Archive for May 2013

Cactus blooms in the Rockies

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When I and my family were up at our Glacier View mountain property over Memorial Day weekend I brought my cameras up, as they pretty much go everywhere with me now, especially up there to our lot. With all the moisture and late snow storms we’ve had the last two to three months the foothills were the greenest I have seen them in years. When we got to our lot, above 9,000 ft. elevation even the wildflowers were already in bloom. One of the types of blooming plants we have up there is this kind of mountain cactus that thrives through all kinds of weather. This one bloom and others like it are at their best right now, with the colorful pretty shades of pink, lavender and yellow. Many years ago I dug up one of our large cactus plants with beautiful yellow blooms on it and transported it back home to Loveland in a bucket with its own soil, then transplanted it with the same soil and mixed in some fresh potting soil. Because these cactus plants have very sharp needles and are too prickly to handle with bare hands I put on leather work gloves to work them carefully down into the soil and large clay pot. The cactus thrived and lived for years, blooming every late spring with beautiful yellow blooms. I took pictures of it in full bloom, but have misplaced that photo and did not have it handy to scan and upload it to this post, so am using this photo to show one of the cactus types that grow in our Colorado Rockies. We have many other wildflower plants too that grow up there and are in full bloom by July. Last year when our mountains suffered so terribly with uncontrolled wildfires that burnt thousands of acres our lot came close to burning too in the High Park fire in June, 2012, but it was spared. That was definitely an answered prayer and when we were able to get back up there again three weeks after the fire was contained I spotted some of our faithful, hearty little wildflowers blooming among the dried, scorched pine needles like these Daisy type blooms. It is sometimes the little things we often overlook because they are/were always there, but in the midst of all the burned areas, a single flower or cactus plant thrives through all, and green shoots come back to remind me to never take any of it for granted.

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Joyce E. Johnson

Remembering our veterans who fought for our freedom

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Three Vietnam Veterans who fought and served during the war

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Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall, Fort Collins, Colorado, May 24, 2013

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Huey helicopter used during Vietnam War for combat missions and for transporting troops to and from battle zones

Last Friday my husband and I viewed the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall with the 58, 261 names on it of soldiers who died in one of the longest and least understood wars of our country. The traveling wall is 80 %  the original size of the one in Washington, DC and the largest one made for the sole purpose of being transported and set up at cities around the country so it can be viewed on Memorial Day.  Fort Collins, a city seven miles north of mine in Northern Colorado was happy to  host the traveling wall for this particular Memorial Day. It is provided and set up by the American Veterans Tribute organization based in Flint, Tx. With this display came some other things not often seen by the public, yet just as impressive. One was the Huey helicopter used in combat missions and for transporting troops to and from the battle zones during the war between 1965-1975.  My husband, Wayne and I were eighteen in 1965 when the draft was implemented and men were called up to serve. Unless one was enrolled in a four-year college, physically disabled, or married with children there was little chance of being exempt from serving. My husband was placed in the exempt status because he was enrolled in a seminary in 1966-1970 and was required to achieve and retain a 3.5 GPA while in school. We were married in 1966 and he remained in the exempt status throughout school and after. Other friends and classmates were not as fortunate and were drafted and sent into the war. The U.S. was pulled into the war to help the South Vietnamese retain their democratic hold over the fight with the North Vietnamese Communist regime and the Viet Cong. But, the war was lost for the South Vietnamese with the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) conquering all, moving in and gaining control on April 30, 1975. It was a war that was unpopular to begin with and caused such political conflict within congress and the current presidential administrations that when the war was over and our surviving soldiers and nurses came home, many were treated with disdain and left destitute while trying to find a job and start over and many more left with disabling injuries for the rest of their lives.

In 1998 when Wayne and I vacationed on the east coast and visited the war memorial sites in Washington, DC, we saw the original beautiful granite wall memorial there. It is one of the most moving ones I have ever seen. Once again, this time while viewing the traveling wall it was a very solemn and emotional time as names were read, taps played, one playing the bagpipes while marching slowly before the wall, and the 21 gun salute heard, the service ending with a prayer from a chaplain. This Memorial Day tribute with included photos here is to honor those vets who served and fought, and for those who died in this war.

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Joyce E. Johnson

Pulling it all together: One Memorial Day


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Pulling it all together: One Memorial Day

    Memorial Day is the weekend that kicks off the summer season, when people plan vacations, camping trips, and time with family and friends.

    I have numerous memories of good times with my family while on vacations and holidays, some better than others.

    There is one particular memory of a Memorial Day weekend many years ago while up on our four-acre mountain property at Glacier View Meadows. We went up to enjoy the holiday camping out, cooking our meals over the open fire, all the things that make a great campout. Our youngest daughter was twelve then, and invited a girlfriend along. Our tent was erected, our campsite organized, things unpacked. We had a good fire going roasting our hotdogs and marshmallows under the moonlight. It all started good.

“Ah… This is nice.” My husband said, stoking the fire, stuffing marshmallows into his mouth. I agreed.

A few hours later when we were ready to turn in and put out the fire it turned colder and dark clouds moved in. The wind picked up and a storm came through.

   Hunkering down in our tent, we waited and listened as the rain came and the storm blew, pelting our tent, soaking the ground. It was not long before the heavy rain was seeping in getting our sleeping bags wet.

   I never slept. But, the girls did. How, I did not know. I worried that our tent would float away, or slide downhill on the muddy terrain. The rain continued through the night and into the morning. Dawn came with more gray clouds, more rain, but no sun.

   Sloshing through the mud my husband said, “Guess we won’t be cooking breakfast over the fire grate.” Scratch the camp fire, too.” He stood in the downpour, looking up as if hoping to see the sun appear behind a cloud. “I’ll set up the propane stove in the shed and light the lantern. We’ll cook our breakfast in the shed.”

   “Whoopee!” I said. I needed coffee, strong and hot, a lot of it.

   We ran to our storage shed to get out of the rain, and hoped it would not float away. But, it was solid and sound, and provided good cover. Our shed though stout and sturdy was built on a gentle slope, with a bit of a slant to one side. It was a building project of my husband’s which he insists was leveled at the time of construction.

   Our situation made me think about the Bible story of Noah and the Arc. Noah was prepared for the flood. We were not prepared for anything, not even the rain. Noah’s wife must have had a lot of patience. I did not. They were together on that arc for forty days and nights. I could not remain up on our lot for even four days before missing my home.

    We scrambled our resources, food and cooking utensils. My husband lit the lantern and started the two burner propane stove. I cooked breakfast. Not an easy task. While the coffee perked on one burner, I used the other for the griddle, cooking our breakfast in three courses. The pancakes ran south in the direction of the slope, looking like little oval islands. The egg yolks ran away from the whites and the sausage links, like tiny logs began a downward roll. I caught them before they hit the floor and propped up the stove with a wood wedge.

   Hungry and cold, we made it work. The hot, fresh coffee and scrambled breakfast revived our cold, tired bodies. The silent prayers revived our adventurous spirit and attitude.

   After breakfast we wrapped ourselves in coats and blankets hoping for clouds to clear and part. I was soon thankful for our shed. It doesn’t leak and can’t flood, since water won’t settle in one place long before it too runs out on the uneven side. Even the mice come in out of the rain. We survived the rigors of nature, but soon after bought a 25 ft. Airstream 1979 Land Yacht travel trailer for our “get away retreat.” It remains parked beside our shed, even today.

   Through the years when we all went up to our lot to ‘camp out’ we would still erect the tents for our girls and their families. I and my husband use the trailer, with our dog, except for times when he is feeling like the redneck he is (from Kentucky) and chooses to sleep in the tent, again. I guess I have grown spoiled, but a few more rugged campouts in a tent on the uneven ground is not very comfortable on joints or settling to jumpy nerves, and does not make for a good night’s sleep. And at times there have been signs and the presence of a rattlesnake, bear, cougar, and coyotes around. The deer, we love and welcome.

    On holidays we still all congregate around our communal fire pit roasting marshmallows, making s’mores, ‘cowboy coffee’, grilling steaks, burgers and hotdogs. When there is a fire ban in place for the county which is often the case at times during the last few years because of drought and low water levels, we resort to grilling on gas or charcoal grills we keep stored up there.

    I now laugh at the memory thinking of that weekend up there that Memorial Day, and learned a good lesson. When your together time goes awry, sweeten it with a little laughter, keep your sanity during the adventure, and save the photos and the memory.

    HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD WEEKEND, IF YOU ARE CAMPING OUT.

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Joyce E. Johnson

Making mud pies


From mud pies to gardening I still love to play in the dirt. There are lots of ways to enjoy nature and the great outdoors. Sixty years ago when I was six my mom would give me her old canning jar lids, spoons and bowls to play with in the dirt out beside our house. And of course there was my little ‘oven’ to bake them in: a cardboard box. My ‘cooking and baking’ process was simple. I started with the ‘freshest ingredients’ I could find; what I called ‘clean dirt’ and pulled out the unwanted things like weeds, little bugs or rocks, if any so my pies would be smooth and edible (for me that is). Once I had mixed just the right amount of water with the right amount of dirt I tasted my mixture to test its consistency, then if satisfied I patted them down into the lids and baked them in a hot, slow sun. When dry, I emptied my lids of the coarse over baked pie and would start all over again. When I told my grown girls that I ate some of my own mud pies when I was a child, they could not believe the story from one who hates insects and runs after the bug spray can at the first sight of an ant invasion. Now, when I play with my little grandchildren in the dirt planting a garden or potting flowers I can share my mud pie stories with them and let them know that a little bit of dirt does not hurt, and that mud is a part of nature, one of those things God gave us in this great big outdoors to enjoy. So, for old times sake I went outside and once again made an old-fashioned mud pie in a canning jar lid just for the fun of it, and it brought back memories of those days when I was six. So, here is a photo of my mud pie, and for certain I will show a picture of it to my grandchildren and let them know that making mud pies can be a lot of fun, and tasting them, not so bad, either. 🙂 But, I really did do quite a bit of real gardening this week too. The below photo is one of my potting projects. It was fun playing in that big barrel of dirt, too. 🙂

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Joyce E. Johnson


A seed planted…

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A seed planted, hides

In soil watered till blossomed

Kissed by the sun, grows

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Joyce E. Johnson

DANDELIONS!

DANDELIONS!


Not the bloom I sought,

And too much of what I’ve seen.

Spring: It has arrived.

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Joyce E. Johnson, 2013

A tribute to my mother on Mother’s Day

A tribute to my mother


She was a living example of personified grace

impeccably dressed and vain to a degree

with hazel gray eyes and a pleasant face

with hands that worked hard

and had many jobs.

When I was a child, sick or hurting

it was her hands that comforted my brow,

and it was her hands that guided

direction when firmly felt

affirming her place.

And when we were hungry

it was her hands

that prepared great meals

satisfying all, but all wanting more.

With her hands she taught me how to sew

when I didn’t want to learn,

and taught me how to cook and bake.

She taught me to be gracious,

and taught me how to pray,

how to be thankful for my blessings,

for simple gifts, large and small

and how to reach out to those in love

with kindness and a smile

how to be content with things I already had

and share with those who had much less

For all the things she was to me

and for all I learned from her

I thank God for the mother

I honor today.

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Joyce E. Johnson – 2013



Winifred D. Mielke – Mannhalter

September 17, 1917 – July 17, 2009


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