The annual quest for Colorado gold   4 comments

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Every year when the leaves turn and Autumn arrives we head out, on our quest to look for the best places to photograph the changes in color and the Aspens turning a bright golden-yellow. And sometimes, a shot of something else will do too when we stop to explore along the road. The top photo is one of the Aspens in the Rocky Mountains seen off highway 7 between Lyons and Nederland, Co.

The bottom photo is one of Barker Dam off the road on the way down to the city of Boulder. Timing, location and altitude can make all the difference in the color and changes seen. In some areas just a few days earlier, there was more color with rust and red tones showing in some of the plant life, brighter in places, but in others it had not yet reached its peak. Photographers with tripods set in place can be spotted along the road, as everyone wants to capture the gold.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/quest/

When silence speaks louder than words   7 comments

A silent response is often times the loudest, the unspoken message more clearly understood than a verbal one. Sometimes there is just nothing I can say in response to one’s perspective on something I have not formed a worthy opinion on. My silence is the only, and maybe the wisest response or reply I can give. The tongue is quick, and the mind a sharp retort, forming and verbalizing what often can be things we later regret, wish we had not said, and cannot take back.

Wisdom is something I have always sought, like Solomon in the Old Testament Bible when it was the one thing he asked of God more than anything else. And being silent is one of those things that is a part of applying wisdom to a situation when we just cannot help, or add something of significance to what is already done, or said. It is times like that when my silence on something is loudest by not adding my ‘two cents’ worth, or rather my ‘opinion,’ if it is something that would offend or add conflict.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/silence/

Posted September 20, 2016 by Joyce in My Writings, The Daily Post

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A Shelter in the Time of Storm   4 comments

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An old church I photographed while vacationing one year in the upper northeast (New England and Nova Scotia). I love photographing old white churches.

 

 

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The antique ‘Deacon’s bench’ I bought years ago from an antiques dealer. I don’t know its history, but the pew and intricate carving in the deep walnut wood is much like those used in old churches, and my inspiration for the fictional story below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It started with quiet, cloudy skies, the air so still not a bird could be seen in flight.

“A storm is coming.” Janetta said.

The grocer glanced out the window. “It will probably be just one of those late summer showers, then move out.”

“Maybe…Well, I guess that’ll be it. I’ll see you next week, Hank.”

“Sure thing. And thanks for the eggs. There’s none better than farm fresh, anywhere.”

“Yes. My hens have had a good year.” She smiled as she walked out the door.

The gravel kicked up, spitting rocks to the sides of the road. She watched the clouds turn an ominous gray. The ten miles home seemed to take longer, and the miles much further when she was in a hurry.

Sirens wailed as she spotted a black cloud, with its twisting, menacing tail swirling across the sky, dip low, then pull away only to come around again, this time from the direction she was headed. Her house. God, please get me home in time. But, the funnel cloud came right for her.

She turned her wheel sharp cutting through a field towards the old church, catching weeds and dried brush under the car, and slammed to a stop in front of the door. A window leading down to the basement was her only escape and means of protection. She broke it and climbed through. She and Bill were married in this church, faithfully attending until its membership dwindled, and people moved on. Now, it was little more than a hollow shell of memories, with relics from the past, left behind. With the swiftness of a rabbit she scurried under a pew.

Sounds like a freight train derailed from its tracks, cars crashing into each other was deafening. The twister struck like a cracking whip splitting open the church, exposing all to the sky as she watched in horror, crouched under the pew. It spun around, building in strength, then tore across the ground destroying everything in its path. Creaking beams snapped and toppled to the earth’s floor. Doors and windows blew out, shattered glass and objects were caught up in a whirlwind of debris, soil and dust, sucked into the cloud.

The storm was gone as quick as it’d come. When she crawled out from under the pew the church was reduced to a pile of rubble. But, the pew sat upright, untouched. An old hymnal hanging from the book rack behind lay opened to a hymn she remembered once singing; ‘Jesus is the rock in a weary land…a shelter in the time of storm.’

Both her and her husband’s lives were spared that day, when others were not. Bill found refuge in an underground culvert, their prayers sustaining them, giving them hope. They lost their home and their hens to the tornado, but not their spirit. They would rebuild, again.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

The Blessing of the Old Sewing Machine   12 comments

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An antique sewing machine from the 1800s. It is one of my collected antique pieces acquired over the years. The photo above was my inspiration for the fictional story below.  I don’t use this machine for personal use, but I do sew, on my own Kenmore machine I have had for about fifty years.

The Blessing of the Old Sewing Machine

Bent over at the shoulders, her bones small and brittle she leaned in, head bowed to see clearly her stitches as the old sewing machine made a repetitive pattern on the fabric pieces, all of them cut from dresses she’d made her granddaughter when worn as a little girl. The machine made clicking sounds as it faithfully worked across each row, fed under the presser foot by thin, arthritic fingers. Her foot tapped with steady rhythm the large iron foot pedal below the machine. Her family tried to bless her with a new Singer sewing machine one Christmas, but she would not hear of it. Her old ‘Nelly’ had been with her for so long she refused to give her up, a gift from her long departed husband. Nelly was an old trusted friend, that would remain with her until its end, or hers.

Her eyes were failing her as she attempted to finish the quilt in time for her granddaughter’s dowry shower. Wire rimmed glasses rested on the indented straight nose. They helped little in gaining her vision acuity as she squinted. She looked for any puckered or uneven stitches. Ah, Nelly, you miss a few, too. We work hard to catch up, growing old together, and where will your grave be when my foot can peddle you no more? Soon, Darla will have her dresses again, reborn in this dowry quilt.

Ah…I remember this one, the dark blue damask. She wore it to her piano recital. Such a beautiful piece she played. A concerto, I think. Her fingers danced across the keys. And oh, this one, the red rose brocaded pattern. It was worn for the children’s Christmas program at church. They sang the Carols of the Nativity. Like an angel choir come down from heaven, they were. And this green striped plaid, she wore for her… ninth, or tenth birthday party? She’d spilt punch on it, and we worked to get out that stain. There’s just a hint of it left here, I can see, barely. Oh, the memories that child has given me. If I am not around when she has her first…oh, what a thought. I will be there to see her face when she opens her gift. Now, I am almost done. There, the blocks are all in place.

Aligning the front of the quilt to the back, the underside done in a flowered pattern with the batting between, she stitched up the sides. With short lengths of colorful embroidery floss and buttons stitched through the thickness she finished with little bows. She then folded the quilt and laid it between sheets of white tissue paper in a large box, sealed it up, and wrapped it in paper.

Feeling the weariness come over her, she laid down to rest, and went to sleep.

A month later, the wrapped box sat on an empty chair at Darla’s shower. It had been saved for last. As she pulled away the tissue from the quilt folded inside, her tears fell like a summer rain on thirsty ground.

“Mama! It’s my old dresses, all sewn into a quilt.”

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

Painted by the finger of God   4 comments

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The sun lingers just over the rise,

a tinge of pink reflects off the peaks.

With anticipation I wait to behold

the glow spreading across the sky.

The hour in passing seems too long.

Then dusk descends slowly over the ridge,

and the heavens like a canvas arrayed in hues

of orange and yellow merge together

exploding in color and brilliant light,

an image painted by the finger of God.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

Footnote: I took the above photos in July of this year, getting these and many other shots during our wait for the sun to go down while parked up on the lookout ridge overlooking Longs Peak in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Whenever we go up there I come away inspired to write new pieces of poetry, adding more new photos to our ever-growing collection of Colorado mountain photos that fill our albums and digital libraries.

Living just an hour away and thirty miles from Rocky Mountain National Park is a definite advantage to being able to do this, and we never tire of the beautiful drive up highway 34 from our town of Loveland, through the narrows and granite canyons and into Estes Park situated at the foot of RMNP.  At this time of year after a very busy, bustling summer of tourists visiting RMNP we see the busy summer tourist season come to a close with the Labor Day weekend. Soon, the Aspen trees begin to turn a golden color, drop their leaves, and the elk do their popular bugling call (the beginning of their mating season), drawing more tourists for the autumn season. The air turns colder and we see our first winter snow storms, snow skiers arriving, and it is busy again.🙂

Keeping an open mind, with an expectant heart   6 comments

Too easy it seems we look for those things

that we think we will find

in those we’ve met,

things we’ve heard, or things we’ve read,

stories of those heard only and yet,

is it maybe we come with the thought of mind

that one, or a thing is expected to be

just what is said, and not what we find?

Can it be that our heart is too closed to receive

and our eyes not open

and we cannot believe,

that there is a beautiful person inside,

and they need your smile, or a word in kind

a heart given to love, not a nod in passing aside.

If you were alone, or became that one

and one walked in judgement

and refused to see

the person you are behind your cloak

that others see only,

not the treasure inside,

wouldn’t you wish to be loved too

for who you are; not the one they think you are?

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/discover-challenges/open-minded/

 

Port cities explored in southeast Alaska   4 comments

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A street scene in Skagway. Its history dates back to 1898 when the Klondike ‘gold rush’ brought prospectors by the thousands to search for a vein of gold that could be mined and lead them to their riches. Few found it, but the lure and the dream remained with those who stayed and carved out a place to settle down and form roots.

DSCN0796The above gray building is known as Camp Skagway, an establishment of the Arctic Brotherhood, restored in Skagway. It was built from 1,000 sticks of driftwood, and remains a historic landmark today.

DSCN0794The storefronts in Skagway are original; preserved and quaint. The buildings with the ‘Old Wild West’ look add to its charm with the mountain range seen in the background.

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Juneau, above is the capital of Alaska, a modern sprawl of commercial, residential, business and tourism offering attractions like deep-sea fishing and whale watching. Much of the residential areas can be seen with homes bunched up against the hills overlooking the waterfront. DSCN0821A view of Juneau’s waterfront from the Coral Princess cruise ship.

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A street scene of Ketchikan taken from a deck aboard the Coral Princess cruise ship.

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Ketchikan is known for its totem pole carving, a native art that dates back to the 1800s. The wood logs are often seen pulled through the water by boats and taken where they are dried and hollowed out before carving them to avoid the wood from splitting. Each carving tells a story of one’s history or folklore that goes back to the early days of exploration in Alaska, the native Alaskan tribes and people who settled there.

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These last two photos above are the port and skyline of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, a very large city of several million with a high percentage of immigrants from all over the world. Vancouver is also a city that strives to keep it an environmentally safe and green city with plants, gardens and foliage thriving everywhere, even growing on tops of their buildings, literally.

We pulled into port in the early morning hours,  disembarked from the Coral Princess, and once again waited in long lines to go through customs and security clearance. It was the end to an awesome trip, and unforgettable experience touring the great state of Alaska via cruise ship, rail and motor coach.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

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