Posts Tagged With: family

Visting with Ghosts (1650 miles from WV to CO and back)

My trip home to attend my mother’s internment in my home town of Boulder Co. was like no other trip I have ever made. Returning to the mountains in Colorado, I not only said goodbye to someone I loved, but I spent much of my time revisiting childhood friends and reliving memories. I am not sure if everyone goes through similar feelings of joy and comfort when they experience a lifetime of memories and nostalgia but this trip was about visiting with the ghosts of my past and those of Colorado’s wild west history.

I am lucky to have found a man who also enjoys the history of the west, folk tails, museums, old houses, cemeteries and old friends. This trip was planned to incorporate visits to “Doc” Holiday’s, Kid Cassidy’s, Buffalo Bill’s, My Ex-inlaws and my mother and father’s graves and cemeteries. We road historic railways, we became silver miners for a day, we hiked to cemeteries, we toured historic homes, eat spicy Mexican food and laughed at stories of our youth. Several times I felt that we were in a movie about growing up in the 1980s when the only music on the radio was from my generation and faces from high school filled a table at a local pub.

Tom and I Colorado River

Tom and I resting on the shore of the Colorado River, Glenwood Springs, Co.

Somewhere between the kind words said about my mother at a toast in her honor, I floated away to a quiet place of sweetness and memories. A happy place where she was healthy, young and had a huge smile on her face. I like that image of her best, smiling and hugging me. Her ghost was there at the table with us, she was finally part of the parties that I was always going to in high school. She was the honored guest this time and took time to lean over each guest to let them know that they were always welcome to visit her as she played hostess like she always did in our home. Her ghost was happy and free and that night and so was I. The evening turned into a beautiful blending of the past and the present I will never forget how much love I felt in that pub that night! Thank you to everyone who took the time to come and those who sent well wishes during this challenging time.

Friends at Mikeoshea's

Some of my high school family. We are missing a few faces in the photo but I have never felt better about who I have called my friends over the years.

Memories and ghosts were tangible at the cemetery the next day. I looked for and found the family plots of my first husband, my aunt, uncle, and other extended family members all buried within yards of my parents.  It was nice to settle a debt that I had owed to them for the years that they all supported me through youth. It was wonderful to say thank you and place flowers and stones on their graves. Even the memories of my first marriage had less sting and more forgiveness for things that were never in my control. I said a prayer of peace to the crowd of ghosts that sounded me and the funeral of my mother. I knew I was surrounded by the love of my family and friends.

Family together at hotel

The Lowrey clan gathered together after my Mother’s internment.

During the service, my family joined together to say some wonderful things about my mom. We all shared memories of things we remembered about her. We placed things in her cremation box that meant something to us and sent her remains into the ground covered in her favorite flower, the yellow rose. It was not hard to let her go, it was the very best send off a woman who was trapped in a broken body tortured by Alzheimer’s could get. The relief we all felt about her transfiguration spilled into joy, laughter, and sweet storytelling.  It was the perfect afternoon with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild. We chatted as her spirit looked over our shoulders at photo albums and scrapbooks, she held her great-grandson on her lap and enjoyed his laughter. I even think I heard her laugh out loud at one of my brother’s corny jokes.  I hated to see her fade away as we walked to our truck after the gathering. With armloads of memories stuffed in overfull boxes, I stopped to say goodbye to my family. Fully knowing that the matriarch of my family, the roots, that kept us together, was gone and we could possibly scatter like leaves in the wind. I felt something shift and knew that I wanted to be sure that did not happen. She had worked too hard to watch the family get distant.

The following day we traveled to Georgetown Co. in search of silver mines and train rides. The day was full of historical adventures, Christopher got to spend time on the Georgetown Loop train and take an extended tour in the Lebanon Silver Mine. The Georgetown Loop was completed in 1884 as a way for miners and their cargo to move up and down the 2 miles of steep incline between Georgetown and Silverplume Co. In the end, the train travels 3 miles of track to reach its final destination only 2 miles away, with a short trip around the loop over the canyon and Clear Creek river. In between the two depots, there are two historic silver mines that visitors can tour to learn more about the lives of miners at the turn of the century. So this was a welcome cool spot on a 99-degree day in Denver.

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Georgetown Loop Train

High bridge of Georgetown loop

The high bridge over clear creek river Georgetown Co

We even learned about Tommyknockers and Dragon’s Blood, which were often found in mines.  Tommyknockers may very well be the spirits of dead miners looking out for living miners with their tricks. Christopher believes he heard one on our tour… poping and cracking the roof of the silver mine. We also found what miners called Dragons Blood. Where silver ore tarnishes and leaches through the walls. It is said that if you fallow the Dragon’s Blood it would lead you to his guarded treasure. In fact, the myth is somewhat true because often where there was silver tarnish leaking through the walls you would find a silver seam in the mine. It also meant that you might pay with your life if you tried to take the Dragon’s Treasure.

We also learned the average life expectancy of a silver miner in Colorado in the late 1890s was 36 years old….Let that one sink in for a minute…. My husband would have been dead almost 20 years by now. Leaving many woman widows before they even turned 40. What sad dark lives the Welsh immigrants lived to come to American and start a new life for their children.

That evening and the next two days we spent in Glenwood Springs, Co. hunting down the grave and museum of “Doc” Holliday my favorite dentist, gunman, and gambler. It was a nice hike to the Linwood Cemetery averaging about and 1 and 1/4 miles all uphill. ( I thought I was going to die, not enough oxygen at about 5,800 ft above sea level).  With beautiful views of the town of Glenwood Springs and the Colorado River. The cemetery is old for Colorado standards many of the graves are from the late 1800s and many are miners. TheDoc Holliday’s gravesite is covered with coins, cards, cigars, and roses, making a testament to his popularity even today.

The only disappointment was the paid entry to what is called the Doc Holliday museum. With only one item that might have belonged to him (a derringer pistol), it was not worth the $5 dollars to see in my opinion. The rest of the room in filled with other information and items from the same time period. So we did read new articles written about him and see other guns from the time period but sadly nothing that really struck me as impressive.

While in town we did stop at a local history museum in a 1905 downtown home. We enjoyed looking at the antiques from the turn of the century and learning about local history. The Frontier History Museum of Glenwood Springs has a wonderful collection of items including one of President Teddy Roosevelt’s saddles that he used bear hunting in Colorado.

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Christopher and Tom look at the gravesite of William F Cody AKA Buffalo Bill. 

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Close up of grave of Buffalo Bill Cody

 

Then we headed to Golden Co. to visit with longtime friends and to see the gravesite of Buffalo Bill Cody and his museum. The collection of items here is huge and very complete for the same $5 dollars you get ten times the exhibits and information then at the Doc Holliday Museum. You also can walk to a Jefferson County Nature Center and visit the Boettcher Mansion. A 1917  Craftsman/ Tudor style home that is often open to the public and free. Where they rent the building for weddings and other large events.

The gravesite of William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) is on the top of Lookout Mountain in Golden, Co. It allows you a wide panorama view of not only Golden and Denver, but East into the grasslands of Colorado, and West to the peaks of Breckenridge and others ( my camera freaked out and I lost all the shots I took from the observation area of Lookout Mountain). The grave is part of a large poured cement patio with a grave covered in raw white quartz. Very traditional in the area to decorate an ugly cement topped graves with local stone and a granite headstone. My grandmothers’ cemetery has a couple graves marked this way. Buffalo Bill’s grave is usually covered in coins, most often a buffalo nickel. We added nickels without buffalos and a penny to the collection saying a prayer for Buffalo Bill and the cities of Boulder and Denver and those that surround the mountain for peace and prosperity.

By the end of our trip up Lookout Mountain, it was time to meet up with a friend for lunch. The amount of traffic and regional construction change made me wonder if I had ever lived in Golden at all. I was lost and thought we would never find our restaurant. Finally finding the El Amigo restaurant, I fell back into a time and place of wondering through memories and felt at ease. Laughter came easy and the warmth of my friend made me relax. I had worried that somehow I would be judged after all these years. I was in some way still being the scared high school girl that I had left behind 3 decades ago. The discovery was that I was not being judged at all but again supported in my dreams and passions was the most comforting thing I have ever experienced.

Nick and I

Nick Plumber and I out to lunch and sharing stories. 

I put to rest, so many worries, fears, and uncertainties, on this trip that I know that I will never be the same. I am better for knowing each and everyone one of my high school friends. I am healthier because I have a wonderful family, who supported me on this adventure of healing. I am stronger for letting go of the people and things I don’t need anymore. I am freer because I have finally become the person I worked for all these years to become.

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Jolynn Powers in front of a huge sagebrush plant. Glenwood Springs Co. 

So when I am asked if It was hard and sad to go home for my mother’s funeral I have to honestly say “NO!, it was a wonderful time. It was the best gift she has ever given me and I am so happy she is free!” I just wait for the confused look on the face of people who do not understand that I like visiting with ghosts and smile broadly.

 

Categories: About me, ageing, Buffalo Bill, Change, Christopher, Death, Doc Holliday, Family, family memories, Healing, historic locations, Home, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Veteran friendly 4th of July Traditions

In 28 years of marriage, my husband has never attended a fireworks display. I have taken the boys to the events alone and have enjoyed spending many holidays with my older son, his wife and my Granddaughter. With my husband staying home alone. I have often wanted to share the day and festivities with him also, but the noise and crowds are too much for my Persian Gulf War Vet.  He never complains about skipping some family events and I never pressure him. I understand that staying home is better for him then feeling stressed, but this year that all changed for the better.

On a whim, I bought Asian Sky Lanterns thinking that the kids could enjoy taking them out to the local lake over the holiday weekend and send them off into the sky. I had no idea how much fun and joy a paper lantern would bring to my husband, me and the little ones. It was a simple moment of peace, quiet and beauty that my husband could enjoy.

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Paige, Christopher, and Tom filling lanterns with hot air.

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Christopher watching his released lanterns.

These lanterns are rather large and take several minutes to fill completely up with hot air so they will float away. These were easy to light and there is no frame inside the lanterns. The lanterns are made from tissue paper and cardboard so this does increase the risk that someone would either get burnt or the lantern would catch on fire. We did lose one to fire and we just tossed it in the trash on the way home. They are not expensive I paid $3.00 each for the 4 lanterns. When doing further research you can get around 12 small lanterns for about $10.00 dollars and large ones for 6 for $8.oo dollars. Much cheaper than the 40 or more dollars I have spent on sparklers and snakes in the past.

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Sending messages to the heavens.

It was a wonderful sight to see my husband helping the little ones get the lanterns lit and filled with hot air. Then as they ballooned out with hot air he helped them launch them over the water. Within a minute or two they would rise and float to the ridge top before slowly floating back down onto the water in a very quiet, peaceful way. After the tissue paper gets wet it will deteriorate and the fuel is burnt away and sits on a small cardboard square that is burnt up when the lantern falls from the sky.

As we loaded everyone back in the truck and headed to get ice cream my husband asked if we could do it again with smaller lanterns. I was pleased that he had enjoyed himself and the kids loved it. It was a perfect way to end our 4th of July and be able to have my husband be part of the events. I feel like this is a great option for families that have sound sensitive children or adults. It is pretty and colorful without the crowds or noise. With adult supervision, this is a  great way for families to spend time together and included everyone.

So I hope whatever you did for the 4th of July holiday, I hope you spent it with friends, family and made wonderful memories. We now have a new family tradition that we can share on holidays and while camping if we want to. It was so wonderful for me to find a way to include my husband in our celebration. Happy Independence Day!

 

Categories: 4th of July, Asian Lantern, family fun, family memories, Uncategorized, veterans | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Holidays Without Our Parents

So,every adult child has to go through this at least once and some of us have to face it 4 or more times if you are married. It is the day you realize that you will not have a Mother or Father around for the holidays.That you are grown up and you have lost the one or two people in your life that you look up too.  This is the first full year after losing my Mother In Law and one of many years since Tom and I have both lost fathers. The Holidays feel different without them and we feel that we have lost the key to our holiday celebrations.

I think I was in shock last Thanksgiving.I do not even remember what we eat and even if we did  eat… some how I just blanked it all out from Oct 22nd to New Years day. I remember the tree and the kids opening gifts and making breakfast for my family but not much more. I was a stay at home mom then… what did I do for three months??

It seems that this fall the reminder of the loss is tangible. It is harder this year, I can’t call up and ask a questions about how to make stuffing, from the father who has been gone 25 years. The holiday craft making for Sunday School kids is just a distant memory. Christmas cookies and candy over flowing from my mother’s kitchen is no more and I wonder how we will continue as adults. Children suffer deeply with the loss of a grandparent or step grandparent,but I wonder if they feel the loss as long as the adults.The pain lingers for years as we share dinners, gifts and reminders that the person is gone. They are not replaced by thoughts of a new toy,an exciting movie or by the first boy friend or girl friend.

The reply to my heart-break most often is “make  your own memories and traditions” share them with the children. The logic seems to work until you realize how many of us do not have children or have only one.The family dynamic has changed and we don’t always have younger siblings or children share the traditions with.

In my case shopping at the mall is nothing compared to the years I spent making cookies with my mother in our kitchen.Tom still misses opening day of deer season with his Dad and Thanksgiving is not the same without having everyone together for dinner at his parents house. My husband and I still continue to share both of those traditions with our own children and try to pass down those memories to them so nothing is lost.

It is tough doing “Adult”sometimes.I guess we keep moving forward the best we can and at times just fall apart when we finally realize that times change and we can’t stop them.Loss is part of living and being a grown up is all we can do. As Dory says” Just Keep Swimming”.

I am finding it hard to be excited for the Holidays this year,even with the little ones around. I will do my best to make our home warm and inviting and we will have friends and family here.The kids will spend time together and we will eat well. But in my heart there will still be an empty chair at our table. I will spend a few minutes remembering and giving thanks for those we have been lucky to know and love,but Thanksgiving is going to be tough this year. empty-chair-at-thanksgiving

 

Categories: About me, childhood memories, Colorado, Family, grandma, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

I am Thankful for Pumpkin Pie!

I know, I am late…. Thanksgiving day is usually a very quite and reflective time for me. The boys hunt and I cook and everyone gets together for dinner around 5:30 and we spend the rest of the evening watching the little ones play and  talk shop. So I usually have the day to myself, and Tom the turkey, but some how this year it just did not happen. One reason was the new bread maker that I received as a birthday present earlier this month.  I will be posting what I made yesterday once I have mastered ” dinner rolls”  they tasted great but looked a little funny.

So, like most people I just ran out of time to share that I am thankful for Pumpkin Pie. 

Yes, I know it sounds a little childish but pumpkin pie is really what I was thankful for this year and I will tell you why.

It all started with a my husband Tom… He really is my hero in life and on my Barnwood Builder episode. He helped me till a small garden at the other house that we were living in last summer. In that garden Tom and Christopher help me plant 3 pumpkin seeds. From those seeds grew 13 pumpkins, I think, if I can remember correctly.

Wagon full of sliver moon pumpkins 2014

Wagon full of sliver moon pumpkins 2014

Christopher and Cody picking pumpkins and Paige on the way with the wagon

Christopher and Cody picking pumpkins and Paige on the way with the wagon

Then after a long summer I was so thankful that Cody my older son and my granddaughter Paige and daughter-in-law Jamie were able to come help us harvest everything in the garden including the pumpkins. It took hours to bring in everything that grow well that year. We had sweet potatoes to dig, pumpkins to pull and tomatoes and peppers every where. The baskets were full,the wagon was full and I had a lot of work getting these pumpkins ready to eat.

Home grown white pumpkin carved for Halloween 2014

Home grown white pumpkin carved for Halloween 2014

I aged the pumpkins in the cool of our porch until Halloween came. I had my foot surgery just days before Halloween and I was off my feet when the holiday rolled in.  Again Tom help me out with the most important Halloween tradition of  carving at least one of our pumpkins.  Christopher and Tom spent one evening craving a couple of pumpkins and decorating the porch with them. I was so Thankful to see them and see the smiling face on my little Christopher’s face when he lighted them up.

bowel of pumpkin pie filling made in 2014

bowel of pumpkin pie filling made in 2014

From the rest of the pumpkins I made pie filling. So in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving I cooked and canned most of those pumpkins. The house smelled wonderful for days as I roasted on the first day and pureed the next. Finally I cooked and added spices to the mixture and put it in the jars with love. Thankful that Christopher had a school to go to and Tom had a job to work at, as the huge mess in my kitchen grew. 2 days and 6 hours later the jars sealed and I have jars of home-made pumpkin pie filling.

New House in Buckhannon, WV

New House in Buckhannon, WV

Then after moving our family over the long cold winter,we  stared working on the house.  I am so thankful for our new home. This was my first Thanksgiving in my new to me kitchen and the first time I drug out the good dishes and glasses in years. It was a wonderful reason to take out a jar of that pumpkin pie filling and make a pie to celebrate.

home made pies pumpkin and mock mincemeat

home-made pies pumpkin and mock mincemeat

Finally, I am thankful for every person who sat at my table, for every opportunity I have to spend time with them. I am thankful for those who are missing this year and the ones that are in heaven. I am thankful for the money to buy the meal we ate and most of all I am thankful for pumpkins and pies.

4 generations of the Powers family together for Tom birthday 2014

4 generations of the Powers family together for Tom birthday 2014.

Categories: Buckhannon West Virginia, canning, Christopher, Cody, Country life, foot surgery, gardening, Paige, pumkin puree', pumpkin, pumpkins, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Emotionally Drained and Ready for Change

The Month of November has really hit my family hard. It has brought us through a whirl wind of emotions and challenges and changes. The days have blown by with funeral activities and children’s parties. With our time spent comforting grieving family and friends,followed by happy school children in costumes, and a sick body fighting a cold. I spent my 47 birthday watching the episode of Barnwood builders that I helped to create holding my breath. Trying not to cry at the wrinkles and lines on my face and the heavy body that I still have not dealt with after my foot surgery. I have felt the deepest most satisfying happiness and the most painful sadness, all in a matter of days…and I am tired.

Christopher and Paige Halloween 2015

Christopher and Paige Halloween 2015

Most of you already know that over  a year ago I quit my outside job and went home to take care of Grandma Powers around July of last year. I then followed that with a foot surgery to remove a bone that would not heal after 13 months in a cast. We then moved over Christmas and started a remodel project in the end of April and spent days filming with the Barnwood builders. Then we also got the news that Grandma’s cancer was back and things looked bleak for the future. We finished our remodel and the filming of our show in Aug of this year and watched as grandma’s health began to fail, knowing that we would only have a few months with her. Then as Nov came and went we lost Grandma… I was supposed to celebrate Halloween ( my favorite holiday) With little Christopher at his school with a party and Saturday night take him trick or treating…I just could not do it. With a cold and broken heart I just wanted the comfort of my home and time with Tom. We  handed out candy and enjoyed the beautiful night air on the porch. My faithful son Cody took his little brother out for Halloween tricks and treats and made memories of their own. Then my birthday and the show airing. I was so thankful to have family and friends celebrate with me. Yet… I worried, so nervous, that somehow I would look like a fool on national TV. I would some how not be “Me”. In the end it was good. It was more “Me” then I care to admit, I look my age and I love these mountains and it shows right there on national TV. So I laughed along with the boys at the end of the night. I really might be just a Hillbilly at heart.

Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed

Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed

I know I have had more adventures in the last two years then some have in a life time. I have felt more in those two years then I ever thought was possible. I have laughed,cried, felt peace and the hand of God working in my life. I have hugged my children harder and been blessed more than my imagination would let me believe.I have sacrificed my time and money to be a caregiver and a mother. I have worked for no one, but for everyone, and not received a penny and it was all worth it in the end.

Grandma Wanda Powers Mowery, Paige and Christopher Powers, Dec 12 2014

Grandma Wanda Powers Mowery, Paige and Christopher Powers, Dec 12 2014

Some people think riches come in the form of a paycheck or money stored, but it doesn’t. Riches are experiences… and memories…… and dreams shared. They are the only thing that is left in the end. Money can not be taken to the other side… only love can. I have spent the last few years of my life making memories that I will never forget and shared love that I can never get back. I have forgotten about the “Me” and focused on the “We” and have reaped what I have sown in heaping amounts. These years have not hardened, but softened me, softened my heart towards God, my Family and My Friends and even my body. It has been a wonderful time of learning and growing as a person, a woman and mother. 

I am tired now, I will rest a few days, maybe a month, the days will slowly be filled again with work and school and children. I will let life lead me for now, to a new career, to new schooling, or who knows where, but I am ready for a change. That will start me on a new adventure with new memories and more love.

people who love us dont see our disablities just our ablity to love

people who love us don’t see our disabilities just our ability to love

Categories: About me, Barnwood Builders, Death, family memories, Friendship, Halloween, Holidays, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Deep Under Ground, Seneca Caverns Pendelton, WV

At the top of a mountain is the opening into the earth that leads to Seneca Caverns. I have always been fond of tunnels, caves and any old, deep dark place. My husband is of coal miners blood and he too likes the closeness and beauty that is found in places that make you feel the earth wrap her arms around you. Here in West Virginia it seems only natural to mine the ground, drill through rock and go caving, because we are so close to heaven already the only other place to go….. is down.

Mineral Stained Columns , Stalagmites and Stalactites, Seneca Caverns, WV

Mineral Stained Columns , Stalagmites and Stalactites, Seneca Caverns, WV

Seneca Caverns are one of around 100 limestone caves that spread along the Appalachian ridge tops of Pendleton County. The caves range in size from shallow to very wide and deep. Seneca Cavern only reaches 165 feet into the cool earth but is quite long and the path can be twisty. It was first used by the Seneca Indians around 1400 as a shelter and ceremonial center. The cave was then officially explored in 1742 by German settler Laven Teter while trying to find a water source for his family and cattle. The property and cave remained in the Teter family until the late 1920’s when it was sold and the cave reopened to the public in 1930. Not much has changed since the discovery of the cave in the 1700’s. The only additions are the walking path, handrails and lights to make it easier for visitors to see the fantastic mineral formations.

Seneca Caverns' Restaurant and mountain view, Riverton, WV

Seneca Caverns’ Restaurant and mountain view, Riverton, WV

Once below ground the air is cool and damp giving my family a nice break from the hot summer day that we visited. The temperature inside the cave is stable 54 degrees unless over the small pool in the end of the cave where the temperature sometimes drops to 49…. a little cool. Guides recommend jackets for those who get cold easily. This day Christopher was wearing shorts and a T-shirt and began to complain that he was cold over the pool. It is hard to believe that the pool (the coldest portion of the tour) is only feet from the outside world that was a toasty 85 degrees. Before doors  covered the exit portion of the cave it was not uncommon to find deer and other animals drinking from the cool water and staying in the shade of the cave.

Christopher Powers 165 feet underground at Seneca Caverns, WV

Christopher Powers 165 feet underground at Seneca Caverns, WV

This cave is small and low unlike other caves that are known for the high ceilings and wide views. It has some taller rooms but it is wise to wear the hard hat that guides require to enter the cave. Even I hit my head while passing from one room to the next. At 5’8″ I am too tall to not lean over in several places. I also recommend that people who are claustrophobic skip this tour and take another one. Some rooms are small and passages tight… very tight. So tight that a man of 6 foot and in the weight range of 220 fits but it could be a squeeze if you are heavier.

looking down on main room used by Indians at Seneca Caverns, Wv

looking down on main room used by Indians at Seneca Caverns, WV

The tour takes around an hour with groups of 10 to 15 in the summer. The first few rooms are tall and wide and as the tour progresses the unique features of the cave get closer and tighter. You are asked not to touch any of the formations because of the slow growth of the stalagmites and stalactites, some taking centuries to grow a few inches, yet the crowed passages almost force you to touch the wet walls.

Flowstone formation Seneca Caverns

Flow stone formation Seneca Caverns

 

Dripping Ceiling Formation at Seneca Caverns

Dripping Ceiling Formation at Seneca Caverns

Popcorn Walls Seneca Caverns, Wv

Popcorn Walls Seneca Caverns, WV

Floors are WET! Beware if you wear Crocs! I should have worn any other kind of shoe on the planet. Well maybe not flip-flops but the floors are slick and there lots of stairs to go up and down. I am thankful the stairs are a rough concrete so I at least had a chance to keep my balance. I never did fall but it was a constant worry.

3/4 of the way through the cave you drop to its lowest point at 165 feet below ground level. The room is commonly called  Hell’s Kitchen.The room is small ( maybe the size of a compact car) but has a high and narrow opening almost to the surface. The view up reminds you of a stove-pipe or chimney. It is also one of last rooms that has evidence of use by the Seneca Indians. Making it a great place for ghost stories and interesting views.

Hell's Kitchens Chimney Formation, Seneca Cavern, WV

Hell’s Kitchens Chimney Formation, Seneca Cavern, WV

Then my favorite portion of the tour is the formations that look like a fairyland. These formations are Calcite and sparkle in the low light… I think they look like snow or ice frozen deep under ground.

Calcite formations that look like frozen waterfalls at Seneca Caverns, Wv

Calcite formations that look like frozen waterfalls at Seneca Caverns, WV

Calcite Stalagmite Seneca Caverns, Wv

Calcite Stalagmite Seneca Caverns, WV

Then for dramatic effect some of the formations are back-lit to show off the true strangeness of the world underground.

limestone formations

limestone formations

Red lights on drip formations at Seneca Caverns

Red lights on drip formations at Seneca Caverns

Finally the tour ends with all us slowly crossing a narrow foot bridge over the pool of water that Laven Teter was looking for. In his months of exploring the cave Teter finally found the small pool hundreds of yards from the opening where we also ended our journey. Had he continued through the pool to the other side he would have found a small exit way only 20 feet from the pools edge. Where his livestock could get water with little effort.

We return to world of light and heat, I think each of us moaned with dread.The sun was bright, the heat and humidity unbearable.Our eyes had become very accustomed to the dim lighting and dark paths, our bodies liked the cool dampness of the cave. I see where being a hermit in a cave could be very comfortable in the hot humid West Virginia summers. My family really enjoyed the tour and finished up with a stop at the restaurant for some hand dipped ice cream.

As we had only a few more hours to get to our campsite we left the small park and headed back to the main road to continue our trip. In passing we stopped at a road side memorial in Riverton. The stones and flags looked new and I wondered if by some chance it was for climbers, hunters or Veteran’s who had lost their lives near by…. what we found was shocking and kind of creepy.

Riverton Battle Memorial with two flags

Riverton Battle Memorial with two flags

We walk up to the stone to get a better look and read the inscription.

Inscription on the Battle of Riverton stone

Inscription on the Battle of Riverton Stone

The stone tells of two men who died at the battle and one of them shares my husband’s name…… We have family that have lived in Randolph county but did not know of any who lived in Pendleton County. How strange It felt taking this photo, Tom standing next to the stone with his name inscribed on it from 1862.

Thomas Powers at the Battle of Riverton memorial for Thomas Powers

Thomas Powers at the Battle of Riverton memorial for Thomas Powers

Also unique is the fact that  my husband, his father and his grand father were all name Thomas Powers along with this man. All but one was a Veteran of a war, proving that Thomas Powers is a great name for any one who wants to serve our country! What a cool way to end our trip to Seneca Caverns, seeing this made both of us feel like we are  a part of these mountains and caves ,that we have roots the run deeper than any Cavern.

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Camping, Caves and Caverns, family fun, photo review, Seneca Caverns, Travel, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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

My Brothers Gift of Memories

I know it maybe a little late for talking about Christmas gifts but this one just keeps me thinking about my childhood. The gift is really nothing of great value and  would not have any meaning unless you had grown up in a plant and flower loving family. My older brother who is now in his 60’s sent me a package in plain yellow envelope with a simple letter. The letter was short but made tears come to my eyes. The letter folded in half and on the interior page was  8 small hand-lettered packages. Each packet contained seeds. Really who in their right mind cries over seeds, I guess I do. As I read the letter from my brother it informed me that many of the seeds inside the letter were seeds from plants that grew in the yard of my childhood home. The home in Boulder, Co. sold in 1994 and I had already moved here to West Virginia.

letter with seed packets on the back

letter with seed packets on the back

My garden loving brother had for several years lovingly transplanted, split, graphed, stolen, seed headed many of the flowers from my mothers gardens. So when the house that we had all lived in almost 40 years  sold the flowers had moved to his home. He worked for years to cultivate and love them into mature plants and trees. Years passed and I had only randomly thought about her gardens and the love that my mother had for her rose gardens. It was a ritual to go see the Home and Garden show in Denver every spring. We talked with vendors and eat fun food and spent just a little money on fresh plants for the yard that every year. I had forgotten about many of them, until this Christmas.

While talking with my close friend Alex recently, I asked him about his collections and why do we even have collections. We debated about the need for all of us in some form or another to have physical things to recharge our memories. That some objects can bring about very strong memories responses, good and bad. That as humans we hold on to things that are meaningful to us. In my case my brother had the for thought to save plants and seeds. I on the other hand was raising a young child and taking care of a farm full of animals. I had no time to worry about what was being left behind at the house at the time.

As I opened one of the packets, a flood of memories flowed through my mind. The long hot Colorado summers with a yard full of flowers, bushes and trees. Where every other summer the money plant bloomed in beautiful purple flowers and by fall the flowers had turned into seed pods. I would ask my mother to pick and play with them with great joy. The seeds inside these paper pods look like penny’s between thin transparent paper. I would spend hours pealing the pods apart and collecting the seeds for play money or tossing them into the wind to sprinkle the world with new plants. I loved these flowers and missed them later in life. My eyes tear up at the thought of asking my mother if I could play with the pods. I am sure the she knew that I would eventually bring a huge spray of the flower pods into the house for her and  I would also destroy most of the others as I “played” with the delicate paper pods.

 

money plant, lunaria

Money Plant, Lunaria, flower catalog photo

The other packets held the seeds of other memorable flowers such as Oriental Poppies with Their huge orange flowers. My Mother had a bird bath garden surrounded by the blazing orange blooms. I loved that they were the only flower bed in our yard that never needed weeding. The flowers were so tightly packed that you could not see the soil between stalks. I loved to fill the bird bath and water the poppies. We watched as the huge buds would form in the heat of summer and as if they knew the hottest day of summer they would pop open shining their faces back at the sun. Their would be hundreds in bloom at once, drawing bees and birds alike. I would watch the stalks all summer as the blooms would fade and the petals fell to the ground. I would wait until the tall thin stalks dried and the seed pods would open and collect 4 or 5 in my hands and shake the tiny black seeds into my hands. Hundreds maybe thousands would fall from the hallow shell into my sweaty palms. Amazed I would wonder why one flower could produce so many life-giving seeds.

large orange poppy. thanks to the burpee catalog

large orange poppy. thanks to the Burpee catalog

The letter also contains Sage, with the purple flowers that love the hot weather of Colorado. The White Anemone that grew under the eve of the car port along with Larkspur and Columbine. Chives and Garlic that grew out back in a garden that my brother started while I was in 8th grade. He was 25 and just beginning to discover his love of gardening. All these flowers/ plants are over 30 years old and I knew them day in and day out. I know them as well as I still remember my first address and phone #.

As I fished up my conversation with my friend Alex, who collects toys and other nostalgia from our childhood, I realized how wonderful it is to travel back to those places and times. We talked about shucking peas, how many times we had watched Batman, what songs and music made us remember the “good old days”.  I shared with him my plan to not only plant these seeds but share my love of gardening and flowers with my son and  grand-daughter. They are the 3rd and 4th generations of my family to see, love and pick these flowers. The seeds were not only a gift from the past but a gift to the future. The future that started with old seeds and will end with this Grand MaMa having little hands bring her bouquets of fresh flowers from my yard.

I can never express how wonderful my brothers gift is, but I thank him for holding on to a part of my childhood that I hand almost forgotten. I love you Bill Lowrey and am so glad you are my brother.

 

Peace rose my mothers favorite rose from the Jackson and Perkins catalog

Peace Rose my mothers favorite rose from the Jackson and Perkins catalog

 The future is all held in the power of just one tiny seed.

Money Plant seeds

Money Plant seeds

Categories: About me, childhood memories, Colorado, Family, nostalgic, seeds | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Count Down Begins, The Future With Out My Cast

Many of you already know that I have spent most of the last 12 months in a cast on my left leg. I was actually placed in the cast on Dec 9th of last year do to a tiny bone being fractured in the bottom of my foot. I started out being told it was 8 weeks in the cast and then that turned into 13 weeks and then surgery and then recovery. So all of this added up being 5 days short of a year for the recovery from a fractured bone that is the size of a dime.

Jolynn in her leg in air cast Dec 9th 2013

Jolynn in her leg in air cast Dec 9th 2013

So as I write this, I am days from finally being free from a 5 pound weight that I have drug around, walked around, stumbled over and fallen with for so long that I have almost forgotten what it is not to have it. I have actually walked through three casts in this time period. I some how just walk the rubber off the bottom and get a new one and keep on moving along.

Some how even with my limited mobility and at times high levels of pain. I knew that their was some lesson  that would be learned from my prolonged disability. I would emerge with some sort of insight that I did not have before. I have spent more time at home over the last year than in all my life. I have felt more crippling pain than I would wish on anyone.  I have gained more weight than with both of my pregnancy’s and am still gaining. But in truth I have learned and gained from being unable to live my normal life but it is not what I thought I would find at the end of this year.

Over this year of healing and being home, I learned about empathy, sympathy and love. I spent my time caring for some one who was suffering more than me. I spent much of my recovery helping my mother-in-law in her transition from cancer patent, to a weak woman in rehab, to a woman who is slowly taking back her life. I found that setting aside my pain and trying to ease the pain of someone else was a gratifying way to spend the long months that I was not able to work due to my own broken bone.Even just days after my surgery, while still on crutches, I got a call to please “help”. Somehow the two of us managed, sometimes with her courage and some times with mine,but always with the strength of some power greater than us both.

Grandma Wanda Powers with Christopher

Grandma Wanda Powers with Christopher

So as my health returns and my healing is about finished I watch as my Mother-in-laws health is also returning. We are both less dependent on each other and of those around us. She will be losing  her home health nurse in a few weeks because of her recovery and I will be returning to work soon. It is as if their was some divine reason that I had limited mobility, that I had the time to take care of her and that we could support each other through these difficult times.

I am looking forward to life with out my cast. I should be able to return to a life that  I love and be as active and healthy as I once was. The first step is only a couple of days away and I am so excited to take my first walk around the park in my brand new Tennis shoes( after wearing only one shoe for a year… I needed to buy new ones that I had not worn the sole off one shoe). I am looking forward to walking safely  through the snow this winter.

It is with new eyes that I look at recovery from any kind of health issue. It has made me thankful for the people who dedicate their lives to restoring us to health once again.I am blessed to know nurses, home health aides, physical therapist, occupational therapists and the volunteers who spend countless hours doing chores and running out to stores for those in need. It has made me rethink my career goals. In the next few months as my foot regains the strength I may discover that I am not able to return to the work that I have done for years,  a retail store merchandise auditor. I may need to think about the life experience that I have just gone through and see if my feet lead me down a new path?  Hopefully down one that supports both my Mother-in-Law and my recovery.

Air cast with other shoes

Air cast with other shoes

Categories: Cancer, Family, foot pain, foot surgery, grandma, Healing, health | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Flying with a 6 year Old and a Set of Crutches…. REALLY?

So I did it ! Not in the cool comfortable style of young urban hipster, but in the aging mom with a 6-year-old and crutches type of flying. OK, it was worth every effort that me and my family had to put into the trip but I would not volunteer to do this again. Things went down hill quick at my last Dr appointment on 31st of Oct. The Dr said he would remove the stitches and give me my walking cast at this appointment  and that did not happen. It left me broken-hearted.

me in my bandages after surgery

me in my bandages after surgery

As this photo shows, I traveled from Pittsburgh PA to St Louis MS with an Ace bandage, splint and a set of crutches . I had already bought my reservations and car rental when I found out that I was not going to get my walking cast. I left the Dr office thinking I would reschedule my trip, even if this was my birthday trip.I would just wait until the crutches were gone before I traveled. Well with out travel insurance the cost to rebook my flight was going to increase my ticket price from $470 for two tickets to about  another $500 dollars, putting my trip in the $1000.00 range with car rental.I just  could not see paying 500 more dollar for a weekend trip.So after talking with my family we rearranged everything so that my husband would drop us off curbside at the airport, my brother would pick us up and drop us off again when I returned home and finally a close friend volunteered to pick us up from Pittsburgh when we arrived home. I would only be responsible for getting a wheelchair to navigate the air ports and getting Christopher through security, boarding and unloading. Believe me, that was enough to worry about while on crutches.

So in the next 24 hours I packed a 6-year-old and myself for a flight across the Mississippi river to see my mom and brother. The curb side drop off is wonderful at Pittsburgh International Airport.The minute a ticket counter gentleman saw me open my door Larry was grabbing a wheel chair to get me checked in. He did everything he could to get me through check in quickly and talked with Christopher in the nicest way. He arranged for a porter to get me through security and did all of my paper work so I could rest comfortably.He put my faith back in the human race… because he didn’t even work for American Airlines.. he was from US Air.

The TSA is actually not to bad for people in wheel chairs. I got to skip the long lines that are the reason we are all at the airport  two hours early.The agents helped Christopher walk through the metal detectors by himself and wait for me on the other side. He was sooooo goood about all of this. They wheeled me through a side door and we waited on a female agent to do a pat down. Yes, I got the dreaded pat down. This was the first time in all the years that I have flown that  I was one of the millions who get the pat down every year. It was not any worse than a police pat down. Really what are people whining about… the ladies from the TSA were polite, clean, and explained everything that they planed to do and were professionals.I was able to perform everything that they needed me to do while sitting (thankfully). I now wonder what all the fuse is over  when someone has to get a pat down… I have been touch more in a crowed train or elevator… really people unless you are hiding something in you underwear this is not a big deal.

Christopher playing a game at Pittsburgh airport

Christopher playing a game at Pittsburgh airport

I was then taken to my concourse and gate ready to board. Now remember I wanted to fly non-stop because of Christopher. I thought it would be faster and easier on us both to not have connections. That meant I chose to fly a commuter flight. You know the airplanes that have only three seats per row with one single on one side and two seats on the other. Well I am not a small woman and I had completely forgotten how small the loading ramps and aisles are on these small flights. I could not walk with my crutches across the loading ramp or inside the plane, so I hopped to our seats. Christopher needing the window seat was kinda bewildered at the fact that we were all shoeing him ahead of me into the plane.He kept looking back at me with eyes that said where are we going now. I just kept saying “go buddy, go!” until we reached our seats and he was able to get comfortable in the window seat.

This was Christopher’s’ first flight that he actually remembers and it was so funny watching him discover the seats, the lights and A/C and even his seat belt. He was sooooo excited he actually squealed when he realized that we were off the ground and flying above traffic and houses. He was so glad when we were able to get through the clouds and see the bright blue sky above the rain in Pittsburgh.The trip was clam and he played and looked out the window for the next hour and a half.

We landed in St Louis and unloaded last off the plane.Hop hop hop back out off the plain into a wheelchair on the jet way. The crew worked fast and racing me back to the gate and concourse, leaving Christopher to run after us,… scaring us both. Everyone in St Louise was in a hurry and my country bumpkin mind-set was just not ready to race anywhere. Christopher was a little confused too, I needed to make a phone call, we needed a minute to acclimate to the new airport and Christopher needed to get caught up to my wheelchair. Sadly, the next thing I knew we raced down a ramp  and into a long hall at top speed where finally the lady porter asked if Christopher could ride on my chair because he just could not really keep up. “Aaaa Ya, sure just put him in my lap” I said as she power pushed us farther down the hall into baggage claim.

Once we retrieved our bags and got into my brothers car I finally relaxed. I was safe and Christopher was a sleep just a few minutes into our 2 hour drive south to Rolla. It had been a long time since I have left the comfort of my mountains, it had been a longtime since I had to ride in bumper to bumper traffic on a 5 line highway. St Louis even on a beautiful Saturday afternoon was a mess with accidents, reminding me why I hated living in the Denver Metro Area all those years.Then I remembered that this was what the Missouri called mountains and laughed. This mountain girl who lived 22 years at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder Colorado, and the 24 years in the hills and valleys of North Central West Virginia found the description of the Mountains of Missouri a joyful joke. So beautiful yet not a mountain in sight.

Meadow View in Rolla Missouri

Meadow View in Rolla Missouri

We all arrived at my brother’s house to a roaring fire and I was so sore and tired that I was thankful that we had no plans to go anywhere or see any more family that night. Christopher and I had a warm quite bed in the Ozarks and we had managed to stay safe and together all the way. It was a good night  and I was glad I had made the trip even on crutches.

the Lowrey family home in Rolla MS

the Lowrey family home in Rolla MS

Categories: Birthday, Family, family fun, grandma, Healing, health, Ozark mountains, St Louis, Travel, traveling | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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