Picket Bridge 1886-2019 Bellingham, Washington


old Picket Bridge, built sturdy and strong

many moons ago is the history’s song

with Whatcom Creek rushing below

the soldiers marched to and fro


Copyright ©Jane H. Johann, 2016 "Whatcom Creek" with Pickett Bridge build in 1865 offering a path above the water.

©Jane H. Johann, 2016
“Whatcom Creek” with Pickett Bridge build in 1865 offering a path above the water.


different feet from various walks of life

trod upon it day and night

the years flew by as did the time

still the bridge stood ever so sublime


today its purpose is doublefold

the only home for the humble-souled

the pavement is laid and so are the planks

people  using it without asking their rank


sheltering the homeless safely underneath

in the cold they sleep with shattering teeth

progress they say has come our way

yet so many are left with no place to stay


©Jane H. Johann, 2016
“Shelter for the Homeless”




What Can We Do for the Homeless?

“Bellingham Cares”
Whatcom Creek
Photo Credit:
©Jane H Johann; Jan 1. 2019

Poverty in the USA is growing quickly and we are fast becoming a Third World Country, though few want to acknowledge it. Yes, we have many more safety net programs than most countries. This is a true fact. But the number of homeless is growing more rapidly than are the solutions to help people feel like productive human beings.
Recently, I read that France has made it illegal for their grocery stores or supermarkets to throw out food. Instead they must donate it to a shelter, charity or place that needs food for the hungry. (https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2017/03/24/France-s-food-waste-ban-One-year-o)(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/04/french-law-forbids-food-waste-by-supermarkets) Of course, with this new law, there are the pros and cons. But overall, the principle of the idea is sensible and it should be kept and utilized in all countries! Waste is a terrible thing, especially when we know children in Yemen are starving to death, when someone in Togo jumps into a well because they have no money to feed their family, when people are emaciated and starving! How can we dump the food into a garbage container. I vividly recall the scene from the film, “Dr. Zhivago,” which portrays the upper class dining, drinking and having a ball, while the people below are marching on the streets asking for bread.

Why are so many people on the streets? Why are there families living in cars?

The answer to this dilemma is more than the simplified answer: “They are too lazy to work.”

Yes, there are people on opioids, there are people smoking pot–yes, these are real people who end up living on the streets. But NOT everyone is a drug addict or a pot smoker. There are people who are mentally ill. People who have social anxiety, people who talk to themselves, people who are lost, people who do not seem to belong to anyone, people without family. There are people who for one reason or another, lost their job, and he/she or both parents and their children live in cars or under bridges and are without nothing. There are people living in the sewers of Las Vegas!

What has our world become? A world of have and have-nots. And NOT every fault lies at the feet of those who are without.

No one is going to tell me that a person would rather sit on the cold cement, as I saw on the streets of Bellingham, Washington, because they like the rain pouring on them and the cold wind biting at their bodies!

I have visited Bellingham on four different occasions because my youngest daughter now lives there. While there, I spend my day time walking on the streets, because my daughter is working and I need to do something with my time. I walk and I observe. Occasionally, I engage in conversation with those who are homeless. Yes, they think I am one of them because I am walking everyday. I write as though they are someone from some distant planet! My God–they are people with red blood running through their arteries–just like you and me! I suppose they are observing me too.

One particular day, four women were huddled together drinking coffee and one shouted to me, “Hey, I like your jacket.” I took this as an opportunity to interact with them. There I stood with them and spoke with them for over an hour. I learned a lot. Each woman had a poignant story to tell. Elizabeth lost her trailer because she had been with an abusive man and the police came and confiscated the trailer (yes, I am sure I only got some of the story). Another said she had no family. The third woman said she had been in a hospital but they discharged her and she had nowhere to go. Still another woman said she had been living with her daughter and her two children in a low-income housing project, but she had to leave because she was not allowed to remain with her as the housing stipulation said only her daughter and children could live there. Never mind, that the woman experiences social anxiety, is over 60, and had only a shopping cart filled with her belongings and a cat on a leash. She expressed that she feared going to a shelter because of the men who also stay there. There are no separate facilities, I presume.

There are as many reasons as there are homeless people on the streets.

I saw one person’s attempt to help. One day I was walking along Whatcom Creek and along this creek is a walkway with posts and a guard rail overlooking the waterway. I noticed that several posts had bags on them and one post had a jacket. I have attached the photos below, but I will write what was on each bag in each photo.

Photo #1: “With Metta…for you or a friend, may you be safe. May you be well. May you be warm. May you be happy. 3x”

“Bellingham Cares #1”
Whatcom Creek
Photo Credit:
©Jane H Johann; Jan 1. 2019

Photo #2: This (a jacket) was my brother’s. He traveled the world with this, was smart and talented. I miss him. Let it serve you well!” Peace Sign

“Bellingham Cares #2 Jacket for the Homeless”
Whatcom Creek
Photo Credit:
©Jane H Johann; Jan 1. 2019

Photo #3: “With Metta. May you be safe. May you be well. May you be warm. May you be happy. 3x”

“Bellingham Cares #3”
Whatcom Creek
Photo Credit:
©Jane H Johann; Jan 1. 2019

I have also seen people come down Holly Street and stop their van and hand out sandwiches to those on the streets. Others have given out water and juice bottles. Each day I see the generosity of the people of Bellingham.
And, I also see the dark side. Entrance ways that would provide shelter for the homeless overnight are sealed with an iron gate and lock.

“Locked Entrance”
Bellingham, WA
Photo Credit:
©Jane H Johann; Jan 1. 2019

There are many challenges facing us as a society. We have much work to do!

What can we do?  Unlock our hearts!

children are gifts

              Dedicated to each and everyone of my grandchildren

                                                    and to

  ALL children of Mother Earth

All children of every race

   All children of every faith 


“A Great Grandmother’s Kiss” December 26, 2008. on the day of Nadia’s birth.
Photo credit: c. Jane H. Johann. 2008


delicate beings

entrusted to our care

love baskets

whispering love into the air

hope is within

each child we see

it is up to us

to guide them to BE

what must I do?

I must love them for always

come what may

“love them for always” is all that I can say


monitor:  (VERB)

a person who has the job to watch over something very carefully and record your results over a period of time     


Have We Become a Culture of Monitors?

Picture these events:

We go to our doctor appointment and the nurse monitors our blood pressure. Up and down and around we go.We go to our doctor and we tell her or him our symptoms and she or he tells us to watch ourselves very closely.  (I have already been watching myself closely, that is WHY I am here!) If your toe develops a green color, you may have gangrene and then we can cut if off. Monitor your foot!

We go to Church, and the priest tells us to monitor our behavior. We go to our financial advisor, (in my case, that is my alter ego and my checkbook) and he is monitoring our situation. We go into a bank, and the safety officers are monitoring the comings and goings of various individuals. We watch the highway workers who are monitoring how many accidents occur on the corner without the Stop Sign. We have to wait until a certain number of deaths occur before we install the Stop Sign. After all, what is one human life in our world of a billion plus?

We know the amount of clutter in our garages and basements have the potential for a fire, but we are monitoring the situation and continue to watch the collection grow! We are monitoring the situation.

We know that if we changed one thing in the classroom, such as taking the time to speak to the child as a person, we might just be the only adult who is coming into the child’s life, listening to that child. However, we have tests to correct and forms to fill out to hand into the Principal daily so that he “knows” we are “doing the job!” He is monitoring the paper situation.

Then we have the judge in the courtroom, and we know that alcohol is used daily by the defendant. The judge says he will monitor the situation, by allowing the abuser to spend a night in jail for observation,  while the court clerk takes the fine and builds the prison fund so that his friend who sells to the prisons, will garner a profit. The next day, the alcoholic allowed home, becomes father of the year and beats his children once more. But, hey, the judge, the court system, the Social Service System, the Guardian ad Litem have all done their perfect paper recording job. What else do we want? Children are property– written into law since the Founding Fathers. Who knew?

We are monitoring the situation. We are a Guardian ad Litem, and we collect our $120 per court appearance, read the information, and monitor the situation. We do the perfunctory requirements of our office, but do we actually care what happens to the lives of those children? What do we actually do besides fill out forms and file papers?

We have a widow neighbor living next door, and we talk among ourselves how lonely life is for her now that her children have moved on with their lives and her husband has died. We monitor the situation. Do we think we might invite her over for coffee? Do we think we might offer her a ride to the store? Do you think we might give her a phone call? No, that would be meddling in other people’s business.

How is that the man who lived here for 14 years in our subdivision, and then died in a tragic train accident, and we didn’t know it?  How is it we do not know each other any more?  How is it that the single Mom only gets nasty letters in her mailbox and not one can offer a listening ear or a hand of help when one of the four children loses her way?But we are monitoring our neighbors offenses, I am sure.

So, we continue to monitor the situation. Our bridges are collapsing (remember the horrific deaths when the Minnesota Bridge 9340 met its demise, killing 13 people and injuring 145?) literally!

Our bridges to each other are fragile if they exist at all. We are too busy building walls and fences, rather than a pathway of help.

We have more monitors in this country than anywhere in the world!

Why do we wait for a crisis to occur before we take action?

Isn’t it better to avert destruction, rather than sit and watch the issue continue to fester?

Where have all the DOERS gone?

When and where does action take place?

Do we have to wait for blood to be shed?

When do we go beyond monitoring to action?

Do we just wait for everything to collapse and fall apart?

Whose responsibility is it, if not ours?

Yes, I am sure there are many good people, many good holy people,  many good teachers, many good Principals. many good Social Workers, many good Guardian ad Litems, many good judges,  many good bridge builders in our country.  We just need MORE Doers!

Who of us will apply for the job? Who of us will be a DOER and not just a monitor?

Copyright ©Jane H. Johann, 2016 Mossyrock, Washington, USA

©Jane H. Johann, 2016
Mossyrock, Washington, USA

I have my eye on you…

I am monitoring YOU!!!!!!!

Orphan Adults

Photo Credit
©Jane H. Johann


eyeglasses perched on the forehead

reaching to the cupboard above

as the mind tumbles back to yesterday…

over the grass-covered hillsides

running carefree with friends

giggling and laughing

until the bell rings to line up

the good Sister leads us in prayer

                           then invited, we take our seats

as we sit in desk rows straight

drinking in the words of wisdom

dutifully reciting the spelling words of the week

the numbers adding and subtracting

our moments in time

eyeing the recess bell

hurrying through our brown bag lunch

of peanut butter honey sandwiches

rushing down the staircase to the open air

playing Red Rover Red Rover

let our friends come over

until the learning signal sounds once more

as we crowd into the four-room schoolhouse

none the worst for it as we file in

when Nancy lets out a shriek

for the dead mouse someone left on her chair

geography lessons take us to worlds beyond

then the three o’clock chime

finally delivers us a bit more

we leave more quickly than we rushed in…

Once again we face open time

Our families have left us far behind

Once again we sit and watch the digits disappear

Moments drag on…hitting us hard

Once again we must pick ourselves up

Fighting for life…

For the purpose that once was so clear

Penning our words, frightful to read

Breathe…just breathe….










Lakota Language and the Year of Moons

©Jane H Johann; September 6, 2017 Palmyra, WI

During the summer of 2005, my daughter, Lara, and Sue, a friend of mine, visited South Dakota, and on the way we stopped at St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota. Chamberlain is an interesting town situated on the Eastern bank of the Lake Francis dammed section of the Missouri River. St. Joseph’s Indian School is a residential facility for Lakota children. They provide a home, shelter, clothing, food and an education. I have read that the Lakota language and culture are also taught at the school and integrated in their education and living situation. Each house has “house-parents.”  I have given monthly donations to this school for 14 years–not much–and, now, I am questioning if I am doing the morally correct thing. I wish that a Lakota person from Chamberlain would comment on this matter.  Just yesterday and again today, I have read various reviews of St. Joseph–the pros and cons. In no way do I want the Lakota children exploited. Nor, do I want to support something that is contrary to the Lakota people.

I received a monthly planner from St. Joseph and within it, I found a lovely description of the moons of each month and thought I would share this bit of their culture.

The Lakota People of North America offer us a glimpse into what life was like prior to Global Warming. Their naming of the moons reflects the life that they lived on our Mother Earth and how they interpreted their life through the happenings of Nature.

January:  Wiotekika Wi — “Moon of Hard Times”

February: Cannapopa Wi  —  “Moon of Popping Trees”

March:  Istawicayazan Wi —  ‘Moon of Snow Blindness’

April:  Wihakakta Wi — “Moon of Fattening”

May: Wojupiwi Wi — “Moon of Planting”

June: Wipazuka waste Wi  — “Moon of Good Berries”

July:  Canpasapa Wi —  “Moon of Cherries Blackening”

August:  Wasuton Wi — “Moon of Harvest”

September:  Canwapega Wi — “Moon of Brown Leaves”

October: Canwapekasna Wi –“Moon of Falling Leaves”

November:  Waniyatu Wi — “Moon of Starting Winter”

December:  Tahecapsun Wi “Moon of Shedding Horns”


We need to revisit this peaceful place as they have now added the “Dignity Statue!

(” https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=chamberlain+south+dakota&view

“Dignity is a sculpture on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River near Chamberlain, South Dakota. The 50-foot high stainless steel statue by South Dakota artist laureate Dale Lamphere depicts an Indigenous woman in Plains-style dress receiving a star quilt. According to Lamphere, the sculpture honors the culture of the Lakota and Dakota peoples who are indigenous to South Dakota. Assisting Lamphere were sculptors Tom Trople, Jim Maher, Andy Roltgen, and Grant Standard. Automotive paint expert Brook Loobey assisted with the colors for the quilt, and Albertson Engineering of Rapid City, SD ensured the sculpture would endure the strong winds common in the area.”

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dignity_(statue