and all that is left is a smoldering pile. I almost have to hide my eyes as we approach Chapman Street, and I think, “Is it still there?” At first sight of it, I am relieved and feel silly because of course someone would have called us if our house burned down.


Returning home last week from the beach, we quickly began unloading the car as the children ran in the house, excited to be home. The business of being home unfolded as grocery lists were made, clothes put away, and beach toys stored. It wasn’t until I heard a train whistle, like a hand waved in front of a dazed face, that I took a deep breath and smiled. Here I am. At the Center. My sweet town.


Call or email me your Ashland news: 310-5320, ashlandnews@gmail.com. Enjoy this last week of summer!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

8/20/09 Northern Neck, Gnomes, Bluemont

Well Ashland, the title of this column is “You Can’t Go Home Again”, and is about traveling back to where you came from. For three days in a row, I drove Rt. 360 and Rt. 301 to the Northern Neck, and the driving was the easy part.


My family has been in the Northern Neck for a while now, so almost everyone I saw was a cousin. My childhood comes flashing back at me with every new person who walked in the door, arms full of ham biscuits, pound cake, or Coca-Colas. Here was my 3rd cousin Julie Christopher; here was her father, Peyton Balderson. Here was Marion James Packett who I hadn’t seen in 20 years and looked like he was still 17. I smiled, gave hugs to many, and told them all that we live in Ashland now, and it is such a wonderful town.

They, of course, did not leave the Northern Neck like I did, and I started to wonder if maybe I should have stayed, too.

The church where my mother’s family is all buried is Menokin Baptist- an old, red-brick church surrounded by quiet bean fields. There are oyster shells in the driveway that have probably been there since my grandparents were married there, and soft-ball trophies line the walls of the parish hall. After the funeral, there was lunch served, but it was hard to eat because there were so many people to talk to. The pecan pie was gone very early, but there was enough corn pudding to last to the end.

At the end of each evening, I would drive home by 360, then 30, then 301, and then the turn onto Rt. 54 at Hanover Court House. Seeing the sign that said, ‘Ashland 6 miles”, was always comforting because I would tell myself that I could walk it from there, and driving into town late at night felt like a blanket around my shoulders.

Not everyone here is a cousin. My friends here have not known me since I was born. Here, I am just me- not my father’s daughter. I tell myself that is life. We are given these contemplative moments to reflect and to wonder about where we have come from. I am lucky to have come from that old place, and even luckier still to have ended up here at the Center.
So, there, I’m done for now. Let me throw in some Ashland News before Greg Glassner fires me.

(Hand on my hips) Who put up all those pictures of gnomes around Ashland? I fully expect someone to solve this mystery for me before we return to town. Hey, Corinne Luck! Will you figure this out for me, please?

Summer is really threatening to leave us, as the last Bluemont concert is this Sunday at 7pm on the front lawn of the Arts and Activities Center. The Daryl Davis Band will perform a healthy serving of rhythm and blues- enough to make you feel like getting up and dancing. Tickets are $5 at the door. Visit www.hanoverarts.org for more information.

Send me your Ashland news, and your stories of going home. The really lucky ones are those who have lived their lives here. I can be reached at 310-5320, or ashlandnews@gmail.com. Have a good week.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

8/13/09 Peter Pan Debuts, Tiger Trot, Bluemont, Goodnight Billie

For the third year in a row, Lorie Foley has given the children of Ashland a beautiful gift. Her Theater Camp, held at the Hanover Arts and Activities Center, debuted “Peter Pan” this past weekend and we were all amazed and delighted.

The inside of the Center was decorated with a fairy tale set, the children all seemed to sparkle, and the small children who were invited to sit next to the stage were transfixed.
The tale of Peter Pan was especially poignant because none of us wanted those children to have to grow up. I wished that they could have summers like this for the rest of their lives. I hope, hope, hope that they remember this and know what a special thing it was. We could not help but wipe our eyes as the two Wendys, Madison Brown and Elena Reiderer, sang the song ‘Never Say Goodbye”, which asked us to not say “goodbye” which is final, but to instead say “goodnight.” Life goes by much too fast, Ashland.

In that respect, I will say goodnight to my grandmother, Betty Ward, who left us recently. She was 90, and she had lost her sister, Lucy, in January so she was ready to go. Billie was a good grandmother. Her house was an elegant place that smelled like Dove soap. When I was little and stayed at her house, she would let me eat ice cream in her bed while she and my grandfather watched Johnny Carson. She was the last of her generation, and we all seem a little older now. I am no longer a granddaughter to anyone.

The 6th Annual Ashland Harvest 10K Run/5K walk will be on Oct. 24 beginning at 9:00 A.M. at Carter Park. The course weaves through the beautiful, historical town past Randolph Macon College and along the railroad tracks. This year, the Ashcake Woman's Club is adding a Community Health Faire from 8:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. All proceeds to benefit Saint James Free Clinic, WHEAT and various other local charities. Additional information can be found at www.Ashlandharvestrun.com or 752-4815 or 798-9341.

There are just two more Bluemont Concerts left this summer! Even in this hot August weather, the front lawn of the Arts and Activities Center is always shady and cool in the evenings. This Sunday we welcome The Lindsay Family- a mother & father and their three kids: 14, 12 & 9! There are always so many children in the audience; it will be fun for them to get to see young performers. Tickets are $5 at the door, and the show starts at 7pm. Visit http://www.hanoverarts.org/ for more information.

Have you signed up for the Tiger Trot 5K Race yet? This is an incredibly well-run race through the streets of Ashland to benefit the Henry Clay and John Gandy PTA’s. The race will be held on Saturday, September 19th at Henry Clay Elementary. You can run in the race in the morning and celebrate at the last Street Party of the season in the evening. Contact Tracy Brown for more information: bob.and.tracy@comcast.net.

Save your shopping for the Farmer’s Market this Saturday behind Town Hall. This heat is just what the Hanover Tomatoes asked for and it’s hard to find better vegetables than those grown on our local farms. The Market is open from 9 to noon. Bring a wagon.

This Friday, August 14th, the Summer Reading Program Celebration at the Ashland Library begins at 6:30 p.m. featuring our very own God Fearin’ Snake Handlers!Free ice cream will be served. Come and enter to win our prize drawings! This event issponsored by the Friends of the Ashland Library.

Alright, I supposed if you have to shop for school supplies you can go ahead and do it. As much as I’ve tried to ignore the end of summer, it is still steadily approaching. There is still time for cook-outs and croquet parties, I believe. Let’s keep dancing until the last song.

Send me your Ashland news: 310-5320, ashlandnews@gmail.com. You can find a record of these columns at http://www.ashlandnews.blogspot.com/. Have a lovely week!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

8/6/09 End is in Sight, Bluemont, Tiger Trot, Bright Beginnings


You know, sometimes August is hard to love. The end is in sight- as goes August, so goes the summer, and it's all down-hill from here. So while we squeeze in one last trip to the beach, one more Friday at the pool, here's a little contest to add some fun. Whoever can come up with the answer to this joke that is closest to my answer (which is sealed in a valut) will win some amazing prize. Extra points awarded for sacrasm!

How many Ashlanders does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

There is a wonderful program called "Bright Beginnings" at the Patrick Henry YMCA that helps less fortunate elementary-aged children get the supplies and clothes they need to go back to school. This year they have 172 children registered for the program and they need your help! There are three ways that you can lend a hand: volunteer to shop with a child at the Virginia Center Target; purchase a backpack filled with supplies (names with grade level and school available at the Dry Y); or make a donation. Each child gets $100 in donations to spend on clothes at Target. There are shopping nights next week where volunteers are still needed: August 10 and 13. Please email Sharon Stiles at smstiles@comcast.net if you can help in some way. Please visit www.ymcarichmond.org/brightbeginnings to learn more about this program.

Happy birthday on August 9th to Clyde Johnson who turns 89! Mr Johnson came to Ashland in 1932 when he was 12 years old, and certainly could tell some stories of what life was like back then.

Do you know where John Dyer was this past weekend? He was in Finland! He was on the other side of the planet competing in the World Masters Athletics Competition in Finland! John finished 4th in he world (did you get that? W-O-R-L-D) in the 400m Hurdles Mens 50 race. Wow. I am so impressed. Not only can he run fast, but he can jump fast, too. Congratulations John!

We had another wonderful summer evening this past Sunday on the lawn of the Hanover Arts and Activities Center listening to Last Train Home. There was a full moon, a yard full of friends, and music to shake the cicadas out of the trees. This coming Sunday will bring the band L'Angelus to Ashland. We can all pretend that we live in New Orleans, especially with this lovely humidity that has come home. Tickets are $5 for adults at the door, and the show starts at 7pm. Visit www.hanoverarts.org for more information.

Have you signed up for the Tiger Trot 5K race yet? This is an incredibly well-run race through the streets of Ashland to benefit the Henry Clay and John M. Gandy PTAs. The race will be held on Saturday, September 19th at Henry Clay Elementary. You can run in the race in the morning and celebrate at the last Street Party of the season that night. Contact Tracy Brown (ne. Stanley) for more information: bob.and.tracy@comcast.net.

So please, please savor every second of this fast month. Spend every available minute at the pool, or lying in a hammock somewhere. Focus on the small and the over-looked, so nothing, take a nap, write a letter. We must fight against the "rip-tide" of time that happens near the COTU. Call me with your Ashland news if you have the time, but if you're too busy counting falling stars, that's ok. I'll make something up.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

7/30/09 Pirate Croquet, Children's Market, Bluemont Evenings


We have heard that investigators from the United States Croquet Association were in the area last week looking into reports of rogue croquet games being played in LA. People, please! If you must play croquet, for goodness sake, take the time to read the rules on etiquette, dress code, and how to replace balls that become broken while in play. Palm Beach is watching. Give no quarter!

We had such a fun time at the Children’s Market at the Ashland Farmer’s Market this past Saturday. There are so many talented and industrious kids around here. There were veggies for sale from kids’ gardens, handmade jewelry, soap, magnets, and some of the best lemonade I’ve had in a long time. The next Children’s Market will be on the last Saturday in August, the 29th. If your kids are interested in having a booth, email farmersmarket@town.ashland.va.us.


Happy Birthday to all these Leo girls in Ashland! On July 28th, Lucy Klisz turned eight, and Susannah Gilmore turned twelve. On July 20th, Ruby Adele Marchetti arrived to brighten the world of Stephan, April, Parker and Ellis. Ruby was 9 pounds, 20.5 inches long, and has quickly become the darling of Henry Clay Street. On July 16th, Stella Roane Longmire was welcomed by her doting parents, Abe & Laura, and her beaming grandparents, John & Becky Longmire. Stella was just over 7 pounds, and 20 inches long. So watch out for all these tough, strong-willed girls with old-fashioned names! Certainly they will make the world a better place.


One hundred additional Ashland Yearbooks will arrive at the Ashland Visitor’s Center (old train station) on July 30th. If you didn’t get your copy before, they’re on sale for $65 a piece and make lovely Christmas gifts.

The first Bluemont concert of the summer was lovely last Sunday. John McCutcheon provided wonderful entertainment, as always. The rain held off, and we were able to sit outside with our friends- just the way we like it. This Sunday’s concert will be a big crowd- Last Freight Train Home, so come early to get a good spot. Tickets are $5 per person, $4 Bluemont Friends & seniors, $2 kids under 12. There are no advance ticket sales. The Hanover Arts and Activities Center is located at 500 South Center Street in Ashland.

Registration is now open for the 2009 Tiger Trot benefiting Henry Clay and John M. Gandy Elementary schools. This year the race will be held on Saturday, September 19th. The kid's races begin at 8:00am and the 5K begins at 9:00am. You can register online at www.raceit.com/Register/?event=506. This is a lovely race and does so much to help out our local elementary schools.

We’re in the thick of summer and it’s hard to get a group of people together because of vacation schedules. I like summer vacations. They’re a good thing. But I rest easier when everyone is home in Ashland and back in their own beds- when “All’s right with the world.” Send me your news- 310-5320, or email ashlandnews@gmail.com. Have a good week & travel safely.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The COTU Theory of Quantum Speed-Up and other summer news...


The summer is moving by entirely too quickly for my taste, but I know I’m contributing to this hastening, and one theory is that it is completely inevitable. We are products of our town, Ashland! We have become over-aware of the passing of time because of our affection for time spent in the COTU, and have unwittingly succumbed to a downward spiral of hyper-scheduling! OK, well at least I have. There are just so many things to do here, and we hate to miss any of them. Who wants to lie on the back porch and read a book when there’s Movie Night at the Ashland Pool?

Our Charlotte Reynolds is in Houston, Texas for a while still fighting that awful cancer. She turned 4 on July 9th with a party so big that it lasted for two days. It was a wonderful tribute to Charlotte, and her parents Roger & Rachel- and showed how very many people are pulling for her recovery. Happy Birthday CJ! You’re doing a great job and we’re all so proud of how hard you’re working at getting better. Ashland misses you.


This Sunday marks the first Bluemont Concert of the summer. Come hear John McCutcheon on the front lawn of the Hanover Arts and Activities Center beginning at 7pm. Bring your lawn chairs and bug spray. Tickets are $5 per person, $4 for Bluemont friends, and $2 for kids under 12. The John M. Gandy PTA will have refreshments for sale and will have registration forms for Tiger Trot!

Registration is now open for the 2009 Tiger Trot benefiting Henry Clay and John M. Gandy Elementary schools. This year the race will be held on Saturday, September 19th. The kid's races begin at 8:00am and the 5K begins at 9:00am. You can register online at https://www.raceit.com/Register/?event=506. This is a lovely race and does so much to help out our local elementary schools.

Come to Family Game Night at the Ashland Library next Tuesday July 28 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Beat the heat and play some board games at the library, or try out their new Wii! Check out our selection of books on games and more! This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Ashland Library who will also serve refreshments

The Ashland Farmer’s Market is in full swing! Get there early on Saturday mornings for the best selection. The Market is open from 9 to noon, and this Saturday will feature a Children’s Market where our COTU kids will be selling their veggies. There are beautiful cut flowers that will last all week on your table, blueberries, plants, herbs, eggs, and of course, tomatoes.

The Ashland Youth Soccer League is taking registrations for fall soccer. We have such a great group of dedicated parents and volunteers who run this organization! Your kids will have a great time and they’ll learn a sport that will stay with them throughout their lives. Register at http://www.aysl.org/ before August 15th.

So go unschedule yourself, oh wait- only unscheduled yourself from activities which I am not involved in. Are we clear on that? Good. Call or email me: 310-5320, ashlandnews@gmail.com. Have a free-range week!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

7/16/09 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Barracudas, and Cicadas.


Alright, who ordered up this New England weather? Hmm? Someone step up and take responsibility for these cool nights and low-humidity days! I bet it was some displaced Northerner- and you know who I’m talking to! Well, I want my Central Virginia summer back. I want my own, personal sauna. I want to be able to fully appreciate things, like central air conditioning, gin & tonics, and October. None of these things matter much when you have to put on jeans in the evening just to sit on your back porch. This is Ashland, VA not Ashland, MA. Good grief.

While we might be considered a suburb of Richmond, we lean more towards the wilderness around here. Deer seem to like our vacant lots, copperheads like of yards, and at least one bear visits regularly each summer. Now I’ve heard of bobcat sightings in Beaverdam and LA (Lower Ashland- you should know that by now). So if you count the Tiger Trot coming up in September, you can say, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” (Thank you to Mr. Brown for pointing that out.)

Registration is now open for the 2009 Tiger Trot benefiting Henry Clay and John M. Gandy Elementary schools. This year the race will be held on Saturday, September 19th. The kid's races begin at 8:00am and the 5K begins at 9:00am. You can register online at https://www.raceit.com/Register/?event=506. This is a lovely race and does so much to help out our local elementary schools.

Mark your calendar for the second Street Party of the summer! Saturday, July 18th will bring local wineries for a wine tasting with music by Premiere. Tickets are $10 in advance, and $15 at the gate, and are on sale at Cross Brothers Grocery, Ace Hardware, and Hometown Realty. Gates open at 7 pm in the parking lot behind the library.

What is summer without a lemonade stand? The school-age students at Kiddie Kingdom are participating in the 8th Annual Anthem LemonAid on Friday, July 17th. The Children’s Miracle Network Richmond established this fundraiser as a way for children to get involved and to give back to the community. They will be raising money to help children with cancer. Their stand will be located on the front porch and we encourage everyone to drive through and purchase lemonade from Kiddie Kingdom! The stand will be open all day (7:00 am – 6:00 pm), and lemonade will be sold for $1.00 per cup.

Here’s my other, really important Ashland news: The cicadas have returned and can be heard chirping most afternoons and evenings until well past midnight. Sleep with your windows open for a wonderful Virginia lullaby. I would also point out that now is the perfect time to change your diet so that you can eat BLTs all day. They are perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and will never taste as good as they do right now.

The Ashland Barracudas won their meet against Mechanicsville last week, but did you really expect anything other than that? The final score was 1370 to 1080, and Mechanicsville had 24 MORE swimmers registered than Ashland. The last meet is this week against Pebble Creek. I am just so impressed.

Let me know what’s going on down your street. Have you read a good book lately? How are your tomatoes doing? If you catch a June bug, tie a string around it’s leg and you can have a flying pet on a string. Then send me a picture of it. I can be reached at 310-5320, or ashlandnews@gmail.com. You can find a record of these columns at http://www.ashlandnews@blogspot.com/. Have a great week!

Friday, July 10, 2009

7/9/09 Ashland the Beautiful, Unstoppable Barracudas, Second Street Party, Bubble Prank

What a beautiful Fourth of July weekend! I’d like to send many thanks to all the volunteers at the Hanover Arts and Activities Center for putting on another wonderful 4th celebration. Carolyn Peart was committee chair for the parade and all the fun on the front lawn, and she did an amazing job as always. The new parade route was different, but I think everything went smoothly. We loved all the pets- the dogs, the puppies, and the rat! The sun shone, the humidity was low, and the controversies over the balloon toss were settled amicably.

I hope all your afternoon activities on the 4th were fun. We spent most of the afternoon and evening on Virginia Street, and might have spent the night if we didn’t have to go see some fireworks. A good time was definitely had by all.

The Ashland Barracudas are completely unstoppable these days. Their meet against Kings Charter was interrupted by a tornado warning this past Wednesday night, and continued the next evening where Ashland prevailed with a 1206 to 1111 win. Ashland was even the smaller team by 50 swimmers!

This Friday, July 10th, is Teen Movie night at the Ashland Library from 6-8pm. This event is hosted by the Friends of the Ashland Library- drinks and pizza will be served.

Mark your calendar for the second Street Party of the summer! Saturday, July 18th will bring local wineries for a wine tasting with music by Premiere. Tickets are $10 in advance, and $15 at the gate, and are on sale at Cross Brothers Grocery, Ace Hardware, and Hometown Realty. Gates open at 7 pm in the parking lot behind the library.

The first class to graduate Patrick Henry High School, he class of 1960, will be celebrating a reunion at the Hanover Country Club on September 19th. Reunion chairman is Franklin Jones from Doswell, and he can be reached at 876 3644. Please call for more information- don’t miss this party!

I was late to work this morning because I had to stop and take pictures of the Randolph-Macon campus. Huge blobs of bubbles had escaped from the massive bubble-bath that was the fountain, and had drifted across the street to the Brock Center. There was a R-MC physical plant employee standing next to the fountain with a blank look on his face. I’m sure he’s tired of cleaning up from practical jokers, but it sure was entertaining- it almost looked like a new art installation.

Remember: No news is too small for summertime. Send me your stories of the sublime and the miniscule. Do your hydrangeas like all the wet weather? Did you buy some new flip-flops? Who won the washer game in the backyard last weekend? Everyone wants to know! You can reach me at 310-5320 or email, ashlandnews@gmail.com. Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

7/2/09 Ashland's Fourth of July, Mighty Barracudas, Remembering Harry




In the summer, I like to see beach towels hung to dry on porch railings. I like to see kids riding their bikes everywhere. In our house now, the windows stay shut and the air conditioner stays on, but I miss the sound of a fan in the window. In the seventies, sometimes my parents would sit on the front porch with their friends and their gin & tonics, and I could hear their voices through my bedroom window. It was a comforting sound to listen to as I fell asleep: muffled laughter and the buzz of August cicadas. Are summers ever as perfect as the ones we remember from our childhood?

Rest up for the Fourth of July! The Ashland Library’s Used Book Sale begins at 9am inside the Arts and Activities Center, and your apple pie for the contest needs to be dropped off by 10am.

Get your kids to decorate their bikes and line up for the parade in the Henry Clay Elementary parking lot by 10:15, and the parade starts at 11:00- SHARP! Bring your blanket & chairs, and find a shady spot on the front lawn of HAAC. There will be music, games for the kids, food, ice cream, crafts, and carriage rides around town. It is hard for me to believe that any place on earth could have a better 4th of July than we do.

The Patriotic Pet judging will begin at 11:45 at the corner of Cox Lane, and the winners of the Apple Pie Contest will be announced at noon.

The Ashland Barracudas are unstoppable these days! At press time, they were 3 and 0 against Pebble Creek, Milestone, and Ashcreek. It’s really thrilling to watch these swimmers evolve over the years and just fly through the water. My fingers are crossed for another great meet against Kings Charter this week.

In other news this week, the Spence Manufacturing Co. announced that it was shutting down production on its most popular model. Industry analysts were not surprised by this move, and CEO Susan Spence said that this reorganization was planned for many months and is “just not a big deal”.

The 11 year old Ashland All Star District 5 team opened up play this past weekend with an exciting come from behind win against the Mechanicsville Nationals. The boys of summer on the Ashland team are Garrett Allen, Trey Inge, Phillip Lockwood, Eric O'Malley, Kipp Proffitt, Dylan Ross, Holden Samuels, Hunter Snelson, George Stiles, William Strong and Cole Woods. Dylan Ross got Ashland off to a great start as he led the game with a homerun; he also had 3 runs batted in and came in to pitch in relief and picked up the win for the hometown squad! The team is managed by Kevin Proffitt and the coaches are Steve O'malley and EG Allen, and faced the Chesterfield Little League this past Monday evening.

I doubt if anyone else noticed this sad anniversary, but it was 80 years ago this past Monday that Sargeant Harry Valentine Smeeman was murdered in Ashland. He was young, just 38, and he left behind his wife, Lula, and their two daughters, Dorothy and Mildred. It is a sinister story, one that still gives me chills when I think about it, and it is a story that won’t leave me alone. Perhaps it is destined to remain unsolved. We will see.

Call or email me with your Ashland news: 310-5320, ashlandnews@gmail.com. Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summertime and the living is easy...

So, how many people went out looking for the Ashland bear last week? I heard there were search parties out all over town, and unfortunately I was in Mechanicsville all day and missed out on the fun. I heard that it was on Railroad Ave, then behind the Skateland, then on his way to Doswell. Here’s another perfect example of how we have it all in the COTU- excitement, adventure, even wild animals!

In June of 1959, Henry Clay High School graduated its last class, and the two-story building that was built in 1915 closed its doors forever. That building stood where the parking lot is now at Henry Clay Elementary. The reunion committee for this last class, under the direction of Chairman Bruce Newell, is currently planning for their 50th Reunion on September 19th, at the Hanover Country Club. You can contact Linda T Holt (Virginia Beach) for more information: (757) 481-4176.

Are you ready for the 4th of July? Have you pulled out your bunting, and your patriotic clothes? Get your kids to decorate their bikes and join in the fun by participating in the parade! The new and improved route begins (line up by 10:15 am) at Henry Clay Elementary and will end at the Arts and Activities Center. There will be patriotic music, food, crafts, and games on the front lawn of the Center. Bring your family and friends, bring a picnic lunch, and come spend the Fourth with the best neighbors in the Universe. You can find more details and a map of the parade route at www.hanoverarts.org or call Carolyn Peart (804)798-9131. Remember to make a pie for the Apple Pie Contest!

Lorie Foley brings Children's Theatre Camp back to the Hanover Arts & Activities Center this summer. On July 1, 2009, there will be auditions for Peter Pan from 1-3 pm and 6-8pm at the Center. Camp starts July 6 and continues through Aug. 6, 2009 Mon. - Thursday 3 - 5 pm. Please visit www.hanoverarts.org for more information and a registration form.

Registration is now open for the 2009 Tiger Trot benefiting Henry Clay and John M. Gandy Elementary schools. This year the race will be held on Saturday, September 19th. The kid's races begin at 8:00am and the 5K begins at 9:00am. You can register online at https://www.raceit.com/Register/?event=506. This is a lovely race and does so much to help out our local elementary schools.

There will be a Home Business Bazaar fundraiser for Charlotte Reynolds on Sat, June 27th from 10-2pm at St. Ann’s Church. Some of the many vendors attending include: Avon, Arbonne, Pampered Chef, and Creative Memories. You can read about Charlotte’s struggle against a brain tumor at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/charlottereynolds.

The Richmond Indigenous Gourd Orchestra will perform at the Ashland Library on Wednesday, July 1 at 10:30 a.m. Dance along to the “gourdeous” music of the eclectic group, who grow their own instruments locally.

You know, I don’t practice what I preach. I just thought you should know that. I tell you not to take one second for granted and I do it all the time. I waste time in senseless arguments, in ridiculous worries, in unjustified frustrations. I think about too much and not enough at the same time, and I stay up too late at night. So I will try and follow my own advice this summer: relax, have fun, laugh, love, and when you see a shooting star make a wish that you never have to leave this sweet town. Call me with your Ashland news- I also accept news from LA (Lower Ashland): 310-5320, ashlandnews@gmail.com. Happy summer.