TreeHouseLetter

Rise above the tedium with the TreeHouseLetter.

Sign up to inoculate yourself with a dose of the best ideas and writing out there.

Always learning with a bit of fun. Readers receive a weekly letter with 2 to 10 minute read time.

Mylin Shattan sitting with her book
Mylin Shattan reading a book

Recent Letters

Semper Fidelis

4 Min read On patterns On Vietnam and Memorial Day Operation Frequent Wind 1 Book rec * * We had...

More Letters

Reader Favorites

Degree of Separation

5 Min read Social connection on Earth in 2023 Network theory U.S. Army and Armed Forces Math geek special, logarithm AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes * Thought exercise for the day. How many friends between you and anyone on the planet? In popular culture this...

A Day with the Night Stalkers

8 Min read 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) The Soldier and the Citizen Nashville Ides of March AVAILABLE ON PODCAST SPOTIFY iTunes * On a lonesome stretch of road north of Nashville, we turned onto a farmer's path. Strains of Johnny Cash and the...

Charlie Munger and the Art of Swearing

5 Min read EXPLICIT language, Ages 13 to 103 True Story, investing Toolbox Essay and book rec, Ursula Le Guin Patton's Speech AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes * Charlie Munger was making the rounds with investors. A living icon in the investing world, he was some...

The Meaning in Music

4 min read Song and Story Rachmaninoff Rybnikov AVAILABLE IN PODCAST (Listen to this letter to hear the piano music) Spotify iTunes Anchor.fm/emelle Your job will change, where you live will change, the people in your life will change, but you will always have your...

Books as Trophies? the Bibliophile vs the Bibliophagist

6 Min read 2 Book recs Music in Prose Funniest passage in modern literature Toolbox, Ages 9 to 99 Word Nerd Special AVAILABLE ON PODCAST iTunes Spotify anchor.fm/emelle * * I have a book problem. It's a good kind of problem because books teach me a lot and I get to...

On Becoming Sheepdogs, a Modern Fable

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Anchor.fm Spotify iTunes In the wake of recent events regarding the tragic death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests, this letter seems more relevant than ever. It has been updated to relate my own experience and the role of the brave men and...

More Than a Vietnamese Folktale – the Goddess of Compassion

  “To my mind, Kuan Yin’s gentle form is a worthier symbol than the figure of a tortured being hanging from a cross or of an awesome father god.” John Blofeld I’ve known Kuan Yin for some years now as Quan Am, her Vietnamese name.  My Vietnamese mother is Buddhist and...

All TreeHouseLetters

Browse by Topic

On Life

Northeast by Northwest: How Travel Changes Me

5 min read On travel British Columbia in summer On Eats and Feats: where to eat and what to do * Eve Kendall: And, I don't particularly like the book I've started. Roger Thornhill: Ah. Eve Kendall: You know what I mean? Roger Thornhill: Ah, let me think. Yes, I know...

Meditation on Mother’s Day

4 Min read On mandalas On Kansas City On life in the middle * * It's wet and dreary here. And, in spite of the multitude of Mays that I've lived through, I continue to forget how busy this month is with graduations, weddings, parties. And, funerals. What I want to...

Semper Fidelis

4 Min read On patterns On Vietnam and Memorial Day Operation Frequent Wind 1 Book rec * * We had not met before though we had met in other ways, I suppose. We laughed in short order, having teared up moments before. But, first let me say this. The third time is a...

More Letters

Stories

Northeast by Northwest: How Travel Changes Me

5 min read On travel British Columbia in summer On Eats and Feats: where to eat and what to do * Eve Kendall: And, I don't particularly like the book I've started. Roger Thornhill: Ah. Eve Kendall: You know what I mean? Roger Thornhill: Ah, let me think. Yes, I know...

Memorial Day Speech: Because They Lived

9 Min read Memorial Day Speech Transcript and Video, New Canaan Town Hall Honoring seven New Canaan residents Remembering Hailey Hodsden Remembering the MH-60M Black Hawk #490 crew of the 160th SOAR(A) * Honored Resident Photos at this link * VIDEO OF SPEECH - follow...

“We Lived, Felt Dawn, Saw Sunset Glow”

3 Min read Memorial Day Vietnam War Toolbox: Speech writing and public speaking Creative nonfiction / True story Poetry for Emergencies * Last fall I received a request to be the speaker for Memorial Day. I was surprised and then I let it sink in. Me? The Local VFW...

More Letters

On Education

Who Does Not Prefer Civility to Barbarism?*

6 Min read 2 Book recs Average of five people you know Affection, love between parent and child Mrs. Fidget, a character trope AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify Every Action done in Company ought to be with Some Sign of Respect to those that are Present. George...

How to Improve Your Writing – Part 1: from Tolstoy to Grohl

9 min read 1 English textbook 1 Book rec 1 Style Guide 4 Writers: Tolstoy to Grohl (of Nirvana and Foo Fighters) Improve writing immediately, ages 9 to 99 Toolbox AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify * I doubt whether we are sufficiently attentive to the importance of...

Today is a Numeric Palindrome

1 Min read Word Nerd Alert Toolbox * * Today has a date format which is a numeric palindrome. Or, a palindromic number. Or, a palindromic number sequence. Fun, if you're in to such things as I am, sequences and syntax and such. Or alliteration. Or sentence fragments....

More Letters

On Literature

That Teacher, You Know the One

5 Min read Poetry for Emergencies: E.E. Cummings On music: J.S. Bach Commencement speech * * Let's take a moment for teachers. That teacher, you know the one. Because, I have a confession to make. In the lottery of life and learning, if you're lucky then you have one,...

On Poetry, Spring, and Transition

4 Min read Poetry for emergencies 2 Poets Mary Oliver on things Lao Tzu on excess * When I moved from one house to anotherthere were many things I had no roomfor. What does one do? I rented a storagespace. And filled it. Years passed.First lines of "Storage" by Mary...

Small Delight: the Unexpected and the Good

3 Min read 1 Book rec * * I suppose it is the unexpected and the good which sustain us. The package arrived as media mail and I set the used copy on the counter. A week or so later, I began to read it, The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald. What I discovered in its...

More Letters

Bookshelf

“Well-Intentioned Fools”

2 Min read Poetry for Emergencies On grief * * I came across this poem about the stupid things people say to each other after someone dies. * STEALING GRIEF By D. Adam BoazI think thatOne of the things we doWhen someone we know isHurtingIs say things,Because we want...

On Poetry, Spring, and Transition

4 Min read Poetry for emergencies 2 Poets Mary Oliver on things Lao Tzu on excess * When I moved from one house to anotherthere were many things I had no roomfor. What does one do? I rented a storagespace. And filled it. Years passed.First lines of "Storage" by Mary...

Small Delight: the Unexpected and the Good

3 Min read 1 Book rec * * I suppose it is the unexpected and the good which sustain us. The package arrived as media mail and I set the used copy on the counter. A week or so later, I began to read it, The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald. What I discovered in its...

More Letters

On the Military

Memorial Day Speech: Because They Lived

9 Min read Memorial Day Speech Transcript and Video, New Canaan Town Hall Honoring seven New Canaan residents Remembering Hailey Hodsden Remembering the MH-60M Black Hawk #490 crew of the 160th SOAR(A) * Honored Resident Photos at this link * VIDEO OF SPEECH - follow...

“We Lived, Felt Dawn, Saw Sunset Glow”

3 Min read Memorial Day Vietnam War Toolbox: Speech writing and public speaking Creative nonfiction / True story Poetry for Emergencies * Last fall I received a request to be the speaker for Memorial Day. I was surprised and then I let it sink in. Me? The Local VFW...

Semper Fidelis

4 Min read On patterns On Vietnam and Memorial Day Operation Frequent Wind 1 Book rec * * We had not met before though we had met in other ways, I suppose. We laughed in short order, having teared up moments before. But, first let me say this. The third time is a...

More Letters

Writing Features

The Music in Prose

An Alabama Road

3 Min read Music Writing for the senses Songwriting AVAILABLE ON PODCAST SPOTIFY Each singer stepped towards the front of the stage, put a hand on the mike, and burst into five-part harmony. There are stars in the southern skySouthward as you goThere is moonlight and...

Town Mouse and Country Mouse

9 Min read 3 book recs 1 film rec True story: Coffee with "Josh" The Music in Prose: Willa Cather on town and country Wordnerd special AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify * The town mouse and the country mouse. Distress and agitation of the town mouse. Meditations, Book...

Poetry for Emergencies

“Well-Intentioned Fools”

2 Min read Poetry for Emergencies On grief * * I came across this poem about the stupid things people say to each other after someone dies. * STEALING GRIEF By D. Adam BoazI think thatOne of the things we doWhen someone we know isHurtingIs say things,Because we want...

“We Lived, Felt Dawn, Saw Sunset Glow”

3 Min read Memorial Day Vietnam War Toolbox: Speech writing and public speaking Creative nonfiction / True story Poetry for Emergencies * Last fall I received a request to be the speaker for Memorial Day. I was surprised and then I let it sink in. Me? The Local VFW...

That Teacher, You Know the One

5 Min read Poetry for Emergencies: E.E. Cummings On music: J.S. Bach Commencement speech * * Let's take a moment for teachers. That teacher, you know the one. Because, I have a confession to make. In the lottery of life and learning, if you're lucky then you have one,...

Toolbox

“We Lived, Felt Dawn, Saw Sunset Glow”

3 Min read Memorial Day Vietnam War Toolbox: Speech writing and public speaking Creative nonfiction / True story Poetry for Emergencies * Last fall I received a request to be the speaker for Memorial Day. I was surprised and then I let it sink in. Me? The Local VFW...

How to Improve Your Writing – Part 1: from Tolstoy to Grohl

9 min read 1 English textbook 1 Book rec 1 Style Guide 4 Writers: Tolstoy to Grohl (of Nirvana and Foo Fighters) Improve writing immediately, ages 9 to 99 Toolbox AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify * I doubt whether we are sufficiently attentive to the importance of...