Tag: Ellen Grace Olinger

The Story Of Elin Grace Publishing, A Story Of Hope

Margie’s comment in response to my previous post inspires me to share more about the name, Elin Grace Publishing. Her wonderful site is Latebloomerbuds: http://latebloomerbuds.wordpress.com.  I enjoy her photos, haiku, and uplifting approach to life!  Thanks, Margie!

Following my 20 years of full-time study and work in special education, I experienced my own challenges with major surgery and a chronic illness.  I was in my 40s then.  I am well now, but it took some time. My recovery overlapped with the precious caregiving years with my mother.  She went through so much, for a long time.  Her spirit grew ever-strong and more loving.  She worked hard to stay with us as long as she could, but had no fear of death.  It was amazing to witness.  My energy was low during these years.  I often looked back at my career in Chicago, among other places.  But teaching is also hard physical work and I no longer had the stamina.

So I watched a lot of TV with my mother!  She didn’t want silence.  No matter how ill she was, she followed and anguished over wars, all the news, every individual human story.  Even on what turned out to be her last full day on earth, we watched C-Span for a short time.  I remember reading to her from the Psalms and also Robert Frost.  Many many people helped her–family, in the medical profession, her pastors, friends, people who took care of her home and yard.  Each and every one of us was special and unique.

These are my most precious memories with my mother.

Mom called me Ellen Grace.

So now The Story Of Elin Grace Publishing.  I retired from publishing some years ago, but am still promoting our last book, the Welcoming Hope book mentioned in the previous post.

The name is in honor of my grandmothers:  Elin and Grace.  Elin is a Swedish name, for my father’s mother, whom we called Nanna.  She and Poppa Ernie came to Wisconsin from Sweden.  My parents gave me the American spelling of Elin, my name Ellen.  Grace, my mother’s mother, died exactly a year before I was born, to the day.  I feel I know her though, through her art.  She made aprons, needlepoint and other crafts.  I did not meet Walter, Grace’s husband, either.  But in 1993, I went to a family reunion in southwestern Wisconsin and met many of their family.  I also understood my deep love of the land and water, and why I was called to leave Chicago and return to my home state.  And I still miss Northern Illinois too!

I found Time of Singing through a Poet’s Market book I found at a store, on the way home one semester, after turning my grades in at NEIU, over 20 years ago now.  Charles Waugaman was the editor then and was one of the first to take my poetry seriously and publish it, beginning in 1990.  We became friends and corresponded after he retired; we did not meet in person, but I feel I know him well.  Like blogging friends.  We share our hearts through our art.

Through Time of Singing, and other resources, I found other poetry journals and began sending out my work.  Rejections are all part of the process–it can take time for a poem to find its true home.   I also ordered chapbooks from other poets.  I found the simplicity of haiku and tanka books fit well too, with my life.

I wasn’t writing much, though, during my 40s; especially when compared to my 50s and blogging with WordPress.  But I had the skills and the support of other artists to make a few little books, which I could not have achieved without the help of Charles Waugaman and Lora Zill from Time of Singing.  

So Elin Grace Publishing is a tribute to my grandmothers, for whom I am named.  It was always non-profit and low-key, but it sure filled some empty spaces with friendship and creativity.

Lessons learned:  we do what we can.  As the saying goes, if one door closes, another opens.  Sometimes we need to REST for a good while.  We don’t know how long we have to make a contribution somewhere.  But my faith has grown.  And as my mother said, “God works in mysterious ways.”

Welcoming Hope: Poems for those in need was my last book.  My mother paid the costs and all proceeds benefit Time Of Singing.  I wanted to say thank you to TOS, for helping me begin my life in poetry, and for being a lifeline during some tough years.  www.timeofsinging.com

A Haiku For Caregivers

This haiku is from the caregiving years with my mother.  Enola Borgh lived on earth from 1917 – 2004.  Love keeps growing.  A mystery.

Snow melting

                in March . . .

                                my mother’s new smile

Published in Time Of Singing (Vol. 30, No. 1; Spring 2003).

Painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Les Roses dans un Vase, c. 1910 – 1917.  Courtesy of Dover Publications.  From 120 Great Flower Paintings.

UPDATE, September 28, 2014:  I have a small site, Grief And Acceptance.  Blessings, Ellen

NEW TIME – Life After Loss

UPDATE, September 28, 2014:  I also have a small site, Grief And Acceptance.  Blessings, Ellen

* * *

On Friday night, Karl and I enjoyed excellent fish dinners at Rupp’s in downtown Sheboygan.  Neighbors gave us gift cards to thank Karl for help with house repairs.  Everyone was happy about changing the clocks this weekend.  How wonderful to drive home while it was still light.

I remember going to Rupp’s after my mother went to Heaven over seven years ago.  “Normal” for me was being with her in the nursing home during her last illness.  It was different to return to everyday life.  My family experienced many losses after we came here, and the warmth and good food at local restaurants reminded me of my mother’s kitchen–especially the homemade soups!  I enjoyed cooking for her too.

Everyday routines and familiar places help so much with coming to terms with change and growing new chapters.   We keep our loved ones close in new ways.

This morning, while it was still dark, there were deer in the front yard.  They must be hungry and waiting for new spring growth in the woods.

I waited patiently for the Lord;

and he inclined unto me,

and heard my cry.

Psalm 40: 1 (KJV)

Ancient Words by Margarita Engle and Ellen Olinger: Haiku Sequence in English and Spanish


reading ancient words
stones in a field
left by glaciers

flor de memoria
mi abuela

flower of memory
my grandma

silent grace
with friends

wishing well
my penny
in sunlight

letting go
daffodils bloom
in the compost pile

camino al monte
un sueño
de paz

mountain road
a dream
of peace

*The Spanish name for “pansy,”  which also means “thought.”

“Ancient Words” was published first in Time of Singing (Spring 2010), which is edited by Lora H. Zill.  Contributing Editors for this issue:  Darlene Moore Berg and H. Edgar Hix.

* * *

Margarita’s biography (July 17, 2010):

Margarita Engle is a botanist and the Cuban-American author of young adult novels in verse, most recently The Firefly Letters.

The Surrender Tree received a Newbery Honor, the Pura Belpré Medal, Jane Addams Award, Américas Award, Claudia Lewis Award, and Lee Bennett Hopkins Honor. The Poet Slave of Cuba received the Pura Belpré Medal, Américas Award, and an International Reading Association Award. Tropical Secrets received the Sydney Taylor Award, Paterson Prize, and an Américas Award Commendation. Engle’s next novel in verse is Hurricane Dancers, the First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck, forthcoming from Henry Holt in March, 2011.

Chapbooks include Word Wings (Elin Grace Publishing).

Engle’s first Henry Holt picture book is Summer Birds, the Butterflies of Maria Merian.

Margarita lives in northern California, where she enjoys hiking and helping her husband with his volunteer work for wilderness search and rescue dog training programs. Her next picture book is about search and rescue dogs.

Here are some of the daffodils from the compost pile.
Photo by Karl.

reading poems aloud

reading poems aloud

raindrops on the windows

I remember how

Helen Keller

learned “water”


Image from this week’s Dover Design Sampler:  The Grammar of Ornament.

This poem was also published in SMILE (Summer, 2010) in a slightly different form. 

reading poems aloud
raindrops on the windows
I remember how Helen Keller
learned water

I like the poem in four lines too–always appreciate feedback from editors and readers.

Joyce M. Johnson is the Editor/Publisher of SMILE.