Thursday, September 1, 2022

Community, Braiding Sweetgrass, and music...


Thanks to Maureen Ingram for joining our group and hosting this month's gathering of the Spiritual Journey, and for providing the topic of Community as our focus for the month.  You can find her post and the rest of the group here.

I'm currently reading and learning from Braiding Sweetgrass, which is full of wisdom from indigenous tribes, written by Robin Wall Kimmerer. She shares a Thanksgiving Address, a traditional way to begin meetings in the Onondaga Nation. This particular address has been widely shared, and was given by John Stokes and Kanawahientun in 1993: 

Today we have gathered and when we look upon the faces around us, we see that the cycles of life continue.  We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now let us bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People.  Now our minds are one.

I'm trying to let this address sink in, with its emphasis on balance and harmony. Notice that he speaks not of hopes or dreams, but the duty to live in balance and harmony. Likewise, not only within the human community, but also balance and harmony with all living things. In a few words, John Stokes outlines huge challenges. Lifelong challenges. Still... I believe that we all yearn for balance and harmony. To me these two ideals embody community, and imply a possibility that often seems insurmountable. And yet... and yet I agree that it is our duty to work toward them. I especially admire John Stokes' sense of certainty in the final phrase that affirms community:  Now our minds are one. 

Choir has been a particular source of community for me. We gather and work hard with the goals of balance and harmony. I often come back to music as a balm. And so, today I will leave you with music. 

 Many blessings.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Ode to Cake

 In clearing out extraneous documents from my computer, I came upon this ode written by my grandson when he was 12. It warmed my heart, not to mention the heart of my husband who bakes it. Since I'm very proud of both of them, I knew I wanted to share. This cake is a speciality in our house, made from an old Danish recipe entitled Sand Cake:

Sand Cake (Sandkage)  from Danish Home Baking by Karen Berg

1 cup butter  (2 sticks)
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 2/3 cup wheaten flour
6 eggs, separated, whites beaten until stiff  ( 6 large)

Cream butter & sugar
Stir in egg yolks one at a time
Sift the flour and mix thoroughly
Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites
Line a cake pan with thin paper and fill with batter
Bake in a cool oven (300F) for about 1 hour 20 minutes

Baker's Notes: Not very sweet, but good with coffee. I used a tube pan, it fills about 1/3 and does not raise much at all, not that I expected it to.

This cake can be made gluten free by substituting casava flour mixed 1 to 1 with gluten free oat flour. The photo below is of the gluten free. The wheat version has a finer crumb.

Here's Paul's Poem:

Ode to Marvelous Cake

We love spending time with our grandparents
But surely, you'll have to take
That of our visit cake was the best part
Thus this ode to marvelous cake

Oh, the light, sweet, fluffy interior
The part which is hard to bake
I think you would find superior
To anything but more cake

Sure, the grandparents took us bowling
And will bring us to play in the lake
But really, how does that compare?
To the marvelous, fabulous cake?

 -- P D Eastlund, 2021

With thanks to both my grandson, Paul, and my husband, Chris!  Love you both!!!

The Friday gathering is at Leap of Dave where he's tried an etheree and blogs about finding castles and biking. Thanks for hosting, Dave, and good luck with your year ahead.

Friday, August 5, 2022


Yesterday I posted about my love of lakes and loons. When we were just starting out as a family, we lived in Minnesota, where loons are the state bird. The more I saw and heard them, the more I became enamored with them. Loony, you might say.

Laura Purdy Salas has written a beautiful book, Secrets of the Loon, which I pulled out yesterday when thinking about loons. No surprise that Laura's poetry is lovely. I especially admire these lines about the unborn chick:

"squeezed inside an olive egg,
bill meets wing meets folded leg"

To learn more about loons, look for Laura's book.  Also, don't miss this great website about loons:  

Today I'm sharing some loon poems that I started a few years ago and recently revisited. 

thanks to istockphoto for this image...

Ancient Voices

I listen for loons
For their ancient voices
Eerie and echoing 
Drenching the world with sound

Have you heard them
Wailing in raucous harmony
Shrieking in the moonlight
Yoo-hooing from lake to lake?

Have you heard
Low tender voices
Babbling with spouses
Feeding their young in the morning mist?

Like an earnest chick, I stop to listen
Spellbound, astounded 
I treasure these primal wails --
Surely they bless the north woods

© Karen Eastlund

Image by longacre at Pixabay

You can hear the many calls of loons here:

Here's a little loon haiku to end the post:

Tuxedoed loons dive
Deep into crystal waters
Sushi bar below

Hooray! It is Poetry Friday...

Many thanks to Molly Hogan for hosting at Nix the Comfort Zone.  She's sharing her own fabulous baseball-related poems. You'll find links to the whole gang at her site.

Enjoy these last weeks of summer!  

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Summer Spiritual Journey: Time to Be Still

I'm a lake lover. I love to canoe and watch the wildlife along the shore. Before we had children, my hubby and I would go into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota, camping, portaging and canoeing. I still love lake time, but the days of sleeping in a tent on a 1/2 inch pad, and portaging with a Duluth pack on my back, are over.  Now, when I get the chance, a cabin on a lake is the way to go.  

Sometimes we can finagle the whole family to join us for lake time... then we do some hiking, canoeing, exploring. Here are some bits of natural beauty that we found one day. It was fun to gather and arrange, and then put it all back into the woods. Later we had campfire, walked out on the dock and looked at the Milky Way. It is a memory I cherish.

Collection from a hike in the Adirondacks, 2018

The time spent quietly in nature fills my heart and soul. There is no pressure to be on a schedule, to look a certain way, or to perform a task. No traffic snarls. There is just calm and beauty. For me, lake time is time to "Be still and know that I am God."   - Psalm 46:10

The water was cool in September...

For me, a good lake vacation includes loons. I love their magnificent ruby eyes, their elegant tuxedoed bodies, their dignified profile. But most of all I love their eerie calls. I have heard them in the northern lakes in the fall, calling back and forth, wildly raucous deep into the night. I'm convinced they know how to party. And it is sometimes said, in the north woods, that the loon's call signifies that all is well in the woods. 

When I'm on a lake, listening to loons, I do feel that all is well. 

Check out this wonderful website about loons:
And don't miss the various calls of the loons

Who can put this feeling to words better than Mary Oliver?  Here is the beginning and end of her Morning Poem... you can find the rest here.

Morning Poem  by Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.


each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.


I wish you the peace of summer, the joy of burbling water, and the sweetness of laughter.

Thanks to Carol Varsalona for hosting today's Spiritual Journey group and for creating and sharing the beautiful image above.  Join her at her blog for some beautiful summer gratitude, and follow the links to other bloggers in the group.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Three Tiny Poems

 Hello All:

I hope your 4th of July was as fun and relaxing as mine. We had a few folks over, grilled brats, played corn hole, made s'mores, had a fire in the fire pit and lit a few sparklers. Woohoo!

I'm getting ready for a busy week. One granddaughter will be visiting and helping me with crafts at our church Vacation Bible School.  It's a fun challenge and my main concern is energy level. Beam me up some extra energy, okay?

I ran into some old acrostics I had written in the margins of a sudoku, and thought I would share since it's that time of year when we like to have meals outdoors.  

My granddaughters' tea party


 Always a
     Nuisance at
Tea time


A short acrostic is as far as I can get at the moment.  Haha.  But... here's another...


Forget about
          Lolling lazily in the
           Yard...a fly will bite!

 - KE

Oh... and this one sprang to mind also:


Fascinating eyes but
 Lousy table manners,
You must shoo it out!


 Well, that's it folks. I wish you all some good outdoor time without the bother of these two pests.  I have had few bugs this year, but poison ivy has found me twice. It loves me, but I keep treatments on hand so it doesn't last long.

Yes, it is Poetry Friday, hosted this week by Jan at Book Seed Studio.  You are invited!!! Thanks, Jan.

Thursday, June 16, 2022


 Weather often surprises me. This morning I awoke to the deep rumble of thunder and the sputtering patter of rain. What a nice way to wake up. I love a gentle storm. 

I'm so thankful for the many surprises of nature: color, shape, texture, sound, temperature, taste, touch. Every day is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Every day a new show unfolds.

Sunsets are some of the best surprises. They're silence makes them easy to miss, but their deep vibrant colors and constant renewal can be awe inspiring. I recently watched one evolve on my way home from a shopping trip, each permutation more stunning than the last. If only I could have taken a video.

Today I offer you a little poem about sunsets. 

Things to do if You are a Sunset

Sneak in
Put on neon
Invite tickling bird flight
Hopscotch from cloud to cloud
Inspect your reflection on water
Flash one last surprise

- Karen Eastlund

Photo thanks to Don Evenson

I hope you find some dazzling surprises this week, or at least one little surprise. We're enjoying our small harvest of peas. Just six pea plants germinated, but they have produced a nice little harvest of fresh green crunchy sugar snap peas. We pick a few every day or two. Nothing better.

You can find the Poetry Friday gang at Michelle Kogan's.  Thanks for hosting, Michelle.

Image thanks to Linda Mitchell

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Celebrating the Little Things

 I can scarcely believe how fast the days go by. Who can keep up? And yet, I have moments of quiet, hours when I don't know what to do next, when I feel at loose ends. I try to take these hours as a gift, to let myself recalibrate, to let go of ongoing worries and just breathe.  Time to pray. 

This year I tried a few vegetables in my garden along with some flowers. Mixed reviews. 

Nasturtiums are still trying to find their place.  My sources suggest full sun, but leaves seem to burn.

One small tomato plant, my only one, had to be removed. I noticed leaves were yellowing, then some creature ate the top off. I pulled it out and planted another tomato in it's place. This time I put a chicken wire cage over it. 

Green beans were also munched in a few spots.  I'm experimenting, covering them with a thin mesh at night, uncovering during daylight. Tiny bugs are eating the leaves. Still, I love the pink of the blossoms and the hope of a few fresh green beans.

Today I celebrate parsley. I love it in scrambled eggs and salads.

Six pea plants grew from the 20 or so seeds that I planted. Germination rate was not great. I'm learning. The peas also are under a chicken wire cage to keep animals from eating them. I'll have a nice little harvest of sugar snap peas in a day or so, and I will celebrate a small victory. Woo hoo!

Below: witness the hope of next year's raspberries. This plant had a rough beginning, but now perks up.   

Thank you, God

for challenges 

for learnings 

for time to plant, write, pray

for future's pink buds

for each runner and vein of green growth

for pungency 

for crunch.

- Karen Eastlund

Thanks to Ramona for hosting today at Pleasures from the Page.