Foxwillow – Jim and Helen Johnson at home


Looking in a new direction

Category: General – HelenJr 11 pm

I am trying to get back to sharing my thoughts on a regular basis. But I have to learn the entire process again. This is not a real post. This is only an attempt to create a test bed to see how images and text present themselves in a longer post. Then it is ltime for me to go to bed and try again tomorrow.


Frost On The Window

Category: General – Helen 5 pm

Frost On The Window

Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

When it is extremely cold here in Minnesota, the air holds nothing. The light is stark and clear and bright. The sun, itself, seems hard and brittle. But, I think there is such a thing as too much clarity. My camera and I prefer to enjoy the gentler light passing through my dusty windows.

This morning’s note: Yesterday it was -15F (-26 for you “C” folks). But now it has warmed to -1, enough for a lovely fresh coat of snow.
Poem clip:
And o’er the window crept the hoary frost,
With many a wayward freak and curious antic,
In varied lines, that quaintly blent and crossed
In tracery romantic.
– Mrs. Rhoda A. Faulkner, FROST ON THE WINDOW…

Uploaded by HelenJr on 6 Feb ’07, 6.02am CST.


Shady lane refreshing…

Category: General – Helen 8 am

Shady lane refreshing…

Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

I like dirt roads. As I pass, I like to see the trace of those who passed before. I like to leave a mark and carry a bit of that road with me as I go.

And there’s something about stirring up a cloud of dust behind me that makes me smile.
Shady lanes, refreshing,
Teach me to be a blessing
To some weary soul each day,
Friends or foes who pass my way.
– Chr Richardt (1861) / Carl Mortensen, trans SD Rodholm

(for my Evening Star Project set)


Begger’s Gift

Category: General – Helen 1 am

Begger’s Gift

Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

Last winter, I fussed at the squirrels on my bird feeders. They made a terrible mess throwing seed here and there. But, this summer, the only flowers on my deck are from the seeds the squirrels scattered in my planters. The beggers left me gifts.


Gone Fishing

Category: General – Helen 7 pm

Dragonfly’s Lair

Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

We took a boat ride.
He planned to fish.
I said I would, too.
But my camera just wouldn’t be still. It called to me from it’s bag under the seat.

And so we passed a peaceful afternoon.
He sought the possibilities hidden below the water’s surface.
I worked to catch the possibilities right before my eyes.
His efforts were more fruitful than mine. And yet, the day is not wasted. It gave me pleasure that will last.


Flutter By

Category: General – Helen 4 am

Flutter By

Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

On Sunday, I happened on this cluster of butterflies, piled atop each other at the edge of a puddle. I have to admire the butterflies’ life. They float with the breezes, sip at the most colorful locations, collect admiring glances wherever they go. They do all that with seemingly little effort or planning. I know people like that. But, I’ve always thought that a person should work hard and make something of his life.

It made me wonder…. what exactly does a butterfly do to earn its keep in the world? Perhaps he is simply here to remind me that, sometimes, just being is enough.
A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam. For a brief moment its glory and beauty belong to our world. But then it flies on again, and though we wish it could have stayed, we feel so lucky just to have seen it.
– Anonymous


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Category: General – Helen 5 pm

Minnehaha Falls – Satin

Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

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Crocus Crowds

Category: General – Helen 7 am

Crocus Crowds

Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

How do you know, deep underground,
Hid in your bed from sight and sound,
Without a turn in temperature,
With weather life can scarce endure,
That light has won a fraction’s strength,
And day put on some moments’ length,
Whereof in merest rote will come,
Weeks hence, mild airs that do not numb;
O crocus root, how do you know,
How do you know?
-Thomas Hardy, The Year’s Awakening
As I stand near the swamp now, the air is full of the smell of fresh mud and the sounds of tiny frog love songs. How do I sqeeze this excitement of new beginnings into my pictures? I haven’t found that yet. Come on by and sit with me. I want to share this wonderment with the world.

Uploaded by HelenJr on 13 Apr ’06, 8.01am CDT.


Watched held watcher, eye to eye.

Category: General – Helen 7 am


Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

There were five deer wandering through yesterday. This one I’d know in a moment if I’d seen her before. Hind right quarter shattered and healed, but the leg completely useless. She was likely caught by a car in the dark. I imagine the car was easily repaired and the driver has long-since forgotten.

But don’t be too sad for her. She survived. Quite well, it seems. And in the natural world, it’s all about survival. Bad stuff happens. The world moves on. The individual makes of it what she can.

We all have similar stories in our lives.


Birdie With a Yellow Bill

Category: General – Helen 4 pm

Birdie With a Yellow Bill

Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

A birdie with a yellow bill
Hopped upon my window sill,
Cocked his shining eye and said:
“Ain’t you ‘shamed, you sleepy-head!”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
Just when I thought spring had arrived early, she surprised us with a snow storm. Inches of fluffy stuff hang on the branches like marshmallows. The birds flock to our feeders and water because the seed easily accessible.

This is the first robin I have ever seen come this close. She came for the water and returned with friends. I say she because today I learned to tell the difference between male and female robins. (Of course, the robins knew all along 🙂 )


Year of Blessings

Category: General – Helen 1 pm

Year of Blessings

Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

Six years ago, this week, I started chemotherapy for breast cancer. It was the same day that we celebrated my granddaughter’s first month of life.

2000 was an inconvenient year, full of discomforts and worries. But also a year of blessings and miracles, challenges and new understanding.

I’ll spare you the small lessons, and give you the most important I learned: Life is like a pocket… It’s what you put into that counts. Even when it seems empty, it’s just waiting for you to add something. Fill it well, use it every day, share it freely.

In the end, I would like to be able to say “Now that’s been a well used pocket!”

Uploaded by HelenJr on 7 Jan ’06, 12.33pm CST.


It beckoned sweetly through the darkness.

Category: General – Helen 7 am

Dual pleasure: perk me up, calm me down.

Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

Returning from up north on Monday mornings…. I leave alone and very early to get back in time for work (a bit late). When it’s cold and dark and lonely, a stop for a hot cup of coffee is welcome. Doesn’t need to be fancy, just friendly. It’s the way I start the trip. It’s the way I say good-bye to the weekend.

This got me thinking. my first personal coffe experience (aside from my mother who is a five-cup-a-day person) was when I needed something warm to hold (not drink) during cold autumn football games.

Since then, I’ve come to enjoy it. But only partly for the taste. Largely, it is something more… the aroma in the morning, the sharingness of coffee and conversation late at night, the steam in my face from a thermos during a cold winter walk, a warm break on a long drive.

Yes, coffee is more an experience than a taste for me. It is warmth and sharing. I never drink alone.


Look up, to find your way.

Category: General – Helen 6 am

Look Up

Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

“In very truth he was, the noblest work of God — an honest man.”
– by Abraham Lincoln, From the February 8, 1842 Eulogy of Benjamin Ferguson

“In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares.”
– by Araham Lincoln, From the December 23, 1862 Letter to Fanny McCullough

“I know not how to aid you, save in the assurance of one of mature age, and much severe experience, that you can not fail, if you resolutely determine, that you will not.”
– by Abraham Lincoln, From the July 22, 1860 Letter to George Latham
This picture, taken by my father in 1952, has always fascinated me. It’s almost a Norman Rockwell view. Whenever I visit Washington, DC, I visit the Lincoln Memorial. It brings back to me, not the messages that Lincoln would have me learn (sorry Mr. Lincoln), but the messages that my mother and father would have me learn from even an early age.

So why post this picture? Just because, today, I was reminded of how much I have learned from them about being a person.


Hard frost last night – Rose Leaf

Category: General – Helen 9 pm

Hard frost last night – Rose Leaf

Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

Our first hard frost of the season. It’s the only one that matters. After the frost, the garden is done. It is always so decieving….. in the morning, the leaves and flowers stand proud and jeweled. But as the sun warms them, there is nothing left to keep them standing. They wilt, hang limply, turn black. Now we know that winter will really come. Time to get out the mittens.


Twin Cities Marathon, Mile 25

Category: General – Helen 5 am

PA0260421 – Twin Cities Marathon, Mile 25

Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

Focus on the finish. All else follows.
I’ve stood on the curb and cheered runners on in the Twin Ciries Marathon for several years now. It must be one of the most beautiful maarathons in the country. Crisp air, autumn colors in the trees. It should be a joy to run. But once I tried a 5K run (a mere shadow of the 26 mile marathon) I realized that the runners never see the scenery.

At the beginning is the crush of 10,000 people eager for the test. By mile 25, some are limping, some are crying, most are hurting, all are simply focussing on putting one foot in fromt of the other, again, again, again. At the end is simply the gratitude that it is over. They will likely wait till tomorrow to be proud.

And, proud they should be.


Minnesota State Fair, Horticulture Building, Dahlias

Category: General – Helen 11 pm


Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

When my daughter was born 30 years ago, my grandfather went into his garden and cut all of his dahlias to honor his first great-grandchild. We came home from the hospital to a house filled with this amazing array of flowers in vases, mason jars, and coffee cans on every available surface.

I think of him whenever I see dahlias now.


The fish that got away

Category: General – Helen 11 am

P82951141 – Lost

Originally uploaded by HelenJr.

…the fish that got away was the biggest
…the dream you can’t quite remember was the sweetest
…the opportunity missed would have changed your future
….the picture lost was the best you’ll ever take.

Last Sunday, I somehow lost 165 of the best pictures I’ll ever take. One moment, they were safely sitting on that little magic card in my camera. Next minute, my computer beeped and refused to read them. Gone, gone, gone. So disappointing.

I’m not sure how this experience will affect me. Perhaps I will chase the memory of those shots, desparately trying to recreate what I have lost. But, I hope I will have learned that memories can still be sweet without the affirmtion of a photo. And that the real joy of photography is in siezing the new opportunity rather than dwelling on the last.

Carpe Diem, I think.


Tiny World

Category: General – Helen 7 am

P70822751 – Japanese Beetle?

Originally uploaded by jhjohnso/helen.

I try to take a walk every day. I used to focus on where I was trying to get. I could walk pretty fast and the accomplishment made me feel good. These days I walk more slowly and cover less distance. But I have realized that there is a lot to see along the way. Things that I hadn’t taken time to notice before. So now a walk with my head down and pause often to investigate more.

Is it human to always need a focus near or far? It seems difficult to see both at the same time.


Bad Hair Day

Category: General – Helen 9 pm

P61104361 – Bad Hair Day

Originally uploaded by jhjohnso.

This picture reminds me of when I lost my hair during chemotherapy in 2000. It came out in clumps. Looked awful. I actually used sticky tape on my scalp to finish the job cleanly. So frightening!

At first, my song was a lament:
~oh, vanity lost!
~hidden bumps and lumps exposed.
~feeling truly naked

Eventually, it turned to a Song of Thanksgiving:
~all secrets revealed
~a surpprising gift of freedom
~proud, grateful, and bald

I am now so much wiser on two counts. 1)I know that what’s under the hair is no big deal. 2)I know that even a bad haircut grows out eventually.

Mosquito Haiku

Category: General – Helen 11 am

P6110424x – mosquito haiku

Originally uploaded by jhjohnso.

unfortunate soul
cause of death: blunt force trauma
alas, no one mourns

I have neglected the smaller creatures (like insects) in my musings. Perhaps they lead interesting lives, as well. I suspect that it’s all a matter of perspective.