Buzzworm news briefs

Paving the way for pets

Patricia Paravalos
All aboard: From left to right, Patricia Paravalos, with dog Penny and grandson Danny Stinson, and Patricia Norman with Molly. photo by Rebecca Bowe

Patricia Norman moved to Asheville’s Battery Park Apartments 18 months ago, accompanied by Molly, her 5-year-old Yorkshire terrier.

A former resident of public-transit-savvy New York City, Norman says she was “horrified” to find that, as a person without a car, she wasn’t able to travel about with her constant companion to visit friends, parks or Molly’s vet.

So she began a campaign to add a new dimension to the Asheville Transit System’s rules, and she has achieved at least temporary success.

“I was turned down two times,” Norman says of her initial attempts to make room for the Mollies of this town. Then she called for help from the animal-minded folks at the Mimi Paige Foundation and the Asheville Humane Society, who supported the idea. She also wrote to enlist the support of Asheville City Council.

“I want to thank Mayor Bellamy, [Council member] Robin Cape and [City Manager] Gary Jackson,” Norman says, determined to share the credit. “They were the only three [city officials] to get back to me.”

She soon won the ear of Asheville Transit Services, and a 90-day trial program was set up beginning last month to allow the transport of carrier-contained small dogs or cats on the city’s buses.

“So far it’s been going well,” Transit Planner Jeff Burns reports. “We’ve gotten some positive and negative feedback — allergies and those kinds of concerns.” In order to evaluate the prospects for the program’s future, ATS wants to hear from riders, and as the new signs on the buses say, comments should be directed to James Garner, transit projects planner, at 251-4065.

Norman’s feedback is all positive: “I can go to the parks. I can go to Black Mountain. It enables me to go up to Lake Tomahawk. I can take [Molly] to the vet on Hendersonville Road. It just gives me freedom.” It also means, she adds, that she’s free to accept invitations from friends without having to ask them to pick her and Molly up.

She thinks a lot of other older people are in the same boat — or bus — when it comes to needing this form of transportion flexibility. In hopes of seeing the program continue, she’s forceful in advocating for abiding by the rules.

“We really want to accommodate everyone we can, without infringing [on others],” Burns says. So for those who want to take advantage of this opportunity, here are the general rules:

• Small pets only (dogs or cats) in suitable carriers.
• One pet per carrier.
• Pet must remain inside carrier at all times.
• Carrier must not obstruct aisles or other passengers (must fit on lap).
• Person with carrier is responsible for “sanitation.”
• Driver is the sole judge of animals’ qualifications for transport and cannot waive rules.

For additional information on the trial program or for bus schedules and routing, call ATS at 253-5691. To provide feedback on the pet-transport program, call 251-4065.

— Nelda Holder

Beyond the velvet rope

You may not have the time or inclination to get over to the Biltmore Estate this summer, but fugeddaboudit — the decade’s biggest unveiling at the Southern chateau will visit your own living room in August, courtesy of public television.

Through the years, a good portion of the estate’s fourth floor has remained off-limits to visitors, but recently, six “new” rooms, including three maid’s bedrooms, the Servants’ Hall, the Architectural Model Room and the Observatory were made accessible, all restored and ready for the public’s gaze.

Tube jockeys can tour the rooms without rising from their Barcaloungers during an all-new episode of the program Our State, produced by the selfsame magazine in conjunction with UNC-TV.

If the Biltmore doesn’t float your boat, the show will also follow North Carolina author and Red Clay Ramblers alumnus Bland Simpson as he travels down the mighty French Broad River. Finally, the video magazine throws a bone to the rest of the state with a visit to the newly renovated N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, with its otters, faux buried treasure and hungry sharks.

Prime-time showings public television (Charter cable channel 8) include Thursday, Aug. 3, at 9:30 P.M. and Sunday, Aug. 20, at 10:30 P.M. For a full schedule of other offerings, visit www.unctv.org.

— Kent Priestley

The earth moves

Largely as a result of the hurricane rains that inundated Western North Carolina in 2004, there were some 120 landslides in the region, claiming five lives and destroying 27 homes. These landslides occurred both on natural slopes and in areas impacted by development.

To help educate home builders and homeowners, the Madison County of the Western North Carolina Alliance will host a free presentation by the North Carolina Geological Survey on the hazards of landslides and how to avoid building on landslide-prone sites. The event will be held Thursday, Aug. 10, at A-B Tech’s Madison County campus in Marshall, starting at 7 p.m.

The presentation will describe landslide-hazard mapping in North Carolina, which has been expanded since hurricanes Frances and Ivan delivered their one-two punch two years ago. Hazard mapping helps both local governments and members of the public gauge the risk associated with specific sites. In North Carolina, landslides are most common in the western region because of the mountainous terrain. “In Madison County — which is seeing much new development that is not regulated by slope ordinances — [the land] is especially steep,” an Alliance press release notes.

The presentation will include illustrations of past slope movements and examples of warning signs — such as tension cracks and curved trees — that homeowners can use to assess the potential for future landslides.

For more information, call 258-8737 or e-mail info@wnca.org.

— Cecil Bothwell

Is that a banana in your pocketbook, or …

Angela Montgomery
Sweet spot: Angela Montgomery, owner of The Ineffable Woman. photo by Kent Priestley

If you think the appearance of the word “dildo” on this page signals a precipitate and wholly modern slouch toward Sodom, consider this: The word comes to us not from the hippies or Helen Gurley Brown but instead from the 16th century and the reign of Elizabeth I.

The objects themselves date at least as far back as the upper Paleolithic period (circa 10,000 B.C.). Archaeologists have unearthed polished stone rods that suggest nothing so much as penises, an indication that Mrs. Ug-Ug was up to more in her spare time than swapping mastodon recipes with the lady next door.

Thankfully, sex toys have gotten more sophisticated since the last ice age. More recently, they’ve even gained a pinch of acceptance as tools for enhancing intimacy, regardless of one’s sexual preferences. The growth of online shopping is one reason for this shift from fringe to mainstream; people who wouldn’t be caught dead in a traditional “sex shop” can now have their delights drop shipped to their front stoop, with no one the wiser.

Still, it helps to get a firsthand look at what you’re getting, and it helps to not feel like a creep while getting it. The owner and employees of The Ineffable Woman, a boutique at 6 Walnut St. in Asheville, take a decidedly soft-sell approach to the art of stimulation, appropriate to the tender parts of the body their products serve.

Promoting comfort, openness and educated choice regarding sexual matters has been a mission for owner Angela Montgomery since the place opened last December. Appearances go a long way in service of Montgomery’s cause — the boutique’s decor includes fine art, a burbling water feature or two, a stone Cupid’s head and a vase spilling over with fresh-cut sunflowers and snapdragons. It hardly raises a blush.

Montgomery sells lubricants, massage oils and tasteful bondage tools, including suede whips shaped like hands. There are tiny pumps sized to fit over one’s nipples. “Erectile tissue loses sensitivity as we age,” Montgomery explains. “We try to wake that up a bit.”

There are glass dildos and plastic dildos and vibrators in a diversity of shapes. Most are somewhat representative; others are pure whimsy, like the lime-green model that favors the children’s book character Lowly Worm. (The worm is smiling, and who can blame him?)

Another vibrator, molded to look like a cartoon mole clutching a daisy, is called “Dinky Digger.” A yard-long specimen on the shelf below, labeled “dual vibrating flexi-dong,” looks slightly more advanced.

“I just want women to feel sexy, no matter what their age or shape,” Montgomery says. “I’ve had women in their 60s come in here looking for products, and I’m like, ‘You go, girl.'”

Many of the items for sale have value beyond their sexual application, like exercise devices that help women tone their pelvic muscles and tame incontinence, a challenge of aging.

Montgomery has a musical drawl to her voice and welcoming brown eyes and seems exactly the sort of person one might feel comfortable talking about G-spots with, or, for that matter, loss of bladder control.

“There is just so much sexual dysfunction in our culture,” she says. “I’m really adamant about improving monogamous relationships. All of this is a way of people opening up to each other, of bringing couples closer together.”

The first Friday of each month is “Girl’s Night Out” at The Ineffable Woman. The wine-and-cheese events begin at 7 p.m., are catered by the Grove Corner Market, and give customers a chance to learn more about the store’s products and talk among themselves. Men are quite welcome. Call 255-6300 or visit www.theineffablewoman.com for more information.

— Kent Priestley

Asheville’s many faces

Walk around some parts of Asheville, and you might get the impression that the folks who live here are a pretty homogeneous bunch.

The Center for Diversity Education, a local nonprofit based at UNCA, stands ready to dispel that notion. One of the best ways to see Asheville’s rich variety of cultures, the CDE contends, is to look it in the face — or faces, to be precise.

Toward that end, the center sponsors an annual outing called “The Many Faces of Asheville Tour.” The next one takes place on Wednesday, Aug. 9, from 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event begins in the parking lot of the Asheville City Schools Central Office (85 Mountain St.). Park walking tour, part bus trip, the tour will cover such diverse locales as African-American communities downtown, Stephens-Lee Recreation Center, Beth Ha Tephila Synagogue, the Basilica of St. Lawrence, Southside Cemetery and the Islamic Center. It’s a fast-paced itinerary that’s sure to work up an appetite, so lunch at El Chapala is also on the schedule.

Anyone over 12 is welcome to participate in the tour; the $30 fee ($25 for teachers) includes the cost of lunch. For more information, and to register, call the CDE at 232-5024.

— Jon Elliston

Canton labors on

Canton has seen its share of hard times since 1906. In 1940, two severe floods tore through the town within 17 days of each another, claiming two lives and inflicting major property damage. In September of 2004, another set of hurricane-spawned floods wreaked havoc on the Haywood County town, destroying homes and businesses and swallowing up crop yields. The 2004 disaster left a $90 million economic toll in its wake.

Nevertheless, as Canton’s 100th annual Labor Day celebration nears, resilience is the underlying theme of a month-long series of events planned to commemorate the town’s history. Beginning Aug. 3 and leading up its the Sept. 4 Labor Day Parade, Canton will don its best and come alive with some old-fashioned fun.

“Canton is an Americana town through and through,” says Leesa Brandon, heritage-development officer at the N.C. Department of Commerce. That’s evident in the Labor Day-event lineup, which brings to mind scenes from the Andy Griffith Show. During the coming month, Canton will host its annual Miss Labor Day Pageant, a softball tournament, a car show, a mayor and alderman’s ball and even a tomato-harvest festival.

But the real draw is an Americana concert series, with singer/songwriter Kate Campbell headlining with an Aug. 3 performance. “Her body of work speaks so much to small-town, Southern working people,” says Brandon. Other musical acts include Grammy-winners Tim O’Brien and David Holt, as well as the Whitewater Bluegrass Company.

A literary and drama series will take the stage alongside the musical acts. Author George Loveland will read excerpts from his book Under the Worker’s Caps, which details the worker buyout of the town’s paper mill — Haywood County’s largest industry — in the mid-’90s. North Carolina’s Poet Laureate Kay Byer will also showcase her work, and award-winning actress Barbara Bates Smith will perform her one-woman show entitled Ivy Rowe.

For a full schedule of events, visit www.cantonnc.com.

— Rebecca Bowe

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