In Memory of My Father

Manuel Ybarra - Carmen's Dad

My father left this earth 16 years ago. I was not cheated by a sudden death. I was born when he was 60 years old. He lived a good, long, and healthy life. Logically, I know this but emotionally his death destroyed me. The loss of a parent at any age though is devastating, especially when you rely on that parent’s guidance and quiet strength as much as I did. Unequivocally, when he died a piece of me died along with him. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, that I don’t seek advice from him, that I don’t wish that we could just sit together one more time.

Blue Ridge Mountains Waterfall

Coming to terms with loss and what it means to live the rest of my life without him was a struggle. What I’ve come to see is that he is not 3000 miles away and 6 feet under. He is here with me. He is in my heart and in my child’s laughter. He is in my eyes and in my strength. He is within but he is also so ingrained in these Blue Ridge Mountains. This place he never found in life, he is rooted in the afterlife. I find him in a blue jay outside my window. I feel his warmth in the pine scented mountain air. On hikes along the Parkway trails, in the stillness of the roaring sounds of the waterfalls. He is deer and bear sightings. He is sitting by the river watching people fish. He is the heartbeat of the drum circle. He is the acorns and seedlings beginning life anew. He’s always here, he never left me. Where I am, he still is, always.

Blue Ridge Mountains - Asheville NC

Father’s Day I will spend on the trails with my dog and with my father. I will sit with him in the sunshine and feel his warmth, I will listen to his words of wisdom in the rustling of the trees, and I will remind myself how fortunate I am to have such an amazing father.

Love Carmen

Lake Julian Festival of Lights in South Asheville

Lake Julian Festival of Lights

While driving out tonight, we decided that we wanted to find some holiday cheer in the Asheville area. I remember passing by the entrance to Lake Julian while on Long Shoals the other day and it say that the Festival of Lights, which is a drive-thru holiday light show, was starting on December 4th. I looked at my phone and sure enough, today was December 6th. We headed that way.

When we arrived, there was a shed with three folks in front of it to collect the $5 admission price to enter. And, they give my little girl a candy cane as well. We tuned the radio to a certain channel as they instruction so holiday music was playing the whole time we were there. We drove through once, we drove through twice, and then we drove through for the third time; each round noticing something new and cheery.

If you are looking for a holiday experience in the Asheville area, we definitely recommend you take a ride through the Lake Julian Festival of Lights. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Ho Ho Ho.. Merry Christmas from Asheville North Carolina

asheville santa christmas 2013

Tis The Season in Asheville North Carolina as Christmas cheer is definitely in the air this year. 2013 has been a transitional and growing time for these Western North Carolina Mountains, and everyone is planning on only great things to come in 2014. When you think about Santa Claus coming to Asheville, you would think he would have some dreads, a beer belly, riding a bike or walking a dog, shouting Ho Ho Ho! Well, not necessarily as of yet, but we do have a pet loving Santa in the midst who is waving at vehicles in downtown Asheville wishing folks a Merry Christmas. Another year just about complete. We Wish You A Merry Christmas From Asheville North Carolina!


We live in the technological age where everything is cutting edge and fast paced.  Everything we do seems to be a part of some virtual quilt, with squares made of software, chips, and other small metal things I don’t understand.  Sometimes I long for a purity, a breath in of a simpler time.  I want to go to a place that still smells like the sweat on a farmers brow, or fresh dust from a hand saw.  I want to be part of nature…kind of.  Who am I kidding?  I’m a generation X-er.  Where can I get just a small taste?

My husband actually found that place for me in one his best romantic gestures yet…a horse and carriage ride through downtown Asheville.  I was in awe when I saw the quaint carriage pull up beside me, led by the beautiful horse, Gypsy Gold.  They’d just put the Christmas lights out downtown, and the air was just crisp enough to be comfortably cozy.  I could hear the faint heartbeat of the drum circle in the distance, but was more romanticized by the sax player on the corner cranking out his bluesy rendition of “Winter Wonderland.”

When the horseman helped me on board, my husband handed me a rose and wrapped me in a blanket.  I felt like Cinderella being swept away for a romantic evening, and could feel the other women on the street looking my way.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it. 

As we took off, I took note of the antiquated clip-clop of Gypsy’s shoes against the pavement.  This only grew more charming when he pranced over the cobblestone on Wall Street.  I could smell his horsey musk, but not too much, and could hear the gentle creaking of the wooden carriage.  However, the mixed aromas of Asheville restaurants permeating into the evening air reminded me I was still in our artsy civilization.  I was viewing these 19th and early 20th century buildings from the transportation they were first seen from, getting a taste of what once was.  However, I noted the modern hustle and bustle they were now pregnant with…oh what a yummy juxtaposition our Asheville is.

The three quarters of an hour spent on the horse was perfect.  It was cozy, romantic, historical, and yet the perfect ambassador of modern-day Asheville.  It’s a must-see attraction for locals and tourists alike.  Sometimes experiencing old and new together is the best way to do it.  This tour is  a home-run, and reflective of the adorable horse’s name.  This tour is simply gold…nice, slow, easy, gold.

On the Carriage!

On the Carriage!



For more information on this tour visit


“Handmade for the Holiday,” Weaverville, Celebrates 6th Annual Season to Benefit Arts for Life on Sunday

benefit event

Consider taking part in Weaverville’s “Handmade for the Holidays” Sunday, Nov. 24. For more information, click on the flier above.

 WEAVERVILLE – The 6th annual handmade for the holidays will be Sunday, Nov. 24, noon-5 p.m., at Weaverville Town Hall. This year, 10 percent of all sales are designated to benefit Arts for Life. 

A partner with Mission Hospital and other North Carolina hospitals serving children, Arts For Life builds bridges and makes lasting connections between the art and healthcare communities of North Carolina. AFL programs offer young patients and their families visual arts, music, and creative writing for more than 250 hours each week, creating successful pediatric clinic art programs, patient and family art support groups, and inpatient art programs.

The best of handmade available during the event includes art prints, candles, clothing and accessories, home goods, jewelry, note cards, ornaments,  paintings, pottery, a raffle with prizes, and more.

Handmade for the Holidays is Sunday, Nov. 24, noon-5 p.m. at Weaverville Town Hall, 30 South Min Street. Checks and cash will be accepted at the event, and 10% of proceeds will be donated to Arts For Life. For more information, visit