Gnome Crushing

I was a little bit nervous.  I  noticed myself checking my make-up in the rearview mirror, and straightening my clothes obsessively.  I’d waited all week to meet him.  My hour was arriving and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.  This man is a legend, and I know everyone wants him.  His origins are argued over, and remain part of his mystery.  However, the mystery isn’t necessarily reason enough to be nervous.  It’s the things he knows, the things he’s seen, and my thirst to know them.  I want him to share with me, and let me in on his secrets (which I think he hides in his beard).  I want him to tell me what he saw in the Bermuda triangle, or where the holy grail rests…I’m sure he’s the only one that knows.  Most of all, I want to capture his spirit, and walk the streets of my own town with him, seeing it through the eyes of a legend.  If he’d only let me loop my arm in his, and go for the ride.  I feel like a schoolgirl, and I know now it’s official…I have a crush on the Travelocity gnome.

Legend says gnomes around the world have been captured time and time again to stand post in boring gardens, entertaining the small lives of the tomato plants.  However, sometime in the 80s a group of good Samaritans, Robin hoods of the gnome world  if you will, decided to take a stand, steal these gnomes, and release them into the wild.  They then travel the world until their true homes are found again.  The Travelocity gnome is no different.  He’s been globe-trotting on his little gnome sojourn since 2005.  He’s been all across America, Europe, and maybe Mars.  However, last week, it was the mini-metropolis of Asheville that whispered to him.  Man, this town must really have something…

I met him on a darkened street corner after barely missing him at Hi-Wire Brewery (where I hear he got a little tipsy).  I was coming to meet him, but wasn’t quick enough, and that gnome, in his little nomadic nature, is like taping pudding to the wall.  He’ll just slip away without warning and slide into unmarked crevices. 

However, like ships in the night we passed briefly again.  I found him stumbling down a sidewalk fresh off the dance floor at Scandals.  He claims he was only there for Zumba lessons, though I wasn’t sure.  However, I didn’t ask many questions, but  just stretched out my arms.  I knew we had but minutes.  That famous portly creature leapt into my yearning embrace, and for a moment he was mine.  I could smell the history on him like a thick French musk.  His face and body had definitely taken a couple licks through the years, and he was wise to things I have no knowledge of yet.  I felt honored to meet him, and perhaps more honored that he’d been drawn like a moth to a flame to this town.  The magnet that is Asheville, NC, composed of quirk, beer, Southern Charm, beer, cultural diversity, beer, and an unparalleled charisma is now part of the patchwork quilt that makes up the adventures of this world-renown gnome.  Now I think the real crush I have is just on Asheville.  After all, Asheville drew the gnome.

Gnomy nose nuzzles

Gnomy nose nuzzles

 

 




The Grander Roar

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I pulled up to 265 Charlotte Street this past Friday night. I knew a little bit about the building, a little bit about the event, and an even littler bit about the hosting organization. I blushingly admit I was skeptical about the “Diamond Ball.”  I was coming in as an outsider to a soirée thrown by a very reputable league, sponsored by a patriarchal business that has perhaps the strongest back bone in Asheville, even surviving the Great Depression.  The Junior League of Asheville was founded in 1925, and Wick and Greene Jewelers in 1926.  The two have been leaders in the community, often rubbing elbows, and taking charitable journeys together ever since.  I knew I was entering a world of great successes Friday night, but also a world of strong community presences that reach back decades.  Truth be told, I was nervous.  However, I’m always looking for a reason to discover…and to wear a pretty dress, of course, so I went.

The writer in me took in the atmosphere first: the smells, the sounds, the ambiance.  I got the warm fuzzies immediately.  My high heel shoes clicked delightfully against the hardwoods that I knew had experienced history itself traipsing all over them.  I could tell already that this was a building that knew things.  The Manor Inn served as an upscale resort in the early twentieth century during Asheville’s wellness heyday.  Naturally, dwarfed in size by the nearby Grove Park Inn, this building had much to prove…which it did.  Architects from across the country added bits of flavor to the structure that ultimately took on a tudoresque and colonial revivalist feel.  Surrounding cottages followed suit, and so did Asheville.  Buildings all over downtown would idolize such architectural tastes and make for a beautiful “lost generation” stomping ground. 

I felt like I opened the front door to this magical place Friday night and became whisked right into that roaring era that no one can seem to forget.  I was surrounded by newsboy hats, flapper’s dresses, sequined headbands, and vibrant bow ties.  I could hear big band music in the back, but with a fiddle player touting a specific style that reminded me I was in The South indeed. A genuinely-dressed flapper carried the sought after single-carat, 15,000 dollar diamond around for all to admire (donated to be raffled by Wick and Greene Jewelers).  It took about fourteen seconds for me to realize these women could throw a par-tay.

I’m a huge advocate of the idea of “work hard and play hard”.  I think people who give such large amounts of their lives and energies to charity and voluntarism should know how to have a ball, and do so with the community who supports them.  I just wasn’t sold yet.  I wanted to know how I would be received in this prestigious group, and I wanted to get to know these women on a more personal level.  I was by no means trying to hold them under a microscope, yet human nature left me slightly guilty of doing so.

I set out to meet Keri Wilson, the Asheville chapter’s president.  I thought I would have to ask around and seek her out.  I pictured her to be surrounded by important people, finding it difficult to get away.  However, I would soon find out that the bubbly brunette who ushered me in with a smile not even an Oscar winner could fake would turn out to be her.  I’d never gotten such a warm greeting.  She was eager to welcome me in personally, as well as the askasheville organization.  She directed me where to find food and beverages, without forgetting to give Wick and Greene jewelers a chorus of praise for all they’d done. She was the first representation of the Junior League I’d ever encountered and the impression was a breath of fresh air. I wanted to meet more of these women.

junior league asheville diamond ball

 A group of J.L. members with the diamond courtesy of Wick and Greene Jewelers (Keri Wilson, president on far left)

After mingling a bit I came across J.L. member, Melissa Kledis.  This charismatic woman had a huge energy about her that lured me in quickly.  After talking for a few minutes I learned that this Edward Jones advisor, school volunteer, wife, and mother of three was one of the co-chairs of the event.  I had trouble imagining how such an incredibly busy woman had so much stamina left in her, but I realized after talking with her it was because she believed in every single thing she did.  In that ten to fifteen minutes we talked, she spoke passionately about her job, her children, her wonderful husband, the terrific family she had married into (who introduced her to the league), and the tremendous opportunities to serve her community she would not have had without the Junior League.  This woman’s busy schedule truly was her reward, and I could see her wearing it as plainly as the feathers in her hair.  This woman felt empowered by her efforts, but was focused most on empowering others.

melissak  Melissa Kledis and her husband.

By the end of the night I sat thinking in a beautiful wing-backed chair by the door.  I could feel the air conditioning getting fresh with my leg from the antiquated vent beneath me.  I noted the air conditioner had a certain smell, like the one in the house I grew up in, which was coincidentally was built circa 1920.  I felt so at ease now, with the skepticism erased, and a sense of community embracing me.  I’d had a magical night escaping to my favorite era, but the bigger roar came from within the passions of the incredible women I had the pleasure of meeting.  The Junior League’s Mission Statement reads, ” “The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI) is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.”  I found it to be more than accurate.

I will gladly support The Junior League of Asheville in any way I can.  Their current missions have focused on helping those falling below the poverty line, which in today’s economy is far too many.  Most days it is people in need that these women care about becoming important to.  They have been working closely with the Homeward Bound project to put an end to homelessness in the Asheville area.  They have also been cooperating with the ABCCM and Children First organizations.  When the community supports the Junior League at fundraisers like the Diamond Ball they are really supporting the faces they see everyday, and making far-reaching contributions to those who need it most.  These are the fruits of the grander roar these women create every day.

For more information on the Junior League of Asheville, please visit http://www.juniorleagueasheville.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photographing Asheville

Lake Panorama final

Hello from a local photographer! I’m a photojournalism student from UNC Asheville and I couldn’t have picked a better place to study photography. Every so often I will post one of my photos from my work around Asheville. This particular piece – a set of 50 shots from Beaver Lake yesterday evening – is one of my current favorite nature shots. One of the great things about photographing scenic Asheville is the city’s beauty no matter the season. Although we haven’t had the most colorful fall, the beautiful sunsets and gorgeous days (and rainbow this morning, for those who were up early enough to see it) more than make up for it.

Beaver Lake Fall 2013 copy

Beaver Lake, October 2013

-Adrian Etheridge (of ASE Photography)

Western North Carolina Nature Center Visit … A Must!

There are so many fun things to do in Asheville, and only so many hours in a weekend to fit them. If you find yourself looking for a great way to spend a few hours outdoors, may I suggest a trip to the Western North Carolina Nature Center. 

Nestled in the trees off of Azalea Road, The Nature Center is a quiet and peaceful place to look at many of the animals who call the Southern Appalachians their home. They house over “220 animals who represent more than 60 species.”  From snakes and frogs, to wolves and cougars, to bears and otters, it really is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon.     I’ve visited the Nature Center twice in six months with my now three year old.  She doesn’t get bored because she gets to run and jump and look at really cool animals hanging out in their homes.  Our favorite exhibit is the Otter Habitat.  In her words, “Mom, they are so funny!”  

 The Amphibian Room is a really cool place to see the local snakes, turtles, and frogs. This exhibit offers a hands-on experience to feel the animal pelts and view the rocks and tree trunks up close.  

 The North Carolina Farm is a great place to get up close and personal with the farm animals.  The farm includes a section where you can pet the angora goats and sheep.  This area is monitored by a Nature Center employee and there’s plenty of hand sanitizer.  

Just a few tips on preparing for your visit: 

 There are hills. We live in the mountains so this is to be expected, but it is wheelchair friendly.  Parking Lot A is handicap accessible for those who need it.  There are plenty of spots to stop and take in the scenery if hills aren’t your thing.  To parents, I would suggest bringing a stroller. As energetic and excited as my three year old is, she still had spots where she became tired.  The first time I made the trip, I didn’t bring the stroller and I wished I had.  Also, the Nature Center is a great place to pack a lunch.  They

have a picnic area inside the center.  

I hope you enjoy your visit, and also hope you get to hear the white wolf howl!

 

Address: 75 GashesCreek Rd., Asheville, NC 28805,  (828) 259-8080

Hours: Open 7 days a week from 10am – 5pm.

Admission: Adults: $8, Kids (Ages 3-15): $4, Seniors (65+): $7

Website: www.wncnaturecenter.com

 *I took the information of hours and admission from the Nature Center’s website.  I would suggest visiting their website to make sure the prices and hours have not changed.*

  

 

 

Tracy Tanner is a Mom. Artist. Photographer. Lover of all things on and off the beaten path. Retired Roller Derby Queen, lover of Alice in Wonderland & Doctor Who.  http://www.writespeaksee.com

New AskAsheville Website – Welcome To Asheville North Carolina!

Years ago, AskAsheville launched a website that was a community directory with links to many different companies and organizations in the community. In addition to this, social media efforts were added via a Blogger blog and YouTube video website.

After years of planting seed in the Asheville North Carolina community, AskAsheville.com has now re-launched with a new fresh look and with lots of social media portals attached. Lots of work has been put into these links to make sure it shows you the variety and diversity of the Asheville and Western North Carolina area. You can see the colorful social media icons/links on the bottom of every page on the website.

In addition to this, businesses can now list their company for free in the Asheville Business Pages. There are also several other options where you can upgrade for a little as $150 a year and a have a full page with your logo, link to your website, and up to 4 photos of you and your business. There are other upgrade packages that are available. AskAsheville wanted to create affordable community awareness for anyone. Now this is done! Each Asheville and WNC business that lists their company will have a full page with their own direct web address to that page on the AskAsheville website.

AskAsheville has several exposure options available for businesses to consider. Our Asheville QuickLinks now have a premium platform pption for only $79 a year, our page banners are $79 per month, and our featured businesses which are listed on every page are only $149 per month. Please note that our “Featured Businesses” are limited to 30 companies per year so please let us know if you are interested and we will reserve your spot. All of these business exposure options come with a combo 10% discount as well.

Under our AskAsheville featured businesses, we also have a Social Network that we have created on the Ning platform where anyone that is from Asheville or interested in the area can join for free. Also there is an Asheville Home Builders Network where contractors (commercial, residential, or subcontractors) can make a free profile and network with each other, make connections, meet clients, etc. Many capabilities are available including a forum, blog, photo gallery and more.

Asheville is a wonderful community that is growing oh so beautifully. Some call us the little San Francisco or the mini New York City… but we are Asheville North Carolina! We are excited about now and the future to come. Join together with us and become part of our network. Thank you.

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