Buddhist Monks Create a Mandala in Downtown Asheville

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You never know who you will bump into while strolling around downtown Asheville. While walking on Broadway, I bumped into these two Buddhist Monks walking down the street. I felt like I was back in China visiting the temple for a moment. I did some research and found out that they were at the Urban Dharma Buddhist Center creating a Mandala; which is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Buddhism and Hinduism that represents the Universe. Most of them are squares with four gates and a center point which is a circle. Each of the gates is made into the shape of a T. Many times Mandalas represent radial balance, which fits right into the vibe of Asheville North Carolina. Thank you for stopping by our community!




10 Reasons Obama Is Moving To Asheville

asheville obama president Asheville has a “draw” to it, and it’s not all southern. The attributes of the area define a place to live and actually enjoy life. You cannot do that just anywhere. Many get stuck either in a BIG city feel or a small town life. Both have their benefits, but something may be missing. Asheville is that piece for many. Yes, we have our issues, politics and things we need to work on as we grow; but even the President of the United States stopped by and decided this is one of the places he would like to live. Why? Glad you asked:

  1. 12 Bones – You cannot keep that man away from his BBQ! It has now become a “must stop” just about every time Obama and the crew are in town announced.
  2. Corner Kitchen – I was there the other day, saw the chair that President Obama sat in and wondered “would he ever sit in it again?” Now, most likely so.
  3. “Mayor of Asheville” sounds cool. Wouldn’t that be the perfect gig for an ex-President?
  4. Safety – Asheville is not a city on “lockdown” with high security like DC and NYC. You are pretty much safe in these mountains. After being surrounded by Secret Service all of these years, you want to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle. Get him a few bouncers and he will be fine.
  5. Asheville is a great place to retire. Hendersonville used to be the buzz, but now it is the whole WNC area. The new Chamber slogan will surely be.. “Even Ex-Presidents Retire Here”
  6. Quality of Life: this generates from a community that cares, and from people moving here with similar values. With the diversity of cultures, mixed in with area heritage; Asheville is becoming very well-rounded. And the great outdoors! Subaru + Kayak = WIN! Mix that in with the beautiful landscape and wow, you can take a deep breath; life is about complete.
  7. The Beer – Somebody said Obama may be opening up the “Yes You Can” Brewery in WNC. No confirmation on this as of yet.
  8. The Groove – I have seen Obama dance on Ellen. Those were Asheville Drum Circle moves! We are ready for you homie.
  9. The People – Geographically, Asheville would not be anything without the folks who inhabit it. From our Government up to the hippies, there is this general niceness, call it “southern hospitality,” that comes out naturally. Folks have even said that living in this area has made them nicer people. Iron sharpens iron I guess.
  10. The Beauty – When Obama spoke at the Grove Park Inn when he was first running for President of the United States years ago; he said that if there is a place more beautiful than Asheville, he has yet to see it. The beauty of the area made an immediate and lasting impression on Obama. And it has on many of us as well.



What Makes Asheville So Weird?

xanath espina asheville

What makes Asheville so weird? The answer you get will depend on the person you ask! I got here in the 70s and Asheville was not yet known for being “weird”, rather it was just a small mountain town which was just enough “different” from the surrounding smaller towns, that many of their more “colorful types” sort of gravitated towards it. Back then, as it is now, there really wasn’t anything too weird about folks wearing gauze skirts and having long hair, people were perhaps, just more used to seeing guys in overalls and work boots.

asheville weird

But this is Asheville NOW! And while you may see guys in skirts, you will also see them in suits and yes, you can still even see them in overalls! You will see some of the same on girls and often even on a four legged citizen or two. We have FUN with fashion here, because that’s our style!

My own answer to what makes Asheville so weird is that this community embraces our collective weirdness in an inspiring and gorgeous environment.

Love… X

Playing Dress-UP

I changed the way I look at jewelry Monday night.  I didn’t learn anything about measurements, techniques, or jewelry biz lingo really.  I don’t remember the names of the gorgeous gems or stones I was tinkering with either.  I didn’t want to know those things.  However, when Asheville jewelry-maker, Nadine Fidelman invited me into her home, she taught me all I could ever hope to learn about why we choose to decorate ourselves the way we do.

At first glance jewelry is like looking out into a crowd of people.  There are a lot of shapes, sizes, colors, and styles all running together into rainbow overload.  The first thoughts are, ‘oh I see pretty things,’ and then we start searching for a focal point.  It is in that search that we realize we’re being pulled towards certain things and we start to examine why.  While I was zeroing in on a generally smooth black stone with a noticeable organic crack in the upper right corner I could overhear one of my side kicks talking about the jewelry.

“It’s not just beads, they’re individual pieces,” I heard my fellow playmate Kelly Allen offer.

At first I thought, ‘yeah, ok, there’s a lot of different jewelry here.  I can see that.’  Then I took a breath and thought about that word individual. I realized what she meant, and that I wasn’t just looking at the pieces, I was meeting them.  I went back to my black stone, noticing the gorgeous, crystal-esque inclusions the flaw revealed.  I was in love.  I thought of my own personality, how I like the rawness in life, and the beauty I find in truth.  I also believe in fighting like hell and collecting battle scars…I thought of how hard it is being a writer and how far I still had to go in the world of manuscripts.  I wanted that beautiful stone.  I had found my connection.

Lorna's Fave!

  Lorna’s Fave!

 

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We moved the party to the carpet where  the impossible not love, Nadine plopped right down with us, kicking her shoes off ready to dig in.  She shared stories with us about where she had found inspiration for her work, and let her obvious passion for her trade seep out onto us.  We started tossing necklaces and bracelets around, trimming ourselves in the jewelry like we did our mothers’ as children.  We’d try a piece on in between sips of girly shelf white wine, and chat about what we’d chosen. I asked the other three girls what they thought of what they’d selected.

Nadine chatting with Kelly about healing stones

Nadine chatting with Kelly about healing stones

Kelly, who had remarked earlier on the individualism, was drawn to stones she knew to have healing qualities.  As cancer survivor, officially in remission since January; she keeps her eyes peeled for items in nature than bode healing qualities.  Her journey with her sickness, and attention to wellness has brought her upon her choices in jewelry.  Out of those stones, one in particular jumped out at her.

“This one looks like a fishing lure,” she commented excitedly holding up the yellowish vertical stone,” like my Daddy used.”  She set it down smiling.  She had found her connection.

Whitney Thompson, a native Ashevillian piped up from the other side of the circle, holding up a gorgeous blue stone in a similar fashion. “This one reminded me of the sea,” she said.  “It’s like when you’re little.  I just wanted to take my flip-flops off.  When I saw it I wanted to go to the beach and run around.”

Whitney explaining what she loved about the peice whitpic
Whitney explaining what she loved about the piece 

Whitney’s stone actually provoked a childhood memory to surface, making her feel carefree again as she had in her most innocent years.  Whitney had found her connection.

The youngest of the group, Hannah, a 16-year-old, chose a piece unlike the rest of us, without a stone.  Her piece was raw, twisted sterling silver wired, manipulated by hand into an untamed yet simple set of earrings.  I chuckled thinking how the piece was like being a teenager, beautiful, unsure which direction it was going, and not as simple as it appeared to be.  They fit Hannah just perfectly, and hung daintily on her young ears.  She had made her connection.  I wonder if she knew…

Dainty Hannah

Dainty Hannah

While I was pondering this Whitney was perusing the backside of a necklace, “you know, their backs are just as pretty and detailed as their fronts.”

Nadine explained to the group how this is one of her trademarks.  I thought how much it made sense because there are different sides to women…many sides.  They are sometimes tucked away against our own skins for only us to enjoy and sometimes decided to be displayed so people can see our normally hidden sides.  Nadine told us she’d even been in public and saw her creation flipped over, showing them from the opposite sides.  What self-expression.

I learned something Monday night.  Jewelry isn’t just embellishment, it’s an embellishment of us.  Often times who we are is in the tiny details of the things we choose to let represent us.  We weren’t wearing jewelry, we were wearing little pieces of who we are.  I thought I was going to just play dress-up, and I did to an extent.  I just didn’t know I would be using Nadine’s art to dress up as myself.

 

If you want to make your connection with Jewelry by Nadine check out her collection at the Kress Emporium in downtown Asheville.

19 Patton Ave,  Asheville, NC 28801

If you’d love your own play date with Nadine call her 828-654-0993 or email her at nfidelman@pobox.com

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Have an interesting story?  Contact AskAsheville’s Lorna Hollifield at lornalh@gmail .com 828-280-1799

 

Find out more about Lorna’s writing journey at http://lornahollifield.com

Artimus

I started hearing tales of the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash of ’77 from my father when pampers were still my favorite pair of pants.  I knew who Ronnie Van Zant was before Big Bird, and my Sunday dinners at Mamaw’s house were really jam sessions that became my lullabies. My father’s hair was longer than my mother’s at that time, and all the men in my family sported bloody finger tips that were slaves to those beckoning long-necked instruments.  At 27 years old, in the age of whatever it is music has become that I haven’t a word that qualifies, I can bank on every family get-together bringing me back to a place when it was pure.  It’s a place I can only visit through my father’s time machine in a land that existed around the time my mother discovered boys.  I go back whenever my now greying father and Uncle pick up their guitars, close their eyes, and try to perfect still, that long ever-growing famously tricky six-string solo in Free Bird.


 

Artimus Pyle, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s drummer, and only original band-member still touring traipsed into the Applebee’s in Candler, North Carolina, my hometown about two weeks ago. 

“Lorna, you got to get down here, now,”  My husband’s voice was urgent on the other end of the phone.

“Why?  Is something wrong?”

“No.  Artimus Pyle is here.  We’re hanging out, and he’s cool as hell,”  my husband’s speech was hurried.

“You’re lying!”

“No…”

“I’ll be there in five,”  I replied with my mind reeling all the things I knew about this legend.  I knew he had a house in Asheville, but what was he doing at an Applebee’s in the down-home Candler suburb of the artsy town?

When I walked in, I saw him immediately and I had to catch my breath a little.  I was genuinely star-struck.  I swear I could smell a faint trail of smoke permeating from his long burly hair, that grew like ragged wires from under his distressed leather cowboy hat.  I wondered what the eyes from behind his aviator glasses had seen in the world of rock n’ roll, fame, and heartache.  I knew his eyes would certainly tell the stories of things I had never and would never see. 

When my husband motioned to him, and it was our time to finally meet, I don’t remember exactly what I said.  It was something to the effect of how I grew up on his music, and was proud to keep the band alive in my generation…you know, the things you say, but trying to stand out all at once.  In retrospect, I may have sounded rushed, and looked like a pre-teen meeting Justin Bieber.

When I handed him the clean white half sheet of paper the waitress rustled up for me, I first noticed his time-worn hands.  They shook a bit as he started to write, “Laugh, Lorna.  Peace, love, and happiness (in symbols).  Artimus Pyle, Drums, Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame 2006.”  I took the sheet from him, perusing it in awe.  Then, I noticed the initials, RVZ.

“You, signed Ronnie’s initials, didn’t you?”  I asked, moved that he’d not omitted the lead-singer and founding member’s name.

“You wouldn’t even know my name had it not been for that man,” he replied seriously, “and after the crash I started signing his initials.”

Artimus Pyle Band

I thought to myself what a class-act this man truly was to carry-on the memory of his fallen band-member and how proud I was to meet him.  It was then I relaxed a little bit and started just chatting with him.  I found out how he co-wrote my favorite Skynyrd song, Tuesday’s Gone, and how he was always drawn to Asheville, NC. We chatted about his respect for the philanthropic Asheville-born musician, Warren Haynes, and how he’d played with him here and there.  He spoke of his son, River, and how proud he was of him. I was careful not to bring up the plane crash, though I was so painfully curious about his take on it.  All I knew was that Van Zant and the Gaines members perished, and Artimus survived.  I wanted to know more, and maybe he sensed it, because he went into the story all on his own.”

“You know, after the crash, there was just smoke everywhere,” he began, “and I ran to the barn to get help.”

“I didn’t know you were able to that,”  I replied in awe.

He went on to describe the only things he remembered, and the whirlwind it became.  I could tell some of it was cloudy to him, yet still felt as real as it had over 35 years ago.  My guess is it was cloudy then.

After telling me to remember that money ruins everything, I gave him a hug, noticing an unimagined raw musk about him, and he went on his way.  I rushed home and googled him immediately, seeing what else I could learn.  I discovered when he ran from the plane wreckage to the nearby barn, the farmer’s son actually shot Artimus in the shoulder with an air-rifle because he was startled by his appearance.  I learned he never stopped revering Van Zant and the other members, and had made the legacy of the band his life.  I discovered he’d had ups, and downs, but understood the things that matter in life…, respect and downright allegiance to his band, family, art, and fellow man.  He is yet another jewel tucked in these blue ridge mountains; an ARTimus form in Asheville that we’re forever proud to claim.

Artimus Pyle and Lorna Hollifield January 3, 2014

Artimus Pyle and Lorna Hollifield January 3, 2014