Thursday, March 26, 2020

Bad Hair Days

I know it's ridiculous, but I have to write about hair. I wear my hair short, and I need trims often. So imagine my dismay when I drove past my hairdresser's to see a big sign on the door that says: CLOSED BY MANDATE.

Okay... it's a small ugh. I get that.  But I thought maybe a focus on something mundane and a little silly, like hair, could bring a laugh or two, and in that vein, I put together today's post.

I've always loved this poem by Edward Lear, Father of the Limerick.

There was an Old Man with a Beard

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, "It is just as I feared!—
Two Owls and a Hen, four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard.

I could NOT find my book with the good illustration of this, but I rather like this guy with the cat in his beard... don't you? (Hint: Once you do a search for unusual hair, the options are endless.) 

It is audacious, but I thought I would follow Lear's limerick with a little poem I wrote a year or so ago, when... ahem... I was moved to write the following:

Demise of an Old Guy’s Prize

Grandpa’s face hair was unruly
Bristly, scraggly, scary… truly!
Grandma noticed Grandpa snoring
Shaved him ‘til his face was boring.

© Karen Eastlund 2018

It seemed the better part of valor to use photos from outside the family to explore this idea. And NO, I did not shave my hubby's face, but I did trim his eyebrows! 

These photos led to the next quote... which pertains to our current predicament.
featured-imageJack Elam and his signature Cowboy hat

Image may contain: possible text that says 'Having trouble forcing yourself to stay home? Shave your eyebrows off. StayingAliveisNotEnough Staying'


Okay, I hope this brought at least a smile, if not a laugh. Here's a fancy hairdo on one of my lovely grands, to leave you with a nice image. (This came from a salon. Just getting the knots out of long hair is enough to undo me.)

Getting bored? Try a fancy hairdo... learn to braid. Try to memorize all those knots that are helpful for sailors and around the house. Personally, I have to work hard to make a square knot instead of a granny. Can you do it?

drawing knots reef knot

Okay, everyone, comb the knots out of your hair and keep safe. It's a hairy time... but you can do it.

Hey! It's Poetry Friday!  You can be part of a Friday blog party called Poetry Friday. This week all the participants will post their links at Tabatha Yeatts: The Opposite of Indifference. Join us!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

A Little Elderberry Lore

When young and living in Nebraska, we used to pick elderberries in the fall to make jelly. Big elderberry bushes grew wild just about everywhere, but especially along the railroad tracks. Here's what they look like.  Each berry is tiny, the size of a small pea, and its juice is very dark. In my opinion, they make the world's best jelly.

Compounds from elderberries can directly inhibit the influenza virus’ entry and replication in human cells, and can help strengthen a person’s immune response to the virus. Image credit: Anemone123.

Recently I heard that elderberries are good at warding off cold and flu symptoms. We might need this, right? Then I found this article in Science News, May 2019, expounding the virtues of elderberries.  "... compounds from elderberries exhibit multiple modes of therapeutic action against influenza infection."

Another source said that elderberries have been used for health purposes for over 2,000 years.

As a precautionary measure, I found an over-the-counter cold and flu preparation based on elderberries at Walgreens. It comes in several forms, but I got tablets that melt on your tongue. Hubby had a cough (no fever)... and I also tried them as a preventative. We agree, the taste is decent!

My most vivid memory of elderberries was making jelly with a friend. My father-in-law showed up one day with (surprise!) a HUGE box of elderberries. My friend Gwen and I worked together to make them into jelly. She had a baby boy in a high chair, and we gave him a single berry. He held it between his four little front teeth and bit. Deep dark purple juice squirted out, staining his lips and soon thereafter most of his face. He must have liked it, I don't recall a fuss. And the jelly was the best! Dark, flavorful, and yummy!

I wrote about elderberry jelly in 2014 and put the poem away... so here, for you, is its debut:

Elderberry Jelly

Pick some plumpish elderberries
Deeply purple, almost black
Cook them in a jelly pot
Make a jellied berry snack

Squeeze the berry juice out slowly
Bubble liquid 'til it's thick
Pour the jellied juice in jars
Pop the top on quick

Taste the deep rich berry flavor
I think no jelly could excel it
Wear your berry purple smile
Who cares that grape outsells it?

© Karen Eastlund

This info should be heeded:
Image result for when and how is it safe to eat elderberries
Cooked ripe elderberries are perfectly edible. Unripe elderberries are poisonous. Raw berries can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, among other symptoms, so be sure to cook them before eating.

I invite you to explore elderberries for health and eating pleasure. Check your farm stands, they often have elderberry jelly on their shelves. Elderberry wine is also mentioned, though I admit I have not tasted it. 

It's Poetry Friday, so join the gang at Michelle Kogan's.  She's highlighting a poem from The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2017-2018 in which I also have a poem. An honor, I'm sure! 

Be good
Be well
Stay safe out there

Get sleep
Wash hands
And please take care.

Best, Karen

Friday, March 13, 2020

Keeping our Collective Chins Up

I don't know about you, but it hasn't been the best week for me.  I won't go into it, just trust me. So, in an effort to keep our collective chins up, I thought I would post a few things that might bring either a smile or some hope.  'Nuff said?  Okay... here goes...

Some quilted hearts, to share my love...

A sweet grandchild smiles from above...

A basket of flowers, vibrant & beauteous...

A Grandfather's hat... clearly hilarious!

A smiling face of sidewalk chalk

The glories of an autumn walk

A sunset tints the ocean rose

A snowman with a stone cold nose

These rhymes and pics... I must impart...
Are simply shared to warm your heart.

And if you, like me, could use a prayer this week, here is a lovely one from the the Felgild Compline:

Calm me, O Lord, as You stilled the storm.
Still me, O lord, keep me from harm.
Let all the tumult within me cease.
Enfold me, Lord, in Your peace.

It's Poetry Friday... find more poetry at Matt Esenwein's Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Friday, March 6, 2020

Corn and Rain

Once upon a time, before machines to do the job, I joined my college roommate in detasseling corn. I think I detasseled just one day, but one day made a strong impression. Unfamiliar with detasseling?  Wikipedia says:  Detasseling corn is removing the immature pollen-producing bodies, the tassel, from the tops of corn (maize) plants and placing them on the ground. It is a form of pollination control, employed to cross-breed, or hybridize, two varieties of corn.

We started early to avoid the worst heat of the day, early enough to see steam hover over the Missouri River as we crossed it. Once at the field we received instructions. Take the tassels off the marked rows, leave them on the unmarked rows. Easy. We could do this.

Into the dewy corn we went, wearing giant plastic bags provided by the seed company to keep us from getting wet or cut by the corn leaves. We soon learned three things: 1) We were both shorter than the cornstalks and reaching the tassels was a considerable effort, 2) the bags were uncomfortable, felt and looked miserable and we sweat like crazy in them...they had to go, and 3) the heavy mud stuck to our shoes and made them impossibly heavy. We were better off barefoot.

Image result for image barefeet in mud
Photo by permission from

The sun rose higher, the day was a proper scorcher and the rows went on and on and on. We laughed when Lois had to shinny up some of the taller stalks just to be able to reach the tassel. The Iowa corn rows were interminable. Mud stuck to our feet and made them humongous. We laughed some more. Did I mention the rows were interminable?

Finally the time came for us to be picked up, but our ride did not show up. We waited. We listened. Yes, we could hear the cornstalks grow! They rustled and squeaked all around us. We waited some more, scanning the sky, hoping for a cloud. A rain shower. Anything. No luck, just relentless sunshine. There was no shade to sit in, and our skin had long since sweated off any sunscreen. Finally our ride came and drove us back to the house, just a few hours before our evening shift at the restaurant.

Years have passed, but that day sticks in my mind. Angry pink sunburn, feet heavy with mud, sore muscles everywhere, and overwhelming fatigue. (Happily, Lois and I can still laugh about it.)

Fast forward to Donna Smith's post last week on Mainely Write, asking her readers if they were pluviophiles? A what?  A lover of rain. A person who finds joy and peace of mind on rainy days.  Well... yes, I am a pluviophile, and part of the reason is my day of detasseling. I had to write about it.

I chose to write a tanka, consisting of 5 lines. Lines 1 and 3 each have 5 syllables, all the other lines have 7. Like its cousin the haiku, a tanka often includes some reference to a season, and often has a turn in the middle. My poem takes place in the cornfield, but in it my wish for rain comes true.

Some people feel the rain, others just get wet. - Bob Marley

Rain fell RAT-A-TAT!
RAT-A-TAT! steam veiled the fields
corn squealed in applause
laughter eased our endless toil
toes splayed wide in heavy mud

© Karen Eastlund

It's Poetry Friday. Join the Poetry Friday gang today at Rebecca Herzog's Sloth Reads.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Still Point

I have practiced balance in yoga classes. Have you?  My balance is usually better on my left side, and a bit of a struggle on my right. In either case, when working on balance, the suggestion is to find a spot in the distance to focus on. A still point. Keep eyes trained on that point, and try to keep balance.

As I thought about balance this week, it came to me that there was another time when I was encouraged to keep my eyes trained on a still point. Some years back I received these words written by Julian of Norwich:

  God is the still point 
at the center 
utterly at home 
God lives in us forever

photo credit to Pixabay

These four phrases come from Julian's book: Enfolded in Love: Daily Readings with Julian of Norwich

Despite the name, Julian was a woman, later sainted by the Anglican church. She lived in the 14th-15th centuries, and her book Revelations of Divine Love, is believed to be the first book ever written by a woman in English.
(The above is taken from Cygnus Blog, a UK magazine exploring mind/body/spirit. Find more here.)

Although these phrases look like a poem, they were culled from Julian's texts and did not originally appear together. I guess they might be considered a blackout poem. At any rate, I have found them to be deeply calming and helpful. I kept them on my refrigerator for years, and even now they remain in my heart and brain.

Just as my grandgirls practice balance on the playground, we benefit from practicing balance, both physical and spiritual. As we go forward, seeking to keep balance in the face of all our challenges, I hope you also will fall back on these words.
God is the still point...

Another of Julian's phrases is a good closing for today.

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

Join others for Spiritual Journey Thursday offerings at Fran's lit bits and pieces.  Thanks for hosting, Fran.

My best to you all...