Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Moldy, moldy, moldy | Dear Friends

Dear Friends,

My body is moldy, my house is moldy, my mind is moldy and I’m not giving up!

I now have data from the first of three mold tests, with two tests to go. One of the two makes me laugh out loud every time I think about it. It’s a hair test for ‘heavy’ metals.

If you see me from time to time, you know how short my very fine (not heavy) hair is. Especially in the back. I like it that way.

So now this lab wants a measured (by weight) amount of hair from 5 to 6 places on my head, preferably from the back of my head. Each ‘strand’ should be 1 inch long! They’ll be lucky if I can find that much from the top of my head.

The worst moment will be after the deed is done and nothing can be glued back onto my head! As my trusted partner of more than 53 years, D will have the honor of clipping those precious hairs from my head. I don’t want to end up looking like a molting sheep.

The third test has to wait until I have the proper computer screen. It seems my old faithful isn’t young enough to calibrate within the limits of the vision test.

Then there was a visit with my cardiologist yesterday. Always stressful, no matter what’s going on with my heart. Especially with the added reality of almost constant work on Alzheimer-related testing. Though I don’t have it, my genes mean the risk factor rises with every year of my life. Mold is a big Alzheimer’s issue, best dealt with early and often.

I’m sleeping well most nights. Last night was an exception. I was surprised how weepy I was early this morning. I lay there thinking about my life and how difficult yet astonishingly wonderful it has been. And how many gifted, dedicated people I’ve had the privilege of working with. And how much I don’t want to leave this life just yet.

Despite all the health stuff, I turned a big corner last week. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone about myself or my worth. I already knew that in my mind. Last week my heart finally began getting and loving the message. I’ve already passed on bits and pieces here and there. It’s done, even as I keep growing like a persistent bit of mold–the good kind, of course!

Today I’m taking it easy. Practicing justice and mercy on behalf of my weary body and soul. Eager to keep moving ahead, yet no faster than my feet will take me on this damp, rainy day. The photo at the top is there just because I like it.

Happy Tuesday, and thanks for stopping by.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 November 2018
Photo taken by DAFraser, Hoyt Arboretum, Portland, Oregon, October 2012

Dancing in the face of partisan politics

Pray tell me
How do I dance
In the face of partisan politics
Straining to separate me
From other human beings

And how do I dance with freedom
In the face of threats
To undo me
Or you
Or us

Age and health
Weigh heavily on me
As does diminished ability to move
Freely on my own

And this dance floor seems too small
To hold my aching heart
Longing for more
Than I can ever accomplish

Or perhaps
The ‘more’ is already here

Behind and around me
Invisible
Doing what You intend it to do
Making its way unseen in
Bits and pieces I gladly gave away
And passed along so that
They don’t belong to me
Anymore

As health issues come creeping or crashing into my life, I feel like fighting back. Making sure I’m still out there, doing my thing. I feel the tug of wanting to make a difference.

Perhaps it’s time to rest, dream and even drift through each day. Grateful for living this long. Grateful for opportunities to connect with neighbors near and far.

It seems slow dancing is what’s called for. Listening to internal and external music. Connecting with family, neighbors and strangers. Reading. Listening. Praying for the next generation. And writing my heart out. Preparing for whatever is around the next corner.

Elouise

Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 November 2018

Autumn in the Park | Photos

Grab it before it’s gone! Autumn loveliness. Including my friend Rita’s way-too-lovable dog (above) who has more energy than both of us put together.

D took all photos. Normally he doesn’t bring his camera when we walk through the neighborhood. But this year’s brief autumn flame-out was too much to resist. He took the photos in and around Gladwyne Park, open year-round to the public and to pets on leashes.  D took these between 4 and 5pm.

Here’s my favorite tree to stand beneath in the fall! It always takes my breath away. Especially when the late afternoon sun is hitting the leaves just right. The closeup below shows damaged leaves–heat, insects, too much rain or not enough rain. Still, the colors come through right on time.

The first year we lived here (well over 30 years ago), I remember stopping my car to stare at the fall colors in this park. I hadn’t seen anything so beautiful since we’d lived in New England. The tree below is the largest on the lot. It’s a maple, similar to the one above. And look! Just below you can see Rita’s beautiful little dog walking Rita through the park! He’s that little speck of white fuzz pulling Rita along.

Here we’re coming to the recreational area of the park. You can see picnic tables on the right, and the corner of an athletic field on the left. Beyond the picnic tables there’s a basketball court and playground area.

Finally, several random photos taken as we leave the park and head home.

Even Rita’s little bundle of energy is ready to go home.

Here’s to at least a few more days of autumn glory! Thanks for stopping by.

Elouise

Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 November 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser, 4 November 2018

At loose ends with myself

At loose ends with myself
Wandering up and down
The stairs of my distraction
Overturning this and that
Within my overactive mind
A clock ticks relentlessly
Counting down the corridors
Of tasks undone and words
Never recorded yet dissipating
Into a gray atmosphere silent
And secretive not yet menacing
Though the thought occurs
to me that I am being unraveled
strand by limp strand falling
to the floor of unknown reality

Unraveled. A word rich with possibilities. Terrifying and welcome all at the same time. Loss of control. Change of direction. Once-blind eyes coming out of misty half-truth and patched-together personas. Fragility unbound and hanging out there. Human. Vulnerable. Out of control in the best possible way.

All this and more went through my mind today. It isn’t just about getting older. It’s about getting real. Becoming a real rabbit, a real human being, a real baby. Not just a make-believe look-alike.

Here’s to more loose ends of the fruitful kind. Those that lead to something greater than you or I could ever become on our own.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 November 2018
Image of unraveling butterfly found at movestrongkbs.com

A Day! Help! Help! | Take 2

Emily Dickinson’s short poem came to mind this morning. I first commented on it in March 2017, after the 2016 election and January 2017 inauguration of Mr. Trump as POTUS.

Tomorrow we get to vote again, though not for another president. My comments follow in the form of a letter to Mr. Trump.

A Day! Help! Help! Another Day!
Your prayers, oh Passer by!
From such a common ball as this
Might date a Victory!
From marshallings as simple
The flags of nations swang.
Steady – my soul: What issues
Upon thine arrow hang!

c. 1858

Emily Dickinson Poems, Edited by Brenda Hillman
Shambhala Pocket Classics, Shambhala 1995

Dear Mr. Trump,

I am not one of your fans. I am, however, a believer in more than chance happenings.

First, a confession. For months, I’ve been captive to the anti-Trump approach to daily happenings. I didn’t think about you all the time. Nonetheless, following your election and inauguration, my days seemed governed by what you did and what I thought and felt about it. Usually it felt like going from one bad scene to an even worse scene.

Looking  back, I don’t regret thinking all that through, or writing about some of it. In fact, I rather enjoy going back to see my small trail of contributions to what’s been a national preoccupation and discussion. Trying to figure you out.

There isn’t, of course, any figuring that will balance things out nicely. Especially for those whose lives are in disarray thanks to your words and deeds. Plus the words and deeds of others you’ve enabled, if not unleashed.

And so I’ve moved on. I still believe each day contains the possibility of Victory, no matter how tomorrow’s midterm elections turn out. I also imagine Emily Dickinson’s “common ball” as our planet, which I would describe as this grand terrestrial ball. A dance, open to anyone who wants to accept the invitation. There’s only one hitch. Our Creator presides over this dance. Not any human leader, billionaire or organization.

So I’m taking dance lessons again. My neighbors and their pets are teaching me to lighten up. Women and men of color are teaching me to listen deeply to what’s happening. Children of all colors are teaching me to forget about how I look and how old I am. Friends of many years are helping me reconsider my dance partners. I’m tired of the same old rhetoric, the same old hopes for tomorrow, the same old anxiety about whether I’ll be asked to the dance.

I’m already in the dance! Stumbling along, sometimes gifted with a bit of insight, scraping together my courage, and showing up in the grand ballroom of life. You might like to try it yourself, if you dare.

From one voter among millions,
Elouise Renich Fraser

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 5 November 2018

white affirmative action

Think of it when you go to sleep at night
Think of it when you walk or drive to the polls
Think of it when you go to church on Sunday
Think of it when you walk freely to the store
Think of it early and often and examine yourself
White gentile woman man or child that you are

By whose decree was this white affirmation
Heaped upon me and those who like me
Had no choice in the color or pedigree of our skin
Yet are heralded welcomed and protected
As the keepers and the color of purity
Angels in the making if not god almighty

Baby steps.
We need baby steps.
We need leaders who don’t look like us
Who don’t mind if our grammar isn’t perfect
Leaders who know the lay of the land
Because they’ve been there and ache
To show and tell the look of life on the other side
The toll exacted by border walls projected willy-nilly
To enhance the purity of so-called whiteness
That never existed in the first place

Humans exist in the first place
And hopefully in the last place
But only if we tend to these tiny shoots
Struggling to breathe and find sustenance
In a stingy, greedy, heads in the sand
Make-believe-we’re-OK land of no return
For this we are called
Out of ourselves and into a great
Mixed company dying to live
Before it’s too late

Thoughts on the eve of our mid-term elections. Can we find our way through this wilderness? It won’t happen overnight or without skilled leaders. Leaders who know about life because they’re already living it from the inside out. Against all odds and upstream.

Here’s how I see it. As a ‘white’ (actually German-Swiss-French) woman who is a citizen of the USA, I benefit every day from affirmative action. I’m on the lookout for skilled women, men and children who already model ways to live in a society at war with itself, without giving up hope and without being naive.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 November 2018

autumn love letter

autumn love letter
ripples across calm water
reflecting the sky
fiery burnt orange maples
bend and bow before mortals

The last two days we’ve finally seen autumn’s brilliant colors splashed here and there. They won’t last long this year, thanks to a 9-year warming October weather. Still, they’re brilliant, especially when lit by late afternoon/early evening sun.

The Ando Hiroshige print above caught my eye last night. The poem came this morning. It invites me to take a calming break, preferably in nature, after another week of unannounced violence inflicted by human beings on other human beings.

Pause mode may sound like a futile gesture. It isn’t. Especially now.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 November 2018
Ando Hiroshige print found at pinterest.com; From 100 Famous Views of Edo, Autumn, Inside Akiba Shrine, Ukeji c. 1857

Going to Seminary | Photos

Happy Halloween! Here are some photos from the 1970s. Never a dull moment. Back then we seemed up-to-date and modern. Not an electronic device in sight, yet there was more than enough adventure and excitement going on. I’m feeling a little nostalgic today, as you can see.
Elouise

Telling the Truth

1974 Feb Den chaos Scott and Sherry

Time for a bit of end-of-the-week fun! Our son and daughter are in the den of our Altadena home. Don’t miss the double door knobs. One worked and one didn’t; it was that way when we moved in.

It looks like Son is deep in thought. I don’t know what that red thing is in front of his mouth. I think he has

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Falling raindrops

Falling raindrops
Losses unnumbered
Tears of anguish
Sink beneath ground
Mourning our dead
Prone to collapse
If not eruption

It’s Monday morning, one week from midterm elections here in the USA. I belong to the President John F. Kennedy assassination generation. November 22, 1963, two days after my 20th birthday. A harsh introduction to political realities in these somewhat united states.

And now we’ve just experienced the latest in a string of brutal, overt attacks against people who are our neighbors, whether far or near. This time it was a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ironically, the hometown of Mr. Rogers.

November 22, 1963 was my wake-up call. Not about religion, but about politics. My vote seemed tiny back then. Yet as a white woman living in a nation that routinely disenfranchises and disregards women of all colors in overt and covert ways, my vote counted then and it still counts.

Walking to my voting station counts. Encouraging others to vote counts. Helping others get to the polls counts. Showing hospitality to strangers counts, whether it’s voting day or not.

This doesn’t make up for lives taken by gunfire, abuse, neglect, unleashed hatred and outright murder. Still, their lives are with us when we choose to remember them. As I see it, I’m not just voting on my behalf; I’m voting on their behalf. From the beginning of this nation until now.

So here we are one week from midterm elections. What’s your plan?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 October 2018
Photo found at hipwallpaper.com

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