Archive for June 2014

Nature restores itself after the flood

Scenic river walk and nature refuge

This is a new part of an existing trail that runs along the Big Thompson River in our town. It is a part of the trail that was flooded and damaged in the Sept., 2013 flood causing millions in damage and loss in our town and northern Colorado. Most of the old trails and walking paths had to be rebuilt or repaired since the flood, but it is nature healing itself and replenishing what was damaged and lost that we can celebrate this summer when we see what has ‘come back’, and the trails are once again popular walking/biking places to enjoy. When we walked the trail here recently it was peaceful, the water still and quiet as we remember the raging high water during the flood. The trees have grown up, filled out, and the grass and reeds along the water bank are sprouting up with beautiful, thick foliage. From time to time I will post a photo of our walks along these trails this summer. It has become a special time of worship, communing with God and nature, thankful for what He has blessed us with. 

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Joyce Johnson (2014)

 

Posted June 30, 2014 by Joyce in My Photos, My Writings, Nature Walks, Photography

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When a weed is not really a weed

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Things don’t just happen

without good reason; sometimes

It’s meant for us in

due season, when God allows

weeds to grow in our garden

 

they often come at

times when we’re the least prepared

while tending all else

in our life that matters most

but it’s weeds that test our faith

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Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Posted June 25, 2014 by Joyce in My Photos, My Writings, Nature Walks, Photography, Poems, poetry

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Moose hunting in Colorado- with a camera

 

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On a recent trip across Cameron Pass, (elevation 10,000 + ft.) in the northwest part of our state we spotted these two moose along the road and took these pictures. The moose on the left is  a young male, his antlers still  small, but distinct.  The  moose on the right is a female. There is an estimated 1,700-2.200 moose population in Colorado, but they are hard to find or detect when hunting or looking for them as they blend into their surroundings. So, we were very happy to have found these two grazing near the road. We have taken these day trips several times and this was the first time we have found any, so it made the trip all the more exciting.

The bottom left photo shows the marshland, a prime habitat area where moose are often found. It is located near the town of Walden where we stop, and eat at this very quaint, little cafe. Walden is a small town, typical of a mountain hunters’ community and fun place to stop and explore before heading back home to Loveland.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serene Reflections

Boyde Lake State Park Loveland, Colorado

Boyd Lake State Park, Loveland, Colorado

Serene Reflections

 

A stand of trees where

 nature drinks at this lake shore

and grass and reeds hide

game in shallow waters’ moor

shelters fowl amidst a storm

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Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

 

 

 

 

 

‘Parable’ of the honey bee


Parable of the honey bee

 

Clinging to life it holds on, but failing, its wings heavy from the pollen it carries it offers up;

Others hover near gathering their own and wait respectfully, knowing its fate.

When it’s time the bee succumbs, and others carry on producing what they know to do.

The life of the bee is short; their purpose vital, crucial to the environment.

It is nature’s way, a part of God’s perfect plan.

Like the common bee we live our lives too, within a span of time.

We gather what is important to us. But, it is what we offer up that is the essence

of God’s spirit in us, as a sweet nectar, and aroma that permeates the land.

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Scripture reference – 2 Corinthians 2:15 (NIV translation)

Footnotes:  The above photo is one I took in my back yard garden while watching this bee as it died. I have a good friend who has a bee hive operation as a hobby and watched him at work with his bees. I became very interested in the things I learned about bees, more so than in the past when careful to stand away from them and not be stung. The recent experience while watching and studying bees inspired me to write this ‘parable’, a short devotion about the things we have in common with a mere honey bee, and whether we seek for ourselves those things most important to us, or whether we ‘offer up’ and give back what matters most; our relationship to God, to others, and to our world in general. I love reading the stories and parables in Matthew that Jesus taught his disciples and thought the bee story made a good illustration to use. Comments on this story are welcome, as always with my stories, posts and poems.

Joyce E. Johnson © 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Catacombs – Chapter 23 of The Informant’s Agenda

The Informant’s Agenda, Chapter XXIII (23)

 The Catacombs

Odessa, Ukraine

 “Hi, Vasily. I hope you haven’t been waiting long. I’m sorry I’m a little late.”

He smiled. “No problem. If you’re ready then, we’ll go. We’ve a long day. We’ll be using the headlamps. It’s dark and cold down there.”

“I thought the catacombs were not open to the public. Irina told me they weren’t ready yet, that there’s still work being done in the tunnels.”

“We can get into some parts right now if we go down with the engineer on the project. We’ll be meeting him there.”

Two hours later we descended the narrow passageway deep into the bowels of Odessa’s underground city, and pulled on our headlamps adjusting it to the darkness. An oxygen mask was included. The smell of dampness trapped between centuries old earthen layers of limestone and bedrock filled the interior cavernous tunnels. Compressed clay and mortar filled gaps where water or sand from the Black Sea had seeped through openings leaving its salty residue to merge with the mold.

“Much of this area that is decayed will be sand blasted and redone using a composite of granite and marble, eventually. Electricity will run throughout and plumbing put in. Shops, museums and such will be added in time.”

“Do you wonder if there were any who ever went mad while confined down here under the earth for months or years at a time?” I said.

Vasily nodded. “Possibly. But, it was a fortress designed to shelter them from many things, including their enemies. The alternative was death or captivity. Dating back to the late 1700’s under the reign of Czarina Katherine the Great it would make the Zemlyanka seem like a mere anthill or dugout in comparison. The catacombs are as old as Odessa’s history. Their tentacles stretch for 1,500 miles, the largest and longest on record in the world.” he added.

Our voices seemed to bounce off the walls of the open chambers we entered but when we came through the narrow pass we could hear other voices reverberate through the tunnels we navigated through. We were not alone. Assuming they were the voices of the construction crew Vasily and the engineer did not seem overly concerned we had come so close to encroaching upon their work site.

We continued on, while he told me more of the catacombs’ history.

“Over time leaks and slime deposits from the Black Sea formed the smooth surface on the stone floor beneath giving it that slick, wet finish, so step carefully when coming down into the interior chambers.” He pointed to what looked like hieroglyphic symbols and ancient drawings on the limestone walls. “Early inhabitants of the tunnels used tools to carve pictures leaving their deep impressions for the generations after of the things that went on. All of it tells a story, stories of war, their adversaries and the life they led while in hiding.”

As I stepped from one chamber into another Vasily and the engineer stopped to talk. When I turned back to them to wait for their lead Vasily said, “It’s OK, Monica. I’ll catch up. I just need to speak to the engineer for a moment.”

Nodding, I turned a corner to view another wall. Unaware of any concern, or their conversation I walked through the chamber studying the pictures carved on the walls.

“Oh, this is amazing, all these symbols, drawings and signs. There is one of the Czarina Katherine in a carriage, or troika with a caravan of sorts, wagons following, and Cossack soldiers guarding it.” I mumbled to myself.

It was all so surreal, like De ja vu all over again, the dream I had the night before. The sound of the train with its screeching wheels rolling along the tracks. But, it wasn’t.

It was a hissing sound coming from the direction of a connecting chamber. Then I heard what sounded like an explosion from inside the tunnel and it started filling with a cloudy substance. When I yanked on the oxygen mask and tried to run back towards Vasily and the engineer I could not find them. Walls buckled as if straining under the weight of the earth, large sections broken, lying everywhere.  Scared out of my wits and thinking they might not be able to reach me, or worse that they were caught in the explosion, or cave-in where I’d left them I felt vulnerable and alone in a cloud of sickening fog that smelled like gas.

The dizziness, fatigue and nausea I experienced grew stronger as I braced myself against the walls for support. I screamed for Vasily, the engineer, anyone who could hear, but no one answered or came back. The blackness rushed like a wave, surrounding me. It soon grew quiet, eerily quiet.

There was little I remembered about the turns and passages we came through earlier. Everything happened so fast I could not think clearly, but knew I needed every bit of strength I had left in me to make my way out of there. The tunnels seemed to branch off in all directions and I could not be certain which way to go as I could barely see anything beyond the cloud that smothered what air there was left to breathe. My legs felt heavy, unable to move. My eyes were burning from the gas or smoke emitted in spite of the headlamp and the oxygen mask I wore. My lungs were stinging. Struggling to breathe I yelled again for help. But, no one came. Running my hands along the wall I felt cool air drafts wafting down from fissures nearby and stumbled about following it as I breathed in the fresh salt air and tried to make my way back the way we had come, praying as I went. God, help me. I don’t want to die here. Show me the way to go.

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The above story and characters is fictional, but the Catacombs do exist under the city of Odessa, Ukraine. They hold mysteries and stories as old as the city itself. There is information and images available on Wikipedia and the internet of the catacombs. The above image is one I took from the internet. When I visited the former soviet republics and Russia in 1989 and toured the city of Odessa our tour group was able to see parts of the catacombs open to the public. This  is chapter 23 of, THE INFORMANT’S AGENDA, a novel and work still in progress to be continued as new chapters are drafted and edited. Thank you for following the story if you have been, and for any comments.

Joyce E. Johnson  (2014)

Well-chosen words…

Good writing is like

planting seeds in fertile soil;

well-chosen words placed

where they are most effective

produce the desired results

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The above poem tells what I try to achieve with my writing, but am not always sure I am successful. It is what I have been striving for whenever I write anything; to choose my words well, place them where they do the most good and can be easily understood, interpreted and be concise.  At times it would seem as if I revise or edit more often than necessary. But, often when I think I’m finished I reread it again and suddenly find a spelling error or maybe I will feel a meaning is not expressed well enough for some and I wonder if readers can get exactly just what I was trying to say, and I start over again. A spelling error or word left out at times that I discover later gets frustrating when I find it after I have already posted and have to go back, correct, edit, re-post or update.

Then there is the other thing that totally frustrates me. I have a deteriorating and advancing vision problem and eye disease necessitating me to use about two or so different strength reading glasses at times to be able to see clearly what I am reading, typing, posting and writing. It is called AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration).  It is not so uncommon with people as they get older, but is something that un-nerves me when wanting to get a written piece right and not discover errors later. Even using a recipe when I cook or bake requires close attention and the stronger reader glasses.

So, if I find a misspelled word or one left out or one used incorrectly its back to editing or revising again before I get it right.  And if a reader or writer finds it or wishes to correct me that’s OK too, as I appreciate good feedback. Thanks.  Now, I will once again proofread this before posting. 🙂

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Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

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