Daily Prompt: Through the Window


“Go to the nearest window. Look out for a full minute. Write about what you saw.” http://dailypost.wordpress.com

Today the beautiful view is a soft gentle grey, with evergreen branches and other trees in contrast. Lake Michigan and the sky are the same at this minute. There are whitecaps rolling to shore. Low energy lights are on in the house.

I also spend many hours a day in a tiny room that looks into the backyard and to a birch tree, which shelters my room and has been part of my life for over two decades. The leaves fall; the leaves return. We took my big desk apart – a counter top on file cabinets – when we had to rebuild the house from the inside. I did not put it back together the same way, because I saw my life had changed. File cabinets line a wall. A recliner is the only chair. This is a place for prayer, reading and new ideas to arrive.

Yesterday I went grocery shopping at Piggly Wiggly in Cedar Grove. The person ahead of me was speaking of the passing of someone, so you well know her story caught my empathy. Last week was the anniversary of my mother’s passing and also her birthday. So I shared too. I remembered to bring my reusable cloth bags, but was too absorbed to put my reading glasses on for the charge machine. The kind person helping me offered to handle things if I “couldn’t see.” Then on the way home, the willows looked gold, but it seems a little early.

I used to feel clumsy and out of place sometimes, when first learning my way in small towns, after the city, and a new life. Now I don’t mind.

One moment, one day, at a time … and a new chapter falls into place. I’m grateful I know the feelings of a new person, a new place.

And when I was teaching, a course is new each time it is taught.

A writer’s life, to coin a phrase. Not knowing so much every day. How the pages will be written. What new ideas will arrive. It is an act of faith, to create something new. The afternoon can be so different than the morning. A bird flies by the window in the fog.

“Heart tiles background” image: wpclipartcom.

Daily Prompt: Musical


The WordPress prompt today asks, “What role does music play in your life?” http://dailypost.wordpress.com

Music is one of God’s most special gifts. I cannot imagine life without music. The music of the wind, of the water, and poetry. I still read the Psalms and other poetry aloud all the time, as I believe this helps with writing. There are days when I think I can’t write a poem or any prose, and I read, and then perhaps I look out the same windows–and lo and behold, what I see presents itself in the form of a note for my gratitude journal, a haiku, tanka, or simply my own free verse style.

And it’s fine if nothing wants to form into something I would post. All in due time. REST is essential to creativity I feel. I’ve known fallow fields for long times.

I grew up at St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. So my earliest memories of music are the liturgy and the hymns. I also attended church, and served as a teacher, later on, in a day care center, schools, and a nursing home. Music everywhere.

Many contemporary artists spoke to my experiences when I was young: Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Emmylou Harris, Amy Grant, and so many others. I was searching for comfort often, as well as the sheer beauty of art. I can see reading this list that I was drawn most to the artists who write their songs. Emmylou Harris is also a great interpreter of songs–also a very special gift. I try to stretch and listen to new composers as well–many genres of music.

I remember Stevie advising young artists to write their own songs, if they wished to still be in the music business at her age. And being healthy, taking care, pacing oneself.

In Heaven, I will be able to sing. And I can sing now too…the heart matters most.

The image is from TILE DESIGNS, courtesy of Dover Publications.



Thanks for all your kind comments, and I’m enjoying your blogs as well. This is a special week for me, as I am almost finished with good drafts of Haiku Lessons, for the elementary grades, which will be offered for free at The Haiku Foundation. Jim Kacian is the Editor.

One of my strengths when I was in the academic world was being able to integrate various sources in research papers. My dissertation at Northern Illinois University in 1987 was based on the effective instruction literature. Some things do not change, and I also have spent countless hours reading and studying this year (2012 and continuing in this lovely new year) to update my knowledge in education and to learn more about haiku.

I learn a lot daily at The Haiku Foundation (THF). I even entered their current HaikuNow! International Contest, in the Traditional Haiku category. The other two categories are Contemporary Haiku and Innovative Haiku. Please see their website for rules and the deadline for entering the contests. http://thehaikufoundation.org. I have not been in the habit of entering contests, but thought it would be fun to participate–and it is free. THF is non-profit.

I left teaching almost 20 years ago, the same year I earned tenure at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. Beautiful, difficult, blessed, wonderful years were ahead of me. My story is written here on this blog now, and I’ll let new posts and poems arrive as they wish — a few posts per week, I imagine!

Cold days in the warm house give time for reflection–and immense gratitude.

You will be one of the first to know when the free Haiku Lessons are available at The Haiku Foundation. This will be later this year, as the various stages of editing and publication proceed. All good and in due time.

Grateful for your encouragement. Learning every day…

“Tulip Field:” courtesy of wpclipart.com.


Icebergs along the shore, and ice in the waters of Lake Michigan. No waves. Steam rises from the lake and is part of the clouds. Much of the sky though is a clear blue.

ray of green light
on the kitchen counter
olive oil

Treasures In My Files


Sometimes I feel the support of my loved ones in Heaven. I was blessed by great-aunts on my mother’s side of the family. Aunt Alma was widowed young, and Aunt Marie did not marry. Aunt Marie was a pioneer in special education, the field I chose. Sometimes I come across a note or gift from them, as well as from other older relatives.

of the trees
in the window
their enduring
love . . .

“Circle of love heart valentine” is from wpclipart.com.

January Winds


The winds are strong today. Snow from the roof drapes the view outside my study window. The evergreens, as always, seem to bear everything with such grace. For all I’ve written about the longer days and the light, I think, “Now winter really begins.”

Our country roads get icy, and I’m one of the people who will drive a 10 minute walk to get the mail at the end of the street.

Yesterday I finished reading One Thousand Gifts Devotional by Ann Voskamp (Zondervan 2012). Ann writes from the broken places, as well as the beautiful places; and they may turn out to be the same. There is always hope. She includes our blogging community in her Acknowledgments. http://www.onethousandgifts.com

I also received the Winter 2013 Harp-Strings Poetry Journal (Volume Twenty-Four, Number Three). I learned of this journal from TIME OF SINGING a few years ago. Madelyn Eastlund is the Editor. There are familiar poets and new poets. I am seeing the older generation here too, and I love their voices. I know some young people see me this way now, and I am grateful.

Blessings, Ellen

Image: Karen’s Whimsy.