Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Category: Just for Fun

Making music from my heart

Last November I gave myself a 75th birthday gift – a piano coach! So here’s an update on my progress so far.

  1. I’m totally motivated to play the piano, though not the way I used to play it.
  2. Though I haven’t yet met with my new piano coach, I’ll soon begin working with him once a month.
  3. I’ve gone through most of my piano collections, have chosen five for starters, and am already practicing regularly from them.
  4. I’ve also been reading The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart, by Madeline Bruser. It’s phenomenal. Just what I need right now.
  5. Not surprisingly, my attitude toward life in general is changing, too. More from the heart, less from my to-do lists.
  6. My happiness/contentment quotient is on the rise.

Below are the five collections I chose for starters. I first worked with them in the 1950s when Mrs. Hanks was my piano teacher.

  • J.S. Bach: Two-Part Inventions, and The Well-Tempered Clavichord (Book 1)
  • Frederic Chopin: Preludes for the Piano (Book IX)
  • Felix Mendelssohn: Songs Without Words
  • Pianorama of the World’s Favorite Dances, compiled & arranged by Denes Agay for Piano

Here are three things I’m working on from The Art of Practicing.

  1. Mistakes (when playing the piano) are part of life. They aren’t the end of the world. Get used to them, and get comfortable with other people hearing you make them. I don’t like this, but I’m learning to live with it.
  2. Speed and agility will (or will not) come in time as my fingers are (or are not) ready. Forcing things, or assuming I can do now what I did 60 years ago) only makes things worse. As I already know. Sigh.
  3. Don’t get in a tizzy about speed and dynamics. Slow down. Ignore dynamics for now. Do what you can from your heart. Love the sound of each note and listen for the music within, not for what seems to be on the page in front of you. Trust your fingers to let you know when they’re ready. Magical!

Finally, I’m learning to accept the hands and flexibility I have now. This means some music I used to play is beyond me. No amount of forcing my fingers will guarantee the return of my youthful fingers. On the other hand, I just might be surprised down the road if I’m willing to take it slowly, without super-expectations.

Thanks for visiting, and Happy Wednesday to each of you!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 January 2019
Image found at pinterest.com

My third try at the lottery

10:18am–
Congratulations!
You have now joined
the long line of callers
continuing to hold as
discordant jingle jangles
scream at me through
my miraculous speaker
phone enabling this poem
to birth itself as the
nonsense of this world
spins out of control
one minute after another

My mind wanders to
fairer days when real
people with real not fake
friendly voices answered
whether I wanted to do
business with them or not

At least they were there
on the job and paid enough
perhaps (I do not know)
to earn a living wage
instead of this inane broken
record that has cheerfully
announced the importance
of my call and assured me
that my call is important
to say nothing of reiterated
apologies that do nothing to
reassure me that anyone will
be on this line anytime during
the next hour or so and yet
hanging up means giving up
which I don’t have time to do

So now I’m feeling sorry for
everyone including myself
who is enduring this nonsense
on both ends of the line
wondering how we come to
find ourselves in this fine mess
given all our duly worshiped
electronic devices that are
supposed to be making sure
all is well and in order with
no one left behind or left out
as I now believe I am with
millions on other lines doing
exactly what I’m doing and No,
I do not have the competency
to do two things at once though
to be honest I never thought
I would get this far on a so-called
poem about a so-far nothing call….

10:30am–
Hello! This is Brenda! How may I help you?

Brenda was wonderful. I got my business sorted in the space of 3-4 minutes. Which partially atoned for my first two tries earlier that went on and on and on…..

Yes, it’s the end of the year and I’m back in town. Ready to go and grateful for the last several weeks in which I’ve enjoyed an orgy of family visits around meals and on the phone.

Cheers!
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 December 2018
Photo of a 1950s/1960s call center found at syntheticzero.net

Winter Garden Photos from Portland

That lovely tub above is the secret sauce for Sherry and Scott’s backyard garden. It’s a worm hatchery. Not the little bucket at the front, but the great big tub. It’s teeming with hungry worms, scraps of food, paper, and anything else worms love to eat. Worm juice collected in the small bucket gets distributed as needed. Right now this is the only worm hatchery needed for the garden. The other two are now elegant planters for japonica and other outdoor plants.

Just beside the worm house are piles of firewood neatly stacked, ready for winter.

Back in the garden, Sherry and Scott are giving me the grand tour while D takes photos. It was bitter cold that day, with a fierce wind from the northwest. The bat boxes are new since we were last there.

So while we’re at it, here’s another garden-friendly house for insects that love to catch garden pests. It’s an old bird house renovated for insects using pieces of bamboo.

At the far end of the garden, under a row of trees and near the side street there’s a virtual habitat for small animals. Not just for winter cover and spring nests, but for food served up 24/7. It’s long, lovely, and barely visible from the street. Those are old apples, discarded bamboo and other ‘throw-away’ stuff in the photo below.

Beginning with the garden gate below, here are three favorites from around the back yard.

The mini-meadow below is in the back yard. It includes a bird house, plus meadow-plants that produce lots of pollen and seeds–to attract birds, bees and butterflies. Even though it’s winter, they’re still loaded with seeds.

And one more–just because I like it! This little oriental-style lantern sits on the ground just below the back porch.

Thanks again for stopping by. In some ways, it feels as though I’ve already had Christmas. Seeing Sherry and Scott is always a big deal. And yes, absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. So right now I’m channeling all that fondness into thoughts about our next trip to Portland! And visits with other friends and family members to celebrate Christmas and the gift we are to each other.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 December 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser, December 2018

Farewell to Portland | Photos

Alas! All good things….and all that. Except for the photos, thanks to D. The holly tree above is from our daughter and her husband’s yard. We got home about midnight Saturday, and I’ve been jet-lagging until today. The weather was colder than toot, with pretty stiff wind most days.

No wandering in the arboretum, hikes through the forest, visits to the rose garden or day-trips into the Oregon wilderness. Instead, we relaxed, ate good food, listened to great music, and drank juice concoctions featuring fresh-picked kale and other healthy stuff like fresh ginger and apples. Below is a photo of kale that hasn’t stopped giving.

Just outside the kitchen sink window we could see a couple of bird feeders, including a hummingbird feeder. Here’s a tiny female Anna’s Hummingbird that hangs around every day, fending off all hummingbird intruders.

Our daughter and her husband have a screen-printing business, Olympic Screen Printing. I love this photo of some of her husband’s paint cans. A large, bright, cheery set of colors with which he works his magic. Click here to see examples of t-shirts they’ve printed over the years.

Below is a small pond designed and built by our son-in-law several years ago. It’s now fully functional, with its own ecosystem of water plants and water-loving insects and animals. In the second photo note the thin layer of ice on part of the surface. Another of D’s special impressionist water photos!

You might be wondering about the bamboo? They planted it several years ago when a construction crew came in and began putting up big-box housing with tiny back yards. Imagine going from a beautiful field around one house, to rows and rows of look-alike houses. The bamboo is now beginning to do its job–providing privacy as well as beauty.

Finally, here’s a look at one of their dozens of Japonica shrubs. Also planted a while back, up against the house and along some of the fencing.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to see so many of their plans and hard work now paying off. And yes, it was very hard to leave and come back home.

Smudge, of course, wasn’t exactly thrilled to see us come barging into the house in the middle of the night. After several days of scolding us for abandoning him, he seems to have calmed down. Actually, our son looked in on him faithfully and sent photos to reassure us that all was well.

Cheers,
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 December 2018
Portland photos taken by DAFraser, December 2018; Photos of Smudge taken by SEFraser, December 2018

Packing the easy way

Dear Friends,

No, I haven’t disappeared from the universe. I’m just deep into packing for a trip to visit our daughter and her husband. Sherry took the photo above. The magnolia came from a tree in their yard.

Here’s my old normal way of getting ready for a trip:

  • Update my trip checklist so I don’t get all frazzled
  • Start panicking about getting everything done before we leave
  • Keep doing whatever I normally do
  • Reassure myself that the checklist is really half the work
  • Stay up most of the night before the trip — frazzled
  • Sleep several hours and then get up in panic mode
  • Stuff the last thing in at the last moment
  • Holler for D to sit on the suitcase and help get it closed
  • Leave the house frantic about what I might have forgotten to do or pack

No, I am not one of those frequent travelers who always has a small, compact carry-on and a plan for minimal packing. There are reasons, of course, for my lack of this gift, but I won’t bore you with the details.

So my new normal (assuming I have other opportunities for travel) kicked in the day after my birthday. So far, so good, even though it’s taking a lot of discipline to stay away from my computer and you!

The upside is that I’m not yet freaking out, and might even make it to the front door with time to spare.

I’m taking my laptop (of course!), and won’t make any promises about posting while we’re away. However, photos might be fun to put up. So we’ll see what happens.

Thanksgiving was bitter-sweet for us. We had dinner with our son, daughter-in-law, granddaughters and grandson. Plus their two big dogs and two small cats. They’re planning to move in the coming year. Not sure when, but it was our last Thanksgiving dinner in the old house they moved into shortly after the girls were born.

Thank you for your many good wishes and notes about my birthday. We had a quiet day at home. Neither of us is what you’d call a party animal. Instead, we love quiet days at home, which this time included playing the piano and going for a walk. Plus reading pertinent and impertinent birthday cards. Actually, more than one of them gave me happy tears.

Cheers!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 November 2018
Photo taken by Sherry Fraser Seckington, June 2015

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

My Dear Meadow,

How kind of you to welcome me
Yesterday when I arrived unannounced
And uninvited

You looked weather-worn and weary,
Sometimes disheveled and barely able
To stand upright

Leaning one tired limb against another
You seemed to be managing, though clearly not
For long

The air above and around you seemed deserted
Without its usual commotion of butterflies and birds
And beetles

Still,
When I saw you bravely doing your meadow thing
Against all odds, tears came to my eyes

Weathered
And leaning in on yourself you made my heart
Happy to be alive and visiting your aging presence

Tiny blossoms
Winked at me from the sidelines and reached out
To remind me that little things matter

Patches
Of muddy footprints pressed into half-dry mud puddles
Happily told me I wasn’t the first to visit you recently

Clouds
Of fluffy meadow seeds sped by on unruly gusts of wind
Distributing next year’s bumper crop of wild spring beauty

Bird houses
Empty for the season stood sturdy and brave prepared
To weather the coming freeze beneath ice and snow

Just in case
You’re not open the next time I stop by, I wish you
A long winter nap and restoration to your youthful vigor

Which is exactly what I hope for all of us.

With admiration,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 October 2018
Photos take by DAFraser, 17 October 2018, at Longwood Gardens Meadow

The morns are meeker than they were

Here’s an Emily Dickinson poem for all children, including you! Plus my note to Emily below.

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

Emily Dickinson: Poetry for Young People, edited by Frances Schoonmaker Bolin, illustrated by Chi Chung. Published by Sterling Publishing Co. (2008)

Dear Emily,

It pains me to say this, but I never thought of you as a trinket kind of girl or woman. But then again, it shouldn’t surprise me. You have a way of seeing beauty and even the entire creation in the smallest bird or flower.

I wonder if you had a trinket box like the one above. It comes from your century, and has a mustardy yellow autumn look about it. To say nothing of those pretty leaves and that bird in the center.

It’s too bad we don’t have photos of your trinkets. I was always told they could make or break a woman’s image. Nothing too big. Nothing too gaudy. Nothing that would call attention to me. As though I were saying, ‘Look at me!’

But your little poem has a different outlook. You want to be part of nature’s annual parade of colors. Or maybe it’s a great production. Or better yet, a grand ball in the ballroom of fields and forests glowing with bright colors.

Whatever it is, it won’t do not to smile back when nature smiles at us. So I’m off to my oldest trinket box to find something to wear today to the ball. I think I’ll look for that topaz birthstone ring my mother gave me when I was a child.

With kind regards,
From grown-up Elouise and baby Marie

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 October 2018
Photo of 1800s Trinket Box found at pinterest.com

wild random beauty

wild random beauty
explodes through summer bounty
brilliant remnants flash
against tangled undergrowth
painting the old canvas red

That’s how I’m imagining my life today. A mess of tangled undergrowth, already beautiful in its own lively way, surprised from time to time by wild random beauty exploding from nowhere.

D took this photo at Chanticleer Gardens in late summer 2016. It invites me to consider my life today, and what might yet be waiting around the next corner. I feel like a child; I want to know how the story ends before it gets there. Not because of death, but because of all the good stuff that’s hiding, waiting along the way to surprise me with brilliant red.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 20 September 2018
Photo taken by DAFraser, Chanticleer Gardens, summer 2016

red fruit vanishes

red fruit vanishes
into bulging chipmunk cheeks
summer’s final fling

Seen from my kitchen window this morning. Not the squirrel above, but our resident chipmunk.

For several days I’ve watched birds and squirrels raiding our giant yew shrub. One ripe red berry at a time. The shrub is loaded with them. This morning our small chipmunk was storing them up for a feast. He lives inside one of the large concrete blocks that form a low wall in our back yard.

And…in case you don’t already know. Yew shrubs and trees are totally poisonous to humans except for the red flesh on the berries. Don’t swallow the seeds! And, above all, don’t try the bark or the shiny green needless. You can read more about this right here.

This morning we’re still getting a bit of rain from Florence. Hoping for clear skies and a chance to walk outside soon.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 September 2018
Photo found at pinterest

%d bloggers like this: