Archive for February 2014

The oddest tree ever I did see

Walking trail along the Missouri River

Walking trail along the Missouri River

There stood in the woods a tree

with the oddest shape ever I see.

Where is the beaver that chewed

nearly all of the tree now strewed

along the river by me?

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)


The Informant’s Agenda, Chapter XVII (17) Part 2

The Informant’s Agenda

Chapter  XVII (17), Part 2

Relocating

 After changing my password and user name to the next backup one saved I sent Jeremy a message choosing my words carefully knowing he would understand my situation, and  added a priority alert for his immediate attention.

[J. A situation has come up suddenly and I need to delay further contact for a while due to unforeseen circumstances to my already booked schedule. Please wait with replies and responses at this time. Will get back to you at a later time. M.]

 It was past 7:00 p. m. when I called a cab to pick me up, checked out at the desk, paid my bill and left word with the desk clerk that if anything was found in my room I had left behind for them to contact me by e-mail not indicating what I had lost, and then I walked quietly down a dark hallway to the back entrance to wait for my cab.

The driver loaded my luggage and equipment into the trunk just as another car pulled out of the rear parking lot. When we were five or so miles out of Grigoriopol the car once again came into view, three car lengths behind, a black sedan like the one that followed me the day I walked back to Grigoriopol from the cemetery. I could not make out the driver’s face. It was too dark, and the glass tinted.

“Driver, could you take me to the Ayvazovsky Hotel when we get to Odessa?”

“Sure. No problem.”

As we came to the border crossing from Moldova into Ukraine we were stopped at the passport customs kiosk. An officer  checked my passport, visa and ID credentials. The black sedan was right behind us, went through the same check and stayed with us all the way into Odessa until we pulled up to the front entrance to the brightly lit Ayvazovsky. The sedan pulled into a lot across the street and parked. But, the driver remained in the car, the lights turned off.

The cabbie unloaded my bags from the trunk, and then helped the hotel valet load it all onto a luggage cart.

“Thanks for your help.”

“Sure thing. Did you come here alone, into Moldova I mean?” the driver asked.

“Well, I came as far as Moscow with other colleagues, but our business here took us all into different countries, or directions once we landed.”

“Oh. Are you with the media then?”

“No. Not exactly.”

He shrugged. “Just wondered. We still have a lot of old snoops around from the old regime. They make it their business to learn every one else’s. With elections coming up we get a lot of press and media here.”

“Yes, I know. Your country is about to elect a new president aren’t they?”

“Yes. There’s talk that Antonescu hides things from his past and doesn’t want the media…well, nosing around. But, that’s politics, you know? Can’t keep it clean anywhere.”

“True. Does anyone know anything about his past?”

“Oh, there’s some old folks around that knew his family and their background, but Antonescu is a sly ole weasel. Some say he has done a lot for Moldova by creating jobs, helping the economy and all. But, I think he just pays off those to keep quiet, if they know anything. Grigoroui’s opponent wants a real investigation opened that would expose everything, and things on his campaign manager.”

“That’s interesting. How do you know all this, I mean about things hidden in Antonescu’s past?”

“Some of it has been investigated by our own media.  And as a ‘cabbie’ I hear a lot just listening to what’s said from the backseat of a cab.”

“Yes, I’m sure.” I said, smiling. “Well, thank you very much. Here, keep the extra.”

“Thanks. I couldn’t help but notice the car that followed us all the way here from Grigoriopol.” He said, nodding his head in the direction of the parked car across the street in the lot. “But, maybe he just…well, stay safe. Goodnight, miss.”

“Thank you. I will. Goodnight.”

His observance and candid remark sent cold chills down my sweating spine.

After checking in I followed the hotel concierge with my luggage and equipment up to the fourth floor, room # 402, and settled in.

With the door locks secured I dressed for bed, but knew I could not sleep. The hours dragged on keeping me awake and alert to any sounds heard outside my door.

_______________

To be continued…

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Posted February 21, 2014 by Joyce in Fiction, Literary fiction, My Novel, My Writings

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The Informant’s Agenda, Chapter XVII (17), Part 1

The Informant’s Agenda, Chapter XVII (17), Part 1

The next few days Irina and I buried ourselves in census records, family registry books in the local parishes, photocopied and updated databases. We were heading back to Grigoriopol from Chisinau when Vasily called me on my cell phone, asking if I would have lunch with him.

“Sounds as if he’s trying to score some points with you.” Irina said, looking at me as I put down my cell phone.

“I doubt it. I’m sure he just wants to make up for all the times I asked to see some things your people say are too classified, or ‘inaccessible.’”

“OK. But, it’s not me that made up the rules. Remember that.” Irina replied.

“Skip it. So, what’s he like?”

“Vasily? He’s divorced. There are women practically throwing themselves at his feet, trying to get his attention. Do you want to join the ranks? I noticed the way you looked at him that day in his office.”

“Why is it that every time…never mind. Any available or single woman would either be blind, celibate, or inclined towards their own gender to not notice him. I just wanted to know a little about him. That’s all.”

Irina laughed. “Oh, I see. So, you just wanted to make sure you’re not starting something with one already attached? You’re one of those who lives by a stringent ‘code of honor.’ Is that it?”

“Something like that. Besides, what good would it do me to get interested in a man here in this country when I live in another, and will be returning to soon.”

“Oh, Monica, you can step off your holy platform. If he only wants to take you to lunch and show you a good time, what’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing. I don’t expect anything more. And, I am not on some ‘holy platform’ as you call it.”

“OK. So, you just have the same set of rules as the ‘religious’ do then. Is that it? I’ve seen Americans that like to party whatever time of day or night. Then there are those who act all righteous, and have ‘convictions’ as they call it, but are hypocrites when they let their hair down. I’ve never met any yet who can call themselves one of the faithful who never fall.”

“Everyone falls, Irina. We all have flaws. You, me, all of us. I have no problem to admitting mine. Thank God, we’re forgiven. And yes, I have  standards.  And while we’re on the subject. I’ve seen Russians whoop it up plenty when they’ve downed a few stiff shots. So, what about you? Which type are you?”

“To answer your question, I am not religious. I have no time for it or desire to acquire it. Sure, I like my Vodka, same as all Russians here. Are we so very different from you Americans who like your beers?”

Here we go again.  

Irina dropped me off at Olga’s Inn and we parted, once again on a note of contention, always butting heads.

After I logged on to my Quill and Quest blog, posted and updated files and reports, sent copies to my alias account I e-mailed Jeremy, my parents, and friends back home, then deleted all from my laptop.

Finally! Now for a long soak.

Submerged in a tub of hot water and bath salts up to my neck, I rested my head against a rolled up towel. It was pure bliss for the short time it lasted. Unaware of anything else except my own breathing I had just dozed off when I heard a noise come from the other room.

Stepping out of the tub and donning my robe, I walked out into the hallway from my hotel room to look for the source, not sure if someone had once again broken into my room. My first thought was that it was a cleaning lady, but I had a, ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign still hanging on my door from that morning.

The house maid’s cart sat parked beside a room two doors down. As I walked past closed doors looking for her I spotted a man coming out of his room.

His expression was one of puzzled fascination as he looked at my bare feet, wrap-a-round robe, and soap film clinging to my long, wet hair.

“Excuse me sir. But, is the housemaid here? Her cart is parked outside your room,” I said, pointing to it. “I need to talk to her.”

“There is no cleaning maid here. Didn’t she leave you a towel? You want to come in and use mine? I’ll share.” he said, smiling.

“No!” I said, and hurried back to my room, locked the door and wasted no time. After I washed and rinsed the soap and shampoo from my hair, got dried and dressed, I began the process of packing up. It was time to check out and relocate to a hotel in Odessa. That was where most of my work was now focused anyway.

That was when I noticed my USB flash drive was missing, certain I had laid it on the bedside table beside my watch before my bath. Nothing else was missing, everything else already packed up. My flash drive I wore on a little chain around my neck. A thorough search of my suitcases and room and the bathroom proved fruitless. It was nowhere to be found. The worst part was remembering what I had left on my flash drive not yet deleted: research files done on the names,  Antonescu, Krupin, and Grigoroui, even Vasily Kuznetsov.

_______________

To be continued…

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day from Loveland, Colorado. It is the city affectionately known as the ‘land of love’ although that is not how it got its name, Loveland. It is also known for the Valentine Re- mailing Program. Contests open each year for artists and writers to compete with their entry in design and verse for a special Valentine’s Day card selected for the year’s Valentine’s Day card produced and sold in stores and Visitors’ Centers here promoting the city and state tourism. The cards purchased are stamped by resident volunteers with a special logo design stamp, then mailed out by local branches of the U.S. Postal Dept. and sent to cities, states and countries all around the world. It is an annual program and tradition where everyone can get involved in the spirit of Valentine’s Day. By the first of February the city is decorated with big red hearts displayed and placed along the streets to promote this special day. There are Valentine themed events and festivities, and the girl chosen in the Miss Loveland Valentine of the Year contest visits the state capital and presents the Valentine’s Day card and gifts to our governor and state representatives.

It’s a day when love

permeates the air; hearts full

of promise and hope

___________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Posted February 14, 2014 by Joyce in Haiku poems, Love poems, My Writings, Poems, poetry

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Quiet Rest

 QUIET REST

 There is a place of quiet rest

where I can go, and I can find

 inner strength to overcome

all that weighs upon my mind;

where I can feel

His healing touch

and rest assured

and know it’s real.

when I speak His name

with beseeching prayer

I feel His presence

and know He hears.

It’s near the heart

of God that I rest;

It’s in this place

I’ve come to be blessed.

_________

Note: scripture references that inspired the poem above are found in Psalm 62: 1&2, Psalm 91, Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) Below are my own thoughts and interpretations.

 We live in a world where commitments can rob us the time for things most important in our lives. Sometimes, the more we take on and commit to the less we have in us to maintain a balance, or even stay sane. We juggle. We run and rush around; but often cannot ‘rest’. If the body and mind is not at rest our soul isn’t either. We can lose what is most important, substitute or fill the void with things that do not bring lasting satisfaction.

God wants to bring us rest, take the weariness away, and fill the void with peace; a peace that lasts, one that is not temporary. It is on this foundation where we can build our fortress; one standing, firm and solid.  (Psalm 62: 1& 2). We can be like shifting sands that blow, carried along by winds currents, or storms in life. But, God wants to be our rock; unmovable, unchanging, unshakable, a solid foundation.

If we dwell in God’s shelter we need not fear the things that come against us, nor worry over things we cannot control. He’s the wings that cover us, the shadow that harbors us, the armor that shields us, and the fortress and stronghold that protects us, our refuge. (Psalm 91:4). His angels will stand guard over us day and night.  (Psalm 91:11). He will be with us during trouble in whatever form it comes, whatever disease we face whatever the situation, if we acknowledge His name.

God asks for us to give Him our worries so He can give us rest for our souls. His yoke is “easy”, his burden, “light”. He wants us to learn from Him those things which will make our load easier to bear because He takes on the heavy stuff so we don’t have to. (Matthew 11:28-30).

I am thankful to know the one in whom I trust, lean on and rest in.

____________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Posted February 7, 2014 by Joyce in Devotional, Faith, Inspirational Poems, My Writings, Poems

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Go Broncos!

GO BRONCOS!

        

 They break like running

        steeds onto the field, ready;

     Send the Seahawks home!

________________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Posted February 1, 2014 by Joyce in Haiku poems, My Writings, Poems, poetry

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