Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Moon, The Moon... How we love the Moon!

Evenings darken earlier now, and when I go out I notice the moon, right there, shining down on me.  This past week it was a waxing crescent, lightly clouded over and gauzy.  Leaves are beginning to turn, the air is nippy, and the moon looks spooky. Perfect!

Ted Kooser wrote a poem that I like very much, from his collection of poems titled "Winter Mornings: 100 Postcards to Jim Harrison." It begins:

Only a crust of moon is left
to offer the morning,

I can almost feel that crust, rough and dry in my throat. But in spite of that crust sounding like a cold dry leftover, it also sounds intriguing. There's something about the tiny crescent that fascinates and even amuses. Not much to offer the morning, perhaps, but much to offer the imagination.

Speaking of imagination, I'm dedicating some space to a new book by Irene Latham titled The Museum on the Moon: Curious Objects on the Lunar Surface. Myriam Wares illustrated it with just the right tones for the calm bright surfaces of the moon, and Irene wrote poems for each artifact that has been left there. I really like the premise for this book: curious objects that have been left on the moon. What a fascinating topic!

Irene's poems are delightful. I have several favorites, but I'd like to share a bit of this one because in just a few words it made me think about something I had not considered:

Forever Footprints

Human tracks tattoo
Moon's rutted face --

With no wind, no rain
There's no way to erase...

I invite you to find Irene's book and share it. It will be perfect for a classroom or that young person who is enthralled with space.  And don't miss the final pages, which are full of astronauts and timelines and many good notes about the moon and its visitors.  Congratulations, Irene! Stellar!!!

And now... 

How about a fun Moon craft?  I did this with kids ages 4 to 12, and they all loved it.  Mix paint with flour until it looks like paste, brush a thick layer on a paper circle and stamp it with various sized circles. After a day for drying: Tada!!! A moon with craters.  So fun!

I wrote a moon poem some years ago, and decided to rework it for today's blog.  Today is a full moon, by the way... the Harvest Moon!  I hope the clouds give me a chance to see it.

Sister Moon

Come close
Sister Moon
Show me your 
Glowing face
Whisper to me 
Of your mystery
Of beauty, strength, 
And grace

What do you keep
In your thin crescent bowl?
When you melt away
Where do you hide?
What makes you blush
Bright as a cardinal?
What enchantment
Charms the tides?

We're sisters, dear Moon
We share a wealth
Of sunshine 
From above
I'm glad for your glow, 
Little Sister Moon,
And I send you
All my love.

© Karen Eastlund, 2023

It is Poetry Friday, and you are invited to join the gang at 
Jama Rattigan's where she shares some
hilarious poetry.  Click HERE to join the fun.


Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Life at the Speed of Grace: Finding Beauty

 I turn 75 next month. Three quarters of a century! At times it feels like crazy talk, but of course it is true. I have the documentation. (Tiny chuckle inserted here.)

Life is slowing. I was reminded this summer when I overdid getting some chores done and felt several subsequent repercussions. I had to slow down and rest. Just rest. Time to be still and trust. Be still and listen. Be still and know...

What came of it? A lesson in patience. These are a constant need for me. A lesson in gratitude when I began to feel better, when I found some helpful hints on how to go forward. Gratitude for the ability to search and to learn. Gratitude for a body ready to go again. And a lesson in paying attention to my physical self and taking time to take care. Another constant need.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven...  
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8   

No matter the speed, grace continues to offer the best surprises. In the middle of CostCo recently, a little girl shrieked and I looked up. Our eyes met and she gave me the most knowing and beautiful smile that a tiny child could give. Yes! You got my attention. And for that moment of time, we shared a bit of humor that brightened my day.

Seasons come and seasons go. Each day is a chance to identify works of grace (in our church we call them God sightings), to celebrate, explore, find beauty, share laughter, give thanks.

Here are some images of beauty and grace in my world. 

Delicious beefsteak tomatoes from my garden

I'm trying a couple of fall crops this year... a hopeful venture.

Spider flowers/cleome reseed year after year. Summer ends "in the pink!"

While walking I found this blossom in the midst of wreckage

Peperomia at summer's end.

My peperomia looks so healthy now after breathing in the summer's air and light. I'll bring it in for the winter and it will bring me beauty and joy all winter long.

Thanks to Patricia Franz for this prompt and for hosting this month.
You can find her offering and links HERE.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Gerard Manley Hopkins

The summer is nearing its end and I am just beginning to harvest tomatoes. The deer ate all the early ones, but we finally had a lovely one with our dinner last night. And speaking of deer, they were nibbling on some new elderberry bushes again, so I got some peppermint spray and headed out to the yard when there, caught in the act, were two fauns. Still sporting their spots but getting leggy, they ran when we clapped.  Such a heart tug because they are beautiful and graceful, but so destructive.

Two weeks ago was the birthday of Gerard Manley Hopkins.  I just discovered Moonrise, shared below. What a treasure!  

You can find more about Hopkins' life HERE.  and more of his poetry HERE.  

Image by gmccrea from Pixabay


I awoke in the Midsummer not to call night, in the white and the walk of the morning:
The moon, dwindled and thinned to the fringe of a finger-nail held to the candle,
Or paring of paradisaïcal fruit, lovely in waning but lustreless,
Stepped from the stool, drew back from the barrow, of dark Maenefa the mountain;
A cusp still clasped him, a fluke yet fanged him, entangled him, not quit utterly.
This was the prized, the desirable sight, unsought, presented so easily,
Parted me leaf and leaf, divided me, eyelid and eyelid of slumber.

Hopkins always surprises and delights me with his word choices... his "fringe of a finger-nail" and "paring of fruit" in this poem, and elsewhere his "dappled things"  and "shook foil."  

I hope you will find some favorites.

Thanks to Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference for hosting the Poetry Friday roundup today. Believe me when I say that you will not want to miss her hilarious poem.  What a hoot!!! 

Good summer wishes to you all.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Til by turning, turning...

Linda Mitchell suggested the word "turn" as our focus for this month. Funny thing -we both referenced with the Shaker hymn below.  You probably know it, or have heard it: 

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be;
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn, will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come out right.

I remember singing this song but not being sure about the use of "turning, turning" in this instance, so I did a little digging.

This song was relatively unknown throughout our country until Aaron Copland used it in Appalachian Spring. The origin of the song, however, was in 1848 from Elder Joseph Brackett of a Shaker community. Some histories claim it was Elder Joseph Brackett's own song, and mention that Eldress Caroline Helfrich remembered seeing him sing it in a meeting room, turning about "with his coat tails a-flying." You can read more history HERE.

Shaker's believed in living a simple life, going so far as to embrace celibacy and communal living. You may have seen their beautiful but simple furniture, unadorned but graceful in line. Their beliefs stressed humility, so "to bow and bend" was their way. 

"To turn, turn, will be our delight, Till by turning, turning we come out right"... the song accompanies a dance, but aside from the dance steps, does "to turn, turn" have a deeper meaning?

I remembered a lesson from long ago, and found this quote which confirmed my memory: from the website... MORE HERE:

You may be surprised to learn the word repent in the Greek New Testament simply means to turn around. It was a military term describing a soldier marching in one direction and doing an about-face, 180-degree turn. And when it’s used spiritually, it means to change your heart, mind, and habits.

Does this Shaker song speak of "turning" in the sense of repentance? Maybe. Isn't it by repentance that we "come out right?" Don't we all have times when we need to turn, to rethink a matter? To bend some... to practice humility?

"To turn, turn, will be our delight" brought another thought. The result of repentance is often a sense of easing our load, getting a weight off our chest. Yes, that is a delight. 

I wish I could have seen Elder Brackett's dance and asked him about these words. The concept of turning has long been part of the Christian tradition, and I suspect he knew that. Still, it didn't come to my mind right away, I had to think on it. How about you?

"Turn" has many definitions. I look forward to your thoughts.

I wanted to try a Fibonacci poem, and the words of this simple song inspired me. As often happens, one poem begets another:

To Turn: A Fibonacci Poem

Lift your heart
Turn as faith guides you
Delight in simplicity's grace

© Karen Eastlund


I turn to you, my friends, with these questions and comments, and I invite your response.

Many thanks to Linda Mitchell for this prompt and for hosting this month's Spiritual Journey.  You can find her post and links to others HERE.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Summer has its ways...

 Welcome to my musings on summer as a spiritual journey.  This month is hosted by Carol Varsalona... find her blog and links to others on this journey HERE. Thanks for hosting, Carol.  

Margaret Simon posted a video prompt on the summer solstice, and I wrote to it but never posted, so I will add it here. 

Water rushes
Heron wings away
One day lingers -- summer!

© Karen Eastlund

Summer is in full swing, and I'm trying to keep up. The weeks have been busy. Summer does not hold back.

I started spring with high intentions for my little garden. My best crop has been sugar snap peas. This is my second attempt at growing them, and I'm pleased to report a bumper crop. I had enough peapods to share with our guests on the 4th and still have a good bowl left. 

My bee balm is beautiful now. Bees buzz around it, and I love the color.

I made a yummy cake with my rhubarb, and my parsley is gorgeous.  

I had to restart my chives because of leaf miners, but the new ones are coming along nicely. I love chives in cottage cheese. Chock that up to my midwest heritage.   

As you can see, I have much to be thankful for. The verse below asks us to give thanks in all things. That is my challenge in the summer, because there are bits of summer that aren't lovely. You know how it is. Summer has its ways.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

My one lonely beefsteak tomato plant, which yesterday had 13 tomatoes on it, the largest about the size of a lemon, today has only two marble-sized tomatoes. Some creature got them, and I hope it is happy. I am not. Bah!!!

Two streaks of poison ivy currently decorate my arms. Where did it come from? Nonetheless, I am thankful for the modern remedies.

The sun and the heat are very hard on me. Summer ends up a balancing act between full coverage and staying cool, and heat exhaustion creeps up more often as I age. 

Oh summer!  You are a beauty. You are a challenge. You are a time of growth, both in nature and in the spiritual realm.  I am thankful for summer, and I appreciate its beauty, but I reserve my highest regards for the season to come. 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Hope is a Beautiful Thing

Thanks to Dave Roller for hosting our Spiritual Journey this month.  Find his post and links to other Spiritual Journey posts HERE.  

In a spurt of energy, with the beauty and renewal of spring as my prompt, I stepped into a number of activities that have required a lot of energy. I borrowed an historical exhibit for our town that ended up being way bigger than I realized. I added a little to my garden. I joined a weekly prayer group. Tomorrow a big landscaping job will begin in our front yard. And I agreed to plan and lead the craft sessions at our Vacation Bible School. 

What on earth was I thinking? I could write of optimism, but I think there's a better word: Hope. I hoped I could do these things.  Age and stage make a mark, but hope keeps me going, and hope is a beautiful thing.

My garden whispers hope every day...

In choir we sing: My hope is in the Lord, who gave himself for me...

And then I came upon this poem by Lisel Mueller:


It hovers in dark corners
before the lights are turned on,
it shakes sleep from its eyes
and drops from mushroom gills,
it explodes in the starry heads
of dandelions turned sages,
it sticks to the wings of green angels
that sail from the tops of maples.


It is the singular gift
we cannot destroy in ourselves,
the argument that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God.

Read the entire poem and enjoy Tom Petty's beautiful music HERE.

During Covid, someone left this gift on my doorstep...

Romans 5:5

  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

I am thankful for the hope and the energy that has stood me in good stead.  Hope is a thing of beauty. I hope you find its beauty also.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

A Time of Blooms

 Happy Friday. It has been a crazy busy time here, and I've missed several Fridays. Alas!  I must make amends. And so, just to get my foot back in the door, I am posting some blooms from my garden, and some poetry to go with them.  Enjoy.

The poem I've chosen for this iris speaks to me of the May garden, which blooms gloriously and then is gone.  I wait all year for this...

Snow Geese
by Mary Oliver

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
to ask
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.

Read the rest of Snow Geese HERE.

The peonies too, unfold their tight fists now with such elegance. Another of Mary Oliver's poems reminds me of this peony, her poem titled Swan, which speaks of "a perfect commotion of silk and linen."  You can read it HERE.

The peonies seem to demand some Japanese poetry... three haikus:

a rice bowl
filled to the brim
one peony
~ Buson

Dear, dear,
What a fat, happy face it has,
This peony!
– Issa

a bee
staggers out
of the peony

My garden is doing well so far. I have hopes of peas soon, and salad turnips. More poems in the offing.

Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Patricia Franz at Reverie.  Don't miss her celebration of 40 years of marriage which includes a Doobie Brothers poem. Thanks, Patricia!

Saturday, April 29, 2023

2023 Progressive Poem is HERE!

 It's Saturday, April 29th, and the Progressive Poem is HERE!  April is National Poetry Month, and the wonderful poets of the Poetry Friday community take turns adding lines to a poem that emerges/progresses over the month. This lovely tradition was started by Irene Latham and is currently curated by Margaret Simon. My thanks to both of them for this opportunity. This is my second time to participate, and both times I have signed up for the penultimate line. Whether I'm brave or foolish, it's too late now, the challenge is on...

There are few rules other than the poem must be for children, and previous lines cannot be changed without permission from the poet. So... here we are, almost at the end of the month, and below you can find the poem so far.

My line is added in red at the end.  Michelle Kogan will add the last line tomorrow. You can see the list of poets and their websites at the bottom of the page. 

Suddenly everything fell into place
like raindrops hitting soil and sinking in.

When morning first poked me, I’d wished it away
my mind in the mist, muddled, confused.

Was this a dream or reality, rousing my response?
The sun surged, urging me to join in its rising,

Rising like a crystal ball reflecting on morning dew.
I jumped out of bed, ready to explore the day.

My feet pull me outside and into the garden
Where lilies and bees weave…but wait! What’s that?

A bevy of bunnies jart and dart and play in the clover.
A dog barks and flash, the bunderstorm is over.

I breathe-brave, quiet. Like a seed,
as the day, foretold in my dream, ventured upon me.

Sunbeams guided me to the gate overgrown with wisteria
where I spotted the note tied to the gate.

As I reached the gnarled gate, pollen floated like fairy dust into my face. Aaah Choo!
Enter, if you must. We’ve been waiting for you.

Not giving the curious note a thought, I pushed the gate open and ran through.
Stopped in my tracks, eyes wide in awe—can this really be true?

Huge mushrooms for tables, vines twined into chairs,
A flutter of fairies filled flowery teawares 

With glazed nut cakes and apple blossom tea,
I heard soft whispers from behind a tree. Oh my! They had been “waiting for me!”

Still brave, but cautious, I waited for them.
Forested friends filled the glade. “You’ve arrived! Let the reverie begin!”

I laughed as my bare feet danced across the dew-soaked grass,
matching the beat of paws, claws, and wings—around me, above me.

Tea cakes and hugs, twice all around, then silly games and races 'til the sun slid down

Here are the poets and their links. And now, on to Michelle Kogan for the final line. Take it away, Michelle!

April 1 Mary Lee Hahn, Another Year of Reading

April 2 Heidi Mordhorst, My Juicy Little Universe

April 3 Tabatha, The Opposite of Indifference

April 4 Buffy Silverman

April 5 Rose Cappelli, Imagine the Possibilities

April 6 Donna Smith, Mainely Write

April 7 Margaret Simon, Reflections on the Teche

April 8 Leigh Anne, A Day in the Life

April 9 Linda Mitchell, A Word Edgewise

April 10 Denise Krebs, Dare to Care

April 11 Emma Roller, Penguins and Poems

April 12 Dave Roller, Leap Of Dave

April 13 Irene Latham Live You Poem

April 14 Janice Scully, Salt City Verse

April 15 Jone Rush MacCulloch

April 16 Linda Baie, TeacherDance

April 17 Carol Varsalona, Beyond Literacy Link

April 18 Marcie Atkins

April 19 Carol Labuzzetta at The Apples in My Orchard 

April 20 Cathy Hutter, Poeturescapes

April 21 Sarah Grace Tuttle,  Sarah Grace Tuttle’s Blog,

April 22 Marilyn Garcia

April 23 Catherine,  Reading to the Core

April 24 Janet Fagal, hosted by Tabatha, The Opposite of Indifference

April 25 Ruth, There is no Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town

April 26 Patricia J. Franz, Reverie

April 27 Theresa Gaughan, Theresa’s Teaching Tidbits

April 28 Karin Fisher-Golton, Still in Awe Blog

April 29 Karen Eastlund, Karen’s Got a Blog

April 30 Michelle Kogan Illustration, Painting, and Writing

Thursday, April 27, 2023

In Celebration of the Pencil

 There's something about writing with a pencil. When I find the perfect one... the "right" one... my hand fairly flies across the page. The lead should be soft enough to make a satisfying mark, and the ease of erasure removes the anxiety of putting words on the page. A pencil mark is easy to change, and the pencil feels good in my hand. Confident. Easy. Ready to go.

Some time back I wrote this pencil poem, and I don't think I've shared it here, so here goes:

Hug it!

Have you hugged your pencil?
It's a handy utensil
It loves to make 
A good point

It doodles, erases
It even makes faces!
And it wiggles your words
Into print.

© Karen Eastlund

Thanks for joining me today, and a huge thanks to Ruth who is hosting today from Uganda!  Click HERE to find her post and links to the rest of the gang in the Poetry Friday community.

Special Alert: 

Check back here tomorrow for my penultimate line to the 

2023 Progressive Poem. 

Thursday, April 13, 2023

A Lesson in Flexibility and Pride

 It's National Poetry Month, and many of my poet friends are pulling out all the stops to celebrate.  I volunteered to add a line in the Progressive Poem, and offered to give a poetry program for school-aged children at my library.  Today I report on that adventure.

The librarian told me they weren't getting many school-aged children. Sad news. I called the day before the program. No one was signed up. I decided to show up anyway. When I arrived she said that two children were signed up, ages 7 and 4.

My plan was to engage in conversation about poetry, elicit some poems they might know and build on that. So... we started... yes, they knew several simple poems. I read some more and shared a poem or two of mine.

The four-year-old stayed with us for a while, then went to the lego table. His sister and I talked and read, enjoying especially some poems for two-voices. She is an excellent reader already at 7.  At some point I shared a photo from Margaret Simon's blog and elicited her reactions to it:

Then I read my poem:

Yes, yes!
Yes, I did!
I caught this fish
I did!

Mama's proud
Daddy too
I caught this fish!!!
I'm over the moon

    © Karen Eastlund

I had promised to send each child home with a poem in their pocket.  

My young friend, Fatima, chose the paper with the butterfly and bow, and we used my poem as a starting place to write her original poem:

Yes, yes!
Yes, I did!
I read this book
I did!

Amma's proud
Abba's proud too
I read this book
I'm over the moon!
    - Fatima

Fatima was proud of her poem, and she chose to stand up and read it to her mom, brother, the librarian and me. Of course we all clapped and congratulated her.

(An aside: Amy Ludwig VanDerwater had graciously offered to let me use one of her poems as a mentor text, but because of the age of the child, I used my own. Thanks, Amy.)

It's been some years since I've given a library program, and although I had hoped for an older group, and at least 4 children, I felt that sharing with one child helped me learn what worked and what didn't. The younger brother didn't care to make a poem for his pocket, and I didn't feel that a 4-year-old was ready for my offering, so that was okay. 

Just as David L. Harrison wrote this week after no one showed up for a poetry reading, we poets can be flexible... and proud. In retrospect, I'm happy with the outcome. One little girl went home with a poem in her pocket.  I'm proud of that.

Today's Poetry Friday gathering is hosted by Jone Ruth MacCulloch. Click HERE. Jone is hosting a collection of poems found in classic books. What a fun idea!  Be sure to check it out.