Monthly Archives: April 2015

My Mothers Hands.

Funny, today I noticed that I in fact have my mothers hands, and I look a lot like her. I know you would think that at 46 I would have thought about this long ago. I think because my mother was 46 when I was 6  I have really clear memories of her at that age. Ironically, I am starting to see her presence in myself. It just started to sink in that the woman whom I call mom is here with me everyday and I am finding great comfort in it.

Veda Lowrey, with children Vernon Lowrey, Becky Lowrey Conda, JoLynn Lowrey Powers, 1976

Veda Lowrey, with children Vernon Lowrey, Becky Lowrey Conda, JoLynn Lowrey Powers, 1976

I am a hands person and any one who knows me very well knows that I can tell a great deal about you from the stories you hands tell. I this case I was slipping on a pair of sandals this morning and really looked at the hands that were putting on my shoes. I stopped, and looked at the short natural nails, the nearly transparent skin, the scratches from working with the bushes and the age spots. “Oh, those age spots”, I thought “Those are my mothers hands not mine.” Those are the hands that I spent 21 years looking at each time she put on her own shoes. The hands that were always so soft and tender. The hands that got covered with scabs in the spring when the roses and other bushes needed trimming. The nails that were never long or painted. The paint was never allowed when you spent most of you time cooking and washing dishes at you very own restaurant. Those hands spent hours mashing up meatloaf and tearing apart salads.

Jolynn Powers hand  working with transplants

JoLynn Powers’ hand working with transplants

As I sat back and started to look even harder, I saw my age spots that looked just like hers. Big round freckles of brown that always get worse in the summer time from working in the yard. None of my friends moms had freckles on their hands and nether did I at 6. I did not like them very much then and I don’t like them now that I have my own.But, this summer it will be different, those spots will remind me of her.

My mother always had rings on her fingers, she worked with them, slept with them, gardened with them and some day will pass them on to me. One is a ring that she had made when my father passed away almost 40 years ago with a mixture of diamonds and another was a gift of a beautiful tigers eye set in gold. The rings should fit as I have reached a size that she was all the years of my youth. But if I wear them,will I cry when she is gone or will looking down and seeing her hands and her rings make my heart fill with joy that she has not really left me at all? That part of her lives on in me.

The blessing is that hands that cradled me as a baby and rocked my own children are still here to show another generation the tenderness that I remember about her hands. That those hands worked at home to teach me how to read and write properly even if I still can’t spell. They made brownies for birthdays and candy for Christmas and even let me eat the cake batter off the beaters. Those hands were strong as steel when they spanked me when I needed it and sometime stung my cheek for being disrespectful. But, they LOVE ME, HELD ME and HUGGED ME when I needed it most.

I am proud to have my mothers hands and a little shocked that I just now noticed them. It seems that they have waited 46 years to remind me of how much influence my mothers hands have had on me. That somewhere in the future maybe someone will remember and say ” she hand her mothers hands” and smile.

Happy Early Mother’s Day Mom. I hope to send you a copy of this in the mail as you do not have a computer and hope that it make you smile. Know that I love and miss seeing you everyday JoLynn.

Veda M Lowrey age 84 Rolla Missouri

Veda M Lowrey age 84 Rolla Missouri

 

 

Categories: About me, childhood memories, Family, family memories, Memories, Mothers Day | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Seeds and Plants from the Seed Savers Exchange: Product Test of Live Transplants.

I am bit behind in writing about the seedlings and plants that we are trying out from the Seed Saver Exchange. I planted 32 (3 plugs are flowers from my mother) plugs of vegetable seeds and all but one sprouted and it is a cabbage seed plug so I am very pleased with the germination of these heirloom seeds. My rate would be in the upper 98%. With using a new company for my garden I wanted to try a few of their transplants to see if the extra price would be worth it in the future. Replacement plants are free of charge or exchanged for seeds. I was hoping to get away with not having to seed start my tomatoes and peppers in the future.

36 seed plugs ready for transplanting... lost a few  seedlings to our new cat.

36 seed plugs ready for transplanting… lost a few seedlings to our new cat.

As I prepared for the transplanting my seedlings, I finally noticed that some on my sprouts looked damaged, from what I had no idea. I discovered after moving the transplants back inside that our new cat may have caused the damage. She seems to like greens and sprouts and has chewed on several and even destroyed one of my house plants that is near her favorite resting spot. I have lost plants to just about everything in the past… dogs digging, rabbits, deer,moles/voles, birds but never in my life to a house cat. At least she seems to like tomatoes the best and I have more than my share of seedlings so this will not effect my garden plan.

I also received my  transplants in the mail just yesterday. The the plants were in plastic pots surrounded in a cardboard tube. Then all four tubes get packed in a bigger box. With a small cardboard shield over the top soil in each tube.  Here is a photo to give you a better idea what I got. The plants get delivered by UPS and left out on our front step. An e-mail message  arrived from the company that the plants were due to arrive that afternoon. They hoped this would prevent them from being frozen or roasted in the boxes . I love that they warn people that they are on the way so I could be looking for them.

Transplant tomatoes arrive from the Seed Saver Exchange

Transplant tomatoes arrive from the Seed Saver Exchange

At this point I had unpacked the plants as  genially as possible but dirt still went everywhere. The shield was off the smallest plant and it was almost up rooted in the tube. This is after I “Fixed” the plant back into the pot. Then as the instructions state  they needed watered ASAP. It was then that I noticed the damage to one of the large Brandy Wine tomato plants the stem had broken off at pot level. I removed the stem and water them all  putting them with the rest of my transplants. In this case they only look about two weeks ahead of mine and the Brandy Wine looks like it is ready to plant but the Amish past is still very frail. I will contact the Exchange about the one broken plant in the tube and the tiny Amish Paste. I want to see if instead of plants I can get Straw Flower seed for my flower box and crook neck squash seeds that my older son wanted in the garden.

As an update over the weekend 4 days from the plants arrival, the one damaged plant and one small plant both died. So my results  were about 50 % and that is not good enough for me. I will not buy transplants again any time soon as they are about 4 dollars a piece and are a lot of trouble to unpack. The plants were not as large as I had hoped even though they look healthy. I will stick with the seeds and start them at home and save myself the money for the plants to buy more plugs in the future. I wonder if they could package them better if they were to fallow some other companies shipping methods for plants. The bare root method would seemingly work here but I am just guessing. Large plastic bag, live plants with bare roots inside a box? I just think even the peat moss plugs that I use would be more stable to ship then plastic pots  with loose dirt and more earth friendly in the long run.

Now it is time to get started with the garden work that will be over the next three weekends. We are tilling up a new space and that will be a lot of work and getting some kind of fence up will take some time to finish so as always I am feeling behind and we have so much going on inside the house. Thank goodness Tom likes having a garden as much as I do and he will chip in his time to till and put the fence up for me. The rest is usually up to me and I think I am up to it as the days get warmer and longer I just feel the need to get in the dirt again.

Just in case the Seed Savers Exchange is hard up for the seeds to replace the plants, I will ask them if they have this seed….. They make me so happy just thinking about them. Happy Gardening from Mountain Mama.

Doughnut seeds

Doughnut seeds

 

Categories: flowers, gardening, Non-GMO, product testing, Seed Savers Exchange, seeds | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Out with Old in with the New, Slate floors.

As part of the barn wood remodel on our family room Tom and I decided that it was best to also replace the flooring in the family room before adding the barn wood to the walls. The wood is thick, 1 inch thick, making the boards stick way out away from our drywall, so changing the flooring after the wood is hung is a little more challenging than doing the floor first and setting the wood on top. So we agreed that gray barn wood would look great with slate tile. Barn wood and slate tile have unpredictable texture and color variations  that makes them work well together. The natural feel of both the wood and stone with my leather furniture should give the room a rustic feel that we hope to slowly bring into the entire house.

So to achieve the new look we took out the old flooring. The house came with a white Berber carpet at one end and a rolled linoleum at the other.It took a whole day to remove the old tile and carpet and the hundreds of staples and nails that were in the old flooring.

Family room carpet end

Family room carpet end

Cody Power stripping old floor tiles

Cody Power stripping old floor tiles

After a much-needed rest Tom began to install the cement board that would be the base for the tile. It is a water-resistant and mold guard product used for bathrooms, kitchens and in this case sticky floors.

Tom installing cement hardy board

Tom installing cement hardy board

The Hardy Board comes in sheets like plywood but much heavier. Each board is a cement  fiber mixture to make it stiff, hard and water-resistant. I could barely lift one board at a time. Tom guesses each board weighs about 25 pounds and is 5 feet long making moving them very inconvenient. So keep in mind that you will not want to move them once you have them home. Mine took up a large portion of my kitchen floor for the two weeks we had to wait for the tile to arrive.

Remodeling supplies hard board, mortar, screws

Remodeling supplies hard board, mortar, screws

Then finally the tile arrived, all 30 boxes and I got to unload it alone. Where do you store them I thought as I drove home from Lowe’s…. In the kitchen with everything else, of course. We are still cooking in the kitchen but eating is getting a little hard at our small 4 person table.

Tile boxes stored in the kitchen behind my french doors

Tile boxes stored in the kitchen behind my french doors

The next thing was to prepare the tile for installation. Slate is a natural stone product and not factory made so it has some funny characteristics.Each tile is different in color, texture and thickness. Some will be close to matching but almost nothing is really the same. When you first open a box you discover the slate is brittle and flaky and the boxes are full of chips of stone and are very dirty from the cutting process. So dirty that you hands will change color in a matter of minutes while handling the tile. So before sealing the tile, to prevent staining to the tile in the future, I washed everyone in the sink with a scrubby to remove any loose flakes and dirt. That is about 300 tiles and about two full afternoons.

slate tile getting a good washing in sink before adding sealer

slate tile getting a good washing in sink before adding sealer

The water really brings out the wonderful colors in the tile and we can glaze the tile after installation if we decide that we want a shiny tile surface. I let the tile dry for about 2 hours and applied the liquid pre-grout sealer. I let the tiles dry for 4 more hours and Tom installed them on the floor.

drying slate tiles

drying slate tiles

He started last night with getting his center of the room measurements and his chalk lines on the floor and setting the corner stones for the floor. Now he will work back to these tiles and fill in around them as time at night allows. We are hoping to have the floor finished this weekend or next and the wood for the walls started by the first week-end in May.The final touches should be finished by the end of June, mostly light fixtures that Tom and I hope to make for this room. One will be a multiple colored mason jar chandelier and a wall mounted fixture that we need desperately over by the computer desk that I hope to also convert to a mason jar globe.

Corner slate tiles set and ready to fill in

Corner slate tiles set and ready to fill in

This is so far my favorite of all projects we have done as a family and I am looking forward to doing more tile in my kitchen. The colors are wonderful and I am so happy with the speed that we are moving forward. I know we still have a lot of work to do, but if all goes this well,I see a slate floor in my kitchen very soon.

I will post a more photos when all the tiles are down and we get the furniture back into this room. I also think I will use some of the broken tiles to make a mosaic top for the old coffee table we had in this room at some point over the summer. We should have enough broken pieces(one whole box is either chipped or damaged  already) and I should have some mortar left over from the floor so it will only cost me some time to make. So in the future I will have two posts about how we are making a mason jar chandler and one on a mosaic tile top for an old table.

I cant wait to see what this room looks like with one cohesive floor and wall covering. Over the years the room was divided and I want to feel that the kitchen and family room are large open rooms that connect in style and function. So “Out with the Old and In with the New” in a couple of summers the house we envision should really start to come together.

Categories: furniture, Home, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, slate tile | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Spring Time in West Virginia means Trout and a trip to Seneca Rocks

Spring is here and our family always tries to head out doors as soon as April arrives. The flowers begin to bloom  and the trout are ready to bite.  We took a break from work on the remodel of our family room because the tile I ordered came in a week late. Yea, Tom and I are thrilled that the three-day Easter weekend that we planed to put the tile in was delayed again. So instead of working on the house Tom, Christopher and I spent the day in the mountains. It was a nice break and the weather was perfect… I am so glad we worked this day into our Easter weekend plans.

Easter blooms at Seneca Rocks State Park

Easter blooms at Seneca Rocks State Park

The trip Tom planed was to hit a new  trout fishing stream in Seneca Rocks area of Pendleton County, West Virginia. The drive was about an 1 hour and 40 minutes from where live and is close to Seneca Rock State Park where we would spend part of the afternoon.The trout fishing in this area of the state is excellent and fishing is good in side the state park but the area is catch and release only. Tom was able to catch 6 nice fish in this rural stream in a matter of about 2 hours. The air was still cold when we arrived and the temp on the dash of my car said 28 degrees so Christopher and I would fish a while and then move out of the shadow of the mountain and play in the sun to warm up.

Sign showing the Eastern Continental divide at the boarder of Randolph and Pendleton Counties

Sign showing the Eastern Continental divide at the border of Randolph and Pendleton Counties

Snow on hill side on Easter near Onego WV

Snow on hill side on Easter near Onego WV

Christopher fishing along a trout stream in Pendleton County West Virginia

Christopher fishing along a trout stream in Pendleton County West Virginia

Tom fishing in a stream in Pendleton County West Virginia

Tom fishing in a stream in Pendleton County West Virginia

 

The sun finally crested over the mountain tops around noon. The sky was cloudless and we headed into town for lunch and to the state park for an afternoon of  hiking through some of the most beautiful rock formations in the state.

 

Advertisement on barn on the way to Seneca Rock... and Lunch

Advertisement on barn on the way to Seneca Rock… and Lunch

Seneca rocks is of our favorite places to just spend the day. They have fun shops that remind you of the 1800’s,  they have camping, horse back riding,and a few restaurants. The place is a lazy country town with out a formal plan and no rush hour and no stop light. It very much reminds me of the small mountains towns I grow up with in Colorado. You can fish, hike and watch the rock climbers in the sun. As you walk from one shop to another you relax as the sheep in the fields graze around you.

Seneca Motors, Seneca. West Virginia

Seneca Motors, Seneca. West Virginia

 

Harper's Old County store

Harper’s Old County store

Country Roads take me home Hwy 55 Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

Country Roads take me home Hwy 55 Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

After lunch and buying some fresh made maple syrup from a county store, we headed to the park where we spent a few minutes at the visitor center and observation deck. The view was fantastic.

Seneca Rocks State Park Easter 2015

Seneca Rocks State Park Easter 2015

Tom and I wanted to get a closer look and spent the remaining part of our afternoon walking the grounds and finally  hiking about half way to the summit of the rocks. There is an observation landing on the far left of the first rise of the rocks. The trip is about a mile and half from the base and about 2 miles from the observation deck

Seneca rocks from the parks visitor center

Seneca rocks from the parks visitor center

Time was too short to reach the observation this time, so this up hill hike will remain on my “to do” list for another year. The trail was also crowded with people. The park had just reopened for the season and the weather was good.

Tom and Christopher on the bridge trail at the base of Seneca Rocks

Tom and Christopher on the bridge trail at the base of Seneca Rocks

We then spent some time looking at the home stead cabin that is part of the park grounds. We visited here back two years ago on our camping trip and I wished that it had been open for visitors this time. Here is what you may find at the home stead during summer hours.

 

Home Stead at Seneca Rocks state Park

Home Stead at Seneca Rocks state Park

Bee Balm outside of cabin

Bee Balm outside of cabin

Wagon wheel at the Home Stead House at Seneca Rocks State Park WV

Wagon wheel at the Home Stead House at Seneca Rocks State Park WV

Porch table at Home Stead Cabin Seneca Rocks State Park

Porch table at Home Stead Cabin Seneca Rocks State Park

The drive home was quite, Tom and Christopher both took naps in the warm sun that shone through the windows.  I was so happy that we were able to take some time and get back in the woods after such a long and cold winter. We will eat the trout for dinner and hope to find some Ramps along the way back home. At this time of year people sell them off the hoods of trucks and cars, 10$ for 5 pounds….. yummy fresh spring foods. I could not wait to get home to my kitchen.

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Easter, family fun, fishing, hiking, Seneca Rocks, State Park activities, trout, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Results are In and I am Not Sure How to Write About It.

As some of you already my Mother In Law was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer last year at this very same time. I was a long road for her with surgery, radiation, and months of recovery time over the summer and fall of last year. Things were looking great back in Nov. She was free from any Cancer and ready to get back to her normal life at her home and enjoying the holidays even if she still was not eating well. This spring things were still looking bright when she just kept telling me she was so tired and run down after a move to a new apartment.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

I think we all just thought that the move had worn her 77-year-old body down and that she would rebound. She was not sleeping well and seemed to have some sort of UTI infection that would not go away. Finally we talked about when she was going to see her Ears, Nose and Throat Specialist again. The appointment was in about ten days and she did not want togo any sooner than need be. So we waited until the appointed date to get her check up and what did they find but that a tumor had returned. Holy Crap! NO NO NO ! Seated there in the chair across from the monitor of her scope, I watched as the scope slowly went through the nose to the throat to the voice box. Their on the wall of her throat,just above her voice box sat a lumpy mass of almost white speckled tissue shaped like a Lima bean. The Dr looked me in the eye and said “This does not look good” and I knew then and their the situation of her recovery was over.

The Dr went on to let us know that we needed to plan for a CT scan of her neck and a biopsy of the tumor. As we sat in the office getting those appointment made a nursed asked if she would like to just get the pre-operation testing done this day and not have to drive the 1:30 back the following day. She agreed and we spent a few more hours getting blood drawn, a chest x-ray and EKG done to make sure all was well for her Biopsy.

Well the results showed a spot on her lungs, and the CT scan was then cancelled as they now wanted to get a full PET scan with the Biopsy. Her Daughter and Son spent two days with her while all the tests got finished, a long couple of days of driving and waiting for everyone.

Well the results are in and it is not what anyone every wanted to hear, the Cancer is back, it has also moved to the lungs. Disappointment fills my heart to over flowing. The families hopes are devastated. The dreaded cancer is back and now spreading. With Wanda reaching her life time limit of radiation treatments it looks as though the main treatment now will be Chemo Therapy. What kind and if their will be surgery to combat the lung issue is still up of discussion. The next couple of months will be more trips to seem more Dr’s  and Surgeons. Then a trip to see a panel of Doctors who review her treatment plan. Then a time for prayer….and reflections for Grandma.

At 77 she has total control of her mind and body and this comes as a major set back for her. She has expressed that she is ready to met her “Lord and Savor”, “that it is His plan that we all fallow” and that she will need time to pray about her future choices.

Many times while driving Grandma to do weekly chores, I have witnessed her strength, courage and love. She never complains, she never shy’s away from the pain she experiences. She never blames God for the situation. She instead glorifies what she believes by witnessing to everyone around her. Grandma says to every person she talks to that “This is not the end, but only the beginning.” ” That life here on earth is really the hard part, that death is finally freedom from pain and suffering”. She glows with knowing that her freedom is real and that she has time to remind people that death is only a simple transition from body to spirit and nothing more.

It is in my saddest moments that I think of what she has allowed me to share in. Much like the movie ” Driving Miss Daisy” I am not the real person in charge in our relationship, she is. I am a humble driver, medication giver, house keeper, that is her friend and family. I would not say that I am in any way  religious, I have to many misgivings about any group doctrine. But I am a deeply spiritual person, that knows what she says is true. With her kind and loving wisdom she has brought comfort to hundreds of people across our area. She reminds them to “Trust in a power greater than ourselves and know that we are not alone”. That statement gives me and hundreds of others the comfort we need to get through another day with Cancer.

photo clip from the movie Driving Miss Daisy

photo clip from the movie Driving Miss Daisy

Categories: Cancer, cancer treatment, Family, grandma, health | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Shelter Adoption and A New Friend for Christopher

It has been 5 of years since we have had a cat and It has been even longer ( 20 years) since we have had a house cat. On the farm outdoor cats are good because they do a nice job of keeping mice out of the barn. Mice chew the baling twine that keeps bales of hay together making every cat a welcome guest if you want nice rows of hay all winter. But house cats are usually a luxury on a farm. They really serve no purpose other than companionship and that is usually the dogs roll beyond the other jobs they perform. So when we moved off the farm and into a subdivision we  had no inside animals at all, a cat seemed like a perfect choice for Christopher. We still have our bunnies but this pet can sleep and play with Christopher now that Tom is away more these days.

Jinn and Bear Bear at the Animal Shleter

Jinn and Bear Bear at the Animal shelter

I spent off and on about two months looking at different ideas about what kind of cat to get and where to get it from. Not a surprise to my husband,that I always seemed to come back to the idea of adoption of an unwanted pet. I could have gotten Christopher a kitten or a fancy pure bred but the cost was high and I really didn’t want a tiny baby that Christopher would not be able to care for on his own. I am hoping that having a cat will teach some responsibility lessons to him also.

So I found myself looking again and again at kittens on the local animal shelter sites. So the weekend that Tom had to leave town he said it would be fine to go look at cats at the shelter and we found that perfect kitty for Christopher. The front one in the photo is the one Christopher choose from about 10 cats and kittens that day. She is soooo friendly and curious.After School Jinn and Christpher

So over the next day I got supplies and food for a nice female Domestic Short hair that Christopher named Jinn or Jinni depending on the day.  He was so excited when he got home from school to find her waiting for him. If I did not know better, I would have thought that this cat had another “boy” at her old home. Their interaction was amazing to watch. It was as if she had not seen him in days and wanted nothing more than to spend time with her long-lost “boy”. She would not leave his side from the minute he got home to the time he went to bed. She loves him and he loves her and they seem to bring out the best in each other.

Jinn on my sofa pillow

Jinn on my sofa pillow

Jinn just turned a year old on St Patrick’s day  so she is still very young and playful. She reminds me of my child hood cat who I had the pleasure of spending 13 long years with at my child hood home.

We all have had a pet in our lives that we loved, mine was a tiny long-haired tabby cat, named Princess. She was loyal and loving through every stage of my young life and I can only hope that Jinn can give Christopher the same experience of love I got when I was 6 and my mother brought home my first kitten.My husband has the same feeling about a farm Collie that he named King. He lived 15 wonderful years on the farm and was my husbands best friend.

Do any of you have pet memories that have lasted a life time? Were they with Dogs, Cats or other pets? Let me know I would love to write more about our pet memories one day.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Categories: cats and kittens, childhood memories, Christopher | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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