Niagara Dam – Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

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About a month ago, my husband and I thought we’d drive up Roanoke Mountain Loop Road off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I brought along my camera hoping to catch some views of the Roanoke Valley. Unfortunately, the recent storms had dropped a tree across the road, closing its access.

Not to be deterred on our little outing, we decided to go to another scenic spot. I have driven along the Parkway, crossing the bridge that passes over the Roanoke River, on numerous occasions. I had yet to stop and walk down the trail to see this part of the river up close. Autumn had not made its approach at this time, so the falls were mostly shrouded by trees.

The descent to the river is not steep.  We passed some people walking with toddlers and some out walking their dogs.  There are signs warning about the dangers of the rushing water.  Something to the effect of “being bashed amongst the rocks”.  And yes, the sign is very straightforward.  Next time, I’ll have to snap a picture.

Imagine my delight when at the bottom of the trail, I spied a door!




The Niagara Dam was built in 1906. Today, it is the smallest hydroelectric plant in the American Electric Power system, with a capacity to generate 2,400 kilowatts of power.

It was a fun little outing with some beautiful weather. I’m looking forward to the continuing change of colors that are just beginning to take hold here.

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Head over to the host of Thursday Doors, Norm 2.0, to see some other amazing doors!

Let your light shine!

Amy

Time Travel Tuesday – A little Witchy

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As I delve into my past this week, I thought it only fitting that since we are approaching that “haunting” time of year, I bring up a very strange moment in American history.

The Salem Witch Trials.

I’m sure most people are at least vaguely familiar with this dark moment in time.  They occurred in Colonial Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693.  Prior to this, there had been accusations and rumors of witchcraft in neighboring towns and villages.  A group of girls began to have “fits”.  With no other explanation, it was decided that it must be the work of witchcraft.  The first three to be accused were Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba.  What would follow was mass hysteria ending with 4 people dying in prison, 1 person pressed to death with stones, and 19 people who were hanged to death.

A quick google search will turn up an astounding number of interesting reads on what they know about the trials.  A recent fact is that a research group called the Gallows Hill Project has discovered that the hangings took place on Proctor’s Ledge. One of the researchers, from the University of Virginia, has written about it here.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller was required reading when I was in High School English and of course I have taken classes on American History.  I’ve mentioned before that I was a math and science girl and was not fascinated by history until I began working on my genealogy a few months ago.

Many people who can trace their lines back to early America may weave their way back to this period.  This step into the past doesn’t belong to me, but belongs to my children.  What?!  Yep.  This piece of history is passed on by their father.  The genealogical work to trace his line to the Salem Witch Trials was not done by me.  His aunt had put in lots of time and effort and shared this with us many years ago.  I just had to type it into my tree and the program did all the work to tell me how far back to count.

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Susannah (North) Martin (1621-1692) had been accused of witchcraft on two other occasions.  In 1692, she found herself accused again.  This time, she was a widow and poor (she had been involved in a lengthy litigation over her father’s estate and the court found against her).   She was required to undergo a physical examination in search of a “witches teet”.  She was tried in the June 29th session of court and on July 19, 1692 she, along with four other women, were hanged to death for witchcraft.

Susannah (North) Martin is my children’s 10th great-grandmother.  They descend from her daughter Esther (Martin) Jameson.

In tracing my line, I discovered that I descend from the Howletts and Cummings, both of which were in the area at the time of the Salem Witch Trials.  My 10th great-grandfather, Isaac Cummings (1601-1677) was father to one of those who testified against Elizabeth Howe, a woman hanged the same day as Susannah Martin.  I descend from a different son, John Cummings (1630-1700) who was married to Sarah Howlett (1634-1700).  I am just at the beginning of discovering how all those lines interconnect.

A horrible moment in history.  A moment overlapping with accuser and accused in the lives of my children.

How about you?  Any interesting tales you’ve stumbled across in your family’s history?

Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we are here. -Sue Monk Kidd

Thanks for traveling along this Tuesday.

Let your light shine!

Amy

Love letter to my daughter

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1,000 wishes I’ve wished for you.

1,000 more will I wish.

In my youth, I dreamed of someday having a daughter.

As your dad and I fell in love, I sat on his back porch telling him of my dreams.

He told me that he hoped that my daughter was his daughter too.

A story you’ve heard a million times, and a million more you’ll be told.

On October 21, 2003, we said hello.

Face to face for the first time.

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Your precious hand around my finger.

Your head upon my chest.

The last baby that I would have.

I wanted to breathe in each moment and slow down time.

But time continues on, as it always does.

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Each year the pages seeming to turn faster.

Moments savored.

But gone too quick.

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Each setting sun marking time.

And now you are 13.

A teenager.

Charting your course in history.

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Choosing who you want to become.

Marching forward toward womanhood.

Beautiful inside and out.

I wish that heartache, death, or disappointment would never touch upon your life.

But, I know that it will.

And I pray that you become a stronger, more compassionate woman each time you taste the sting of sadness.

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I pray that the world never makes you choose to sway from who you are.

That it will never dim your light.

That you will remember that God has a purpose for you.

One that only you can set in motion and fulfill.

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Strength, courage, compassion, kindness…

I hope that these traits continue to grow with each passing day.

I hope you are always surrounded by people who lift you up.

I hope you never lose your smile or the laughter that spills from your lips.

I hope your heart overflows with joy.

I hope you always remember that you are completely loved.

And as you make your way into the world

I hope your light shines brightly!

 

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time Travel Tuesday-On the cusp of 13

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Big hair, sunshine, and bubble gum pink lips!

Today, I travel back to being 13.  Why?  Because this Friday, my youngest baby…my only girl, will turn 13.  I will officially become the mother of all teenagers. It feels like it is coming too fast.  I’m sure it would be here much to soon even if life wasn’t racing along. The past week has seemed especially busy.  I haven’t had time to process this coming moment.  I’m sure I’ll be talking about the magnitude of this milestone in future posts.

I look back and smile at my 13 year old self. I loved to be in front of the camera.  Now I prefer to be behind it. My favorite outdoor backdrop on our property was this palm tree.  I’d dress up in different outfits and “model” while my my mom took photos. To look at this photo, it may seem I was unhappy, but there are others from that set, and I definitely was not.  The click of the camera just happened to be before I was ready. The sun in my eyes and my smile on its way.  I distinctly remember that being some good hair. That was why I had my mom pull out the camera. I didn’t, and don’t, do early mornings. I did not give up sleep to fix my hair for school.  Do you know how much teasing and hairspray went in to getting my hair to look like that!  This was on a weekend when time held no sway over my life.

This was back before I could take 100 photos and pick the best one. Back when a selfie involved a mirror or hoping that you and your friend would actually get both your faces in the shot when you held the camera above your heads. Back when I took my roll of film down to the local drugstore and waited days to see how those moments would turn out.

A moment captured at the beginning of my teenage years…

When the world was full of possibilities.

There were dreams to be pursued.  A life well lived to chase. People to meet.  Memories to be made.

And I embark upon a circle of life moment when all of my children will have crossed this imaginary line into a new season.

Seeking their world of possibilities… their dreams…

Thanks for traveling back with me this week.  I hope your days of being 13 bring back some fond memories.  The teenage years were tough. I try to remember the moments that were good!

I’m off to pursue dreams and make memories… but first…laundry.

The journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step – Lao Tzu

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time Travel Tuesday- Child of the 80’s

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I love music.  Love, love, love, music.  My kids will tell you otherwise, but that’s because I can’t stand it playing from a phone speaker first thing in morning.  Ok, truth be told, I can’t stand much of anything in the morning.

We have satellite radio in our vehicles and I listen to all types of genres of music.  But recently I have spent a lot of time switching back and forth between 80’s and 90’s music.  I  was a child of the 80’s and a teen in the 90’s.  Music was always a part of our home.  I grew up going through my dad’s giant record collection finding songs that I like.  I learned to love Fleetwood Mac, Melanie, Janis Joplin, Simon & Garfunkel….the list goes on.  I can’t even begin to name the music that I was exposed to that had come from prior generations.

But I also liked the modern music of the day.  The 80’s and 90’s channels transport me back to moments in time from those days. Last night, I was driving home after dropping my daughter off at soccer practice when “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams came on the radio.  I was about 7 or 8 when the video for the song came out…way back when MTV played music videos.  We didn’t have cable way out where I lived (it was doubtful that we had standard electricity yet either).  When I would go stay with Jami, I wanted to try to see the music video for “Summer of ’69” and Madonna’s “Material Girl”.

Those songs transport me back to that moment of my youth.  Little snapshots of time.  It was there in that snapshot of time that Jami and I would find a piece of broken glass behind a stairwell. We would cut our finger, and press them together, to be forever bonded as “blood sisters”.  During the process we wondered why we felt it was necessary since we were already blood related.  It was also in that snapshot of time where Jami owned a pair of roller skates.

I got a brand new pair of roller skates

You got a brand new key

I digress… but if you don’t know what I’m talking about:

If we took turns using the skates, we couldn’t enjoy the fun together.  So we came up with a brilliant idea.  We would each wear 1 skate.  We became experts at gliding along on 1 skate…. turning, twirling, balancing on one foot.  We choreographed intricate routines in this 1 skate style, sometimes even including our batons.  We raced each other through the parking lot.  We were unstoppable forces. We envisioned that everyone would think our routines were works of art and come clamoring to seek our genius.

A snapshot in time when life was simple and laughter was never-ending.

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Music has a way of transporting us through time.  Little points along the continuum.

What about you?  Do you have a song that takes you to a snapshot in time?

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

Thursday Doors- Hurricanes

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Today my thoughts are with all of my family and friends in Florida. Hurricane Matthew is barreling their way.  As of right now it is a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds.  It is expected to strengthen some before it reaches Florida.  When I look at forecasted lines I see potentials for landfall from Palm Beach up through Vero Beach.  We moved to Virginia from a town right in between, Seawalls Point.  We have friends all along there, Stuart, and Jensen Beach.  We also lived in Okeechobee for 2 years before that.  We have friends there under warnings.  I am also concerned for those devastated by the storm in Haiti and those dealing with it in the Bahamas.

My Thursday door today (check out Norm 2.0 for other amazing doors) is from our home when we lived in Naples, Florida.  We had that home built in 1999 and moved in when I was 5 months pregnant with our first child.  We grew our family in that home until we left Naples in 2008.

The photo of the door was taken after Hurricane Wilma in 2005.  Wilma came ashore just south of Naples in Cape Romano with 120 mph winds.  Prior to that it had reached a Category 5. Wilma was the twenty-second storm, thirteenth hurricane, sixth major hurricane, fourth Category 5 hurricane, and second-most destructive hurricane of the 2005 season.

You can see all the dirt and debris that had blown against the home.  The hurricane codes had been increased after Andrew (which I lived in Naples for as well) so our house held up well.

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I don’t have any magnificent photos that capture what it’s like when a band comes through.  These pine trees are native.  They are made to withstand the winds.  The air changes and becomes eerie and clear.  There is a palpable shift in the pressure and then the wind whooshes through the trees on one side of you and then continues outward and around until it is on the other side and then behind you.

I love this feeling.  It lifts my soul and makes me feel alive.  I don’t know if it is the Florida in my veins or some deeper ancestral feeling.  We have had one such storm with the palpable change and circular wind while I’ve lived in Virginia.  It was on a small scale so I just stood outside and breathed in home.  But hurricanes can also be devastating and scary.

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While native plants can withstand most hurricanes, the pine tree in this photo did not.  That is because it stood alone.  In my desire to take out the least amount of trees necessary to build our home, I left this beautiful, tall specimen.  I also left the cypress tree that you can almost make out to the right.  The problem for this pine was that he took the entire brunt of the storm

Alone.

I think we could all learn some lessons about the need for community and friendship right there.

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For us the tree was the part we never imagined when riding out the storm.  I have been through plenty of tropical storms and hurricanes that have passed nearby (Charlie, Sandy…probably some others).  The realization that had the tree broke the other way and landed on the roof was a little overwhelming. This front window was my daughter’s room and the back corner was the boy’s room.  We decided in that moment that we wouldn’t ride out a strong hurricane again.

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This is what my children remember about the storm.  That and that their dad made them some floating thing out of wood (I can’t remember this and am guessing it was just a piece of plywood).  They don’t remember any moment of being frightened (I don’t think they ever were).  They don’t remember the weeks of cleaning up the yard or replacing torn soffits and fascia.  They don’t remember the fence panel surrounding the water system that blew across the yard.  They don’t even remember that after three days of no electricity and water (we were on a well system, which requires electricity), I packed up the kids, my mom, and sister-in-law and went to our cabin in Georgia until the power came back (poor hubby had to go back to work, taking showers in our RV since it had a tank of water).

Floridians have been weathering storms for generations.  They are a resilient bunch, but they are deeply in my prayers today as I watch the news.  They are in my thoughts as I feel strangely surreal in a store that is not packed with people clamoring for bread and water.  Oddly out of place that the lines at the gas station haven’t increased.  I miss my home today and I hope it weathers well.

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Boarded doors and window at Pelican Larry’s sports bar – October 2005

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

*all photos on this page are copyright of Amy Lyon Smith

Time Travel Tuesday – Blowin’ in the wind

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Reva and her great-granddaughter (my girlie)

Part of having a family history includes moments when those you spent time with are no longer here.  Dates, places, sights, and smells…. all of these and so much more can trigger a memory that transports you back in time.

Today, October 4th, would have been my Grandma Reva’s 87th birthday.  She would always tell us that she was born in the month and year of The Great Crash.  The Depression would have an impact on her childhood, just as it did most others in America at the time. It would take her family from their life in Arizona to her father’s family farm in Kentucky, and then on to Charleston, SC for a time… but those are all stories for another day.

It’s been almost 3 years since she passed away.  Her passing came only months after I had moved from Florida to Virginia.  Time marked in spaces where I felt as though I was drowning.  Where her prayer for my contentment kept me striving to feel settled in a foreign land.  That prayer is one of the catalysts for my desire to embrace the here and now.  To live wholly in the present, to seek beauty in nature, and to once again spark a light that might shine into the world.

Today is a day when nostalgia  comes calling. I remember her giant earrings and crazy hats.  Her sweet smile and soothing voice.

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A pair of her earrings that I wear when I feel like I need some of her sunshine

I remember her warm embrace and how I could never beat her at Yahtzee or Rummy.  I remember when she came to stay with us for a little while after her hip replacement in the winter of ’88-’89. I ended up with chicken pox and our pipes froze (if you know Florida, this just didn’t happen).  She always had an ear to lend and encouragement for anyone who came seeking.  When her hip replacements gave out later in life and her heart was too weak to survive any more replacements she got a motorized wheelchair/scooter, slapped a Harley-Davidson sticker on the back of the seat, and went about living.  She loved people and people loved her.

She had an infectious laugh and a big personality.  She spent a number of years volunteering for the Naples Players.  She always said she had done every job except act on stage.  She actually did act in some videos that were used for training nurses at the hospital.  It was during her time there that she became friends with a woman who would later move to Kissimmee and work at Disney World making costumes.  This was sometime in the 80’s and this friend either got so many free passes or discounted passes a year (I was a child, so I don’t know the exactness) and invited us up to Disney. My mother, grandmother, brother, my dad’s sister Jami, and I went.

We had a great time and a great many tales, but my favorite comes at the end of the trip.  We were heading home that morning.  My grandma had washed her underwear and they weren’t quite dry, but it was time to get on the road.  She decided that she was going to hang them out of the car, secured by the closed window.  I’m sure I was mortified, but at some point you move beyond that and think that this is the most hilarious thing ever.  Everything you have ever heard or seen called white granny panties….well this was them.  To my child self, they seemed huge (and may well have been).

We were driving along in her little blue Toyota station wagon. My mom was at the wheel, my grandma as a passenger, and us three children in the back seat.  As we would accelerate, the underwear would lift and flap along in the breeze, like a white flag of surrender.  Then we would come to a stop light and they would flutter down and smack against the window.  People would stare from their cars while we were dissolving in fits of laughter in the back seat.  My grandma didn’t even think it was hilarious, only a practical solution to her problem.  I’m sure she joined in laughing because that’s who she was, always happy. So we traveled along, raising and lowering this panty flag throughout Orlando.  We stopped for gas and she decided they were probably dry.  She was correct, but they were also covered in filth from smacking the car.  That was just too much!  We laughed about it for the rest of the day and each time we remembered it for the next 30 years.

When I started this post in my mind yesterday, I wondered whether I’d include this story.  Could my words convey the hilarity of the actual experience?  I went out to run some errands and was behind an older SUV with a little black flag flapping along on each side.  As I passed, I realized it was not little black flags flapping.  It was a black sock, one on each side of the vehicle, secured in place by the closed windows.  Something I had never seen since my own childhood experience.

I smiled and thought “at least the dirt won’t show up!” 🙂

Let your light shine!

Amy