Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Category: Marriage

Longwood in Early Autumn | Photos 2020

Last week we visited Longwood Gardens Covid-19 Style. Timed tickets, face masks, social distancing, limited facilities and outdoor eating opportunities. But the Meadow didn’t care! So that’s where we spent most of our time. A late celebration of our 55th wedding anniversary. Was it worth it? Yes!

Believe it or not, D took the top photo while we were waiting in line to be admitted. Below is a trained spruce (plus shadows) on the front wall of the Visitor’s Center. We’re not yet in the Gardens. We’re on the patio, snaking our way to the front door. Thankfully, the line kept moving, though at what I would call a snail’s pace. Still, it was mid-morning, with a stiff breeze and cloudless skies.

First we took a quick walk around the main Conservatory. Imagine the sound of water spilling from small fountains and waterfalls. Peaceful and inviting, with only a small handful of visitors. The large formal pool in the first photo is sometimes drained for large social events or dinner parties. Very upscale. No, I’ve never been invited. Nor do I wish to be! The second photo features black Japanese bamboo reaching for the sky as the background for two lovely lanterns.

After watching a water show from the verandah of the Conservatory, we walked over to the Meadow. It was stunning, especially from a distance. Late summer/early autumn overgrowth and seedtime!

Unfortunately, the lovely stiff breeze made it tricky to get clear photos. Nonetheless, D came through! Here are a few of my favorites.

We exited the meadow and crossed the bridge over the pond. I’m standing there studying the algae. The water was almost invisible. Still, paying attention paid off! As you’ll see below. Think tiny baby, larger mama? and maybe great big papa?

The high point of our visit! I can’t begin to describe how exciting it was to spot these creatures! So…Here are my final two photos. D took them near the end of our visit.

I hope this lifts your spirits the way it lifts mine. I was exhausted when we got home. Still, I wouldn’t trade anything for this opportunity to visit Longwood. Especially now.

Thanks for visiting. I’m sending this with prayers for wisdom and courage in the days ahead.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 September 2020
Photos taken by DAFraser at Longwood Gardens, 23 September 2020

Fountains and Music at Longwood Gardens

We’re just back from a day at Longwood Gardens. The first time we’ve been there since October 2019!

D took the movie above. A bird’s-eye view of today’s late morning concert. I’m going through the rest of D’s photos and will post my favorites later this week.

Imagine hot sun, long lines at the entrance (Covid-19 style), gorgeous blue sky, stiff breeze, limited number of visitors, masks required, timed entry by pre-registration only, food services minimal.

Still, it was a gorgeous day. I was elated to discover I could still walk the meadow without collapsing. Until I got home, of course.

Thanks for stopping by!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 September 2020
Longwood Gardens Fountain Show taken by DAFraser, 23 September 2020

Considering Loss on the Eve of Our Wedding Anniversary 2020

Wedding Day, 11 September 1965
11 September 1965

Fear of loneliness
Drifts in and out unbidden

Heavy eyelids droop
Head hangs low over keyboard

Tangled thoughts intrude
Try to distract me as though
I were the intruder

I am not.

Pulling myself together
I rouse myself to the occasion
Reaching for stars and light
I do not own.

What if he dies first?
What if I die first?

I don’t know.

So what do I know?
Only this –
That if he dies first, I will grieve.

And what will be the shape of that grief?
A hole that stretches from here to eternity
An unreachable planet long ago and faraway
A place I can no longer visit
An ocean of heaving sobs
Seaweeds of bitter regret and sweet longing
Washing up on the shore of each long day and night

Tomorrow David and I will celebrate our 52nd (now 55th) wedding anniversary. I thought I knew a thing or two about love the day we married. I did not. Nor will I know all about love the day one of us dies.

The older I get, the more precious each day becomes. I remember dreading retirement. Not simply because I would miss my colleagues and students, but because I would be spending much more time with D. More than I’d spent with him most of our married life.

Could we live with each other in the same house, including the same kitchen, every day? Would we get bored out of our gourds without deadlines and meetings and endless reports? Would one of us decide to find a part-time job just to get away from it all?

Happily, we’ve survived so far, including Kitchen Wars. But that would be another story.

I’ve had death on my mind in the last weeks, given events here and around the world. Death is about more than statistics, more than a moving memorial service, more than a huge display of candles and flowers. More than a gut-wrenching news story of the moment.

Somewhere, each moment of every day, someone is grieving. I want to honor the value of just one person’s life and the value of grief. The kind that can soften us, making us more human than we were before.

It looks like Monday, our anniversary day, will be a beautiful Longwood Garden day. Maybe another walk in the Meadow? We’ll see.

Thanks for reading!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 September 2017, reposted for our 55th Anniversary, 11 September 2020
Photo taken at our wedding reception, 11 September 1965

55th Wedding Anniversary | Scotland Photos

This Friday, September 11, D and I celebrate 55 years of marriage. Five years ago we flew to Scotland to celebrate our 50th anniversary (and visit the Fraser Castle of course). No travels this year, so I’m posting Scotland photos instead. All photos in this post were taken by D, and approved by me.

On our way from Edinburgh to Glasgow, we spent a day at the The Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. The top photo was taken along the way. If this is what it’s like to be put out to pasture, I’m all for it! When we got to the Park we selected one of their four hiking trails. The Lodge offered food and rest-stop facilities (not housing). Then we got going on the trail.

This lovely female Mallard was floating at the base of the trail,
surrounded by graceful greenery. Picture perfect!

We saw several wood carvings along the way, and spooky stumps.
Then there was that weirdo mirror in the forest. Aren’t we beautiful?

Here’s one of the rest stops that popped up here and there.
This one came with its own live canopy and ceiling decorations!

Beautiful vistas, the sound of running water, plus
tumbled rocks lining the creek.

More whimsy with tree stumps and trunks,
with doors and windows to die for!

Finally, several beautiful forest birds. An English Robin,
a Great Tit, and one young European Robin.

OK. So it’s only a shadow of the real thing. However, all things considered, I’d rather do this than get on a plane and go anywhere right now. Thanks for coming along!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 September 2020
Photos taken by DAFraser, September 2015 at the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park in Scotland.

Pyramids and Camels | Photo Memories Revisited

Camel rides and Pyramids

The worlds of 2010 and 2019 are gone. I pray we’re up to the task of making wise, faithful decisions about our lives as world citizens, not isolated human beings. Enjoy the pics! This was one of many great adventures. Getting married 54+ years ago was the first!

It’s a good thing, being married to D. My life might have been dismally dull without his get-up-and-go. He’s no extrovert, mind you. He just has the Travel Bug in him, bigtime. Our trip to Egypt, piggybacked onto a week of D teaching in Cairo, was a Spectacular Adventure.

It’s January 2010, just one year before the uprising in Egypt. Our driver and guide picked us up early in the morning. We arrived at the pyramids of Giza before the site was crowded with visitors and vendors.

It’s winter, yet the sun blazes down almost every day like a hot flame. The air temperature begins chilly but often rises into the low 70s.

Hence our sun hats and my white sun shirt peeking out from my travel jacket. The jacket is a small men’s silk blazer—a thrift shop find here in Philly. It has ample side pockets (note water bottle peeking out) and vest pockets inside. Best bargain ever! It doesn’t bother me a bit when airport personnel and passengers call me “Sir,” then beg profuse pardons….

Now we’re going to back track a bit. I want you to appreciate how tiny we feel. I’m there in the center, standing at the base of a pyramid.

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Here are a few pictures of us on and next to the largest pyramid.
Note the size of the building blocks!

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David and Elouise on Giza pyramid

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Time to go get on a camel or two! Just for comparison, here’s an expert camel rider. Note his legs resting casually on the back of his camel, his super comfortable clothing and air of confidence. Even his camel looks relaxed, if not smiling. Nothing to it! The rider doesn’t even have foot stirrups.

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So here we are, getting up close and personal with our rented camels. They’re going to take us off on a little trek into the desert. No problem. Our guide will be right there if anything untoward happens. Just relax and do what the patient camel guide tells me to do.

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Whew!

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Do I look like the cat that just swallowed the mouse, or what?
Now it’s D’s turn!!!

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Showoff!
Here we go….off into the desert.

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Note: Without our trusty guide who accompanied us on foot, we wouldn’t have these photos of the two of us. And, I must add, without workouts at Curves my legs would not have been up to the task of keeping me on top of the camel!

Here’s a bit of what we saw, including a photo of Cairo in the distance.

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The camel ride ended near the Sphinx.
After spending time there, we said farewell and left.

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This was only one of our Egypt adventures. The others simply added to my sense that I owe Egyptian history, culture and inventions a debt I can never repay.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 February 2016, reposted 8 July 2020
Photo credits: DAFraser and our Egyptian tour guide

Smudge and the Good Morning News

Our recalcitrant child. No, he is NOT allowed in the sink! Just on it….

You want me to do WHAT?

 

If you insist….

Other good morning news:

Just as I was finishing breakfast, the doorbell rang. D answered. He’d just returned from grocery shopping. A not-so-young man reached out his hand to give D something. It was D’s wallet in a Ziploc bag! It had fallen out of his jacket pocket as he loaded bags of groceries into the car. After he left, I retreated to the kitchen with tears of gratitude in my eyes. It’s one thing to do something unexpected for someone else. It’s another to be on the receiving end. Especially as one of those ‘elderly’ people.

Also this morning, as I was drinking my breakfast smoothie, I signed up to follow Longwood Gardens on Instagram. Today’s theme is wisteria. Glorious lavender wisteria! Get the photos for yourself. Just go to the very bottom of the link above. Or, if you’re already on Instagram, add Longwood Gardens to your account. There are several other ways to get the photos. So take a look at the link above! No excuses!

Yesterday morning I had a scheduled phone conversation with my favorite cardiologist. I enjoyed it so much, I’m considering a request that there be No More In Person Visits! Bottom line: I got cleared for another six months. Nothing new, and my heart and blood pressure are doing well for now, all things considered.

Best of all, the sun is out today! Not as blistering hot as yesterday, but sunny enough for a nice late afternoon walk with D.

Cheers!
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 May 2020
Photos of Smudge taken by ERF, March 2020

Ikebana and Chrysanthemums at Longwood 2019 | Photos

I’m in agony! Too many beautiful photos from our recent Longwood visit! Here’s a condensed version of what we saw in the main Conservatory. The Ikebana installations were stunning. Nothing fragile here. Just artists, often in teams, playing with flowers and bamboo and who knows what else to come up with these magnificent displays.

Here’s the information sign that stands beside the installation above.

For starters, here are a few chrysanthemum displays, beginning with the view down the center at the side entrance to the conservatory.

Here we have two medium-size installations standing at the opposite end of the stream. Notice their uses of materials.

The next conservatory room was a stunner. I wasn’t expecting anything like this:

After walking around the perimeter, we took a last look back. I love the beautiful ceiling, reflected in the water below and echoed in the weaving of bamboo leaves. All rather graceful and flowing.

After a deep breath, we turned around to see this installation right down the middle of the old conservatory entrance.

As a guide pointed out, both installations went through lengthy screening and certifications for safety. Especially the ‘bridge’ above, under which real live people would be walking. The two guides above are Longwood’s version of street patrols. Making sure nothing untoward happens to us or to this gorgeous entrance.

Finally, here are some of my favorite small installations. They’re scattered throughout the conservatory. Gems waiting for you to turn the corner!

We saw tons more than this. I’m tempted to do another Longwood post later. It was a wonderful day. Not too cold or hot; just-right breezy; not as many visitors as usual. And these stunning pieces of installation art. I loved it! I loved being with D! And I especially loved coming home to my lovely rocking chair and putting my feet up!

Thanks so much for visiting. Here’s to a wonderful Thursday and upcoming weekend.

Elouise 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 October 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 7 October 2019, Longwood Gardens Conservatory

Lost soulmates

Keeping up appearances
Grows costly and unrewarding
Except when you smile
With that boyish grin
The one that caught me
Unawares decades ago
Long before we knew
Anything about loving
Or keeping faith or how
Not to parent our children —
When we lost soulmates still
Needed parenting and loving
From the inside out of our
Lonely tentative hearts

The gardens smell winter coming
Chill air reaches out at night
Draining life-giving juice from
Once lush greens and pinks
And purples and magenta —
Crowding close to each other
They lean in for a farewell look
At us taking the flower walk
Sunrays streaming down in
Breezes and fading memories

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 October 2019
Photo taken by DAFraser, 7 October 2019 at Longwood Gardens Flower Walk

Progress!

Happy Monday, everybody! Two months ago (minus 5-6 days) our faithful waterbed sprang a nasty leak. We’ve been camping out in the house ever since. On Saturday, the construction crews finished their work. Getting the waterbed functioning and warm enough to sleep in was Number One on our to-do list the last few days.

The top photo shows our lovely kitty, Smudge, sitting in the middle of the waterbed’s bare bones. Below you can see the skeleton laid out for reassembly. The metal rails (above) are for under-the-bed drawers, two on each side. As shown here:

The central area beneath the mattress is open–though D later attached a sturdy cardboard door to the back entrance to foil you-know-who. But before he did that, the Inspector General had to check everything out!

Most exciting of all was a strange ‘hole’ in the wall (above). He stalked it like a pro and then went for the jugular! (Note his straight-back all-business tail.) Sadly, the mouse hole was just an electrical outlet set back a bit into the baseboards.

This morning D, with a bit of help from me, got the bed all put back together. The logo on the white mattress proclaims loudly, STAY PURE! Still scratching my head…..  In case you’re wondering, the two water bladders are zipped into this cushy white mattress. The green eye on the wall is our resident creature from outer space.

Here’s the bed all made up, minus our pillows. Right now the water is warming, and we should be in our own bed tonight. I turned on the overhead light for this one.

When we moved from Tennessee into this house in the early 1980s, we had no bed for several weeks. Instead, we camped out on the living room floor on the mattress we’d slept on for years (yes, on the floor) in South Carolina, California, and Tennessee. Our current house was built by a local carpenter for his family of 10 children. The huge attic (transformed a year ago) was for his boys. I think there were 5. And yes, there were several sisters, too.

At any rate, our first major furniture purchase when we moved to Pennsylvania was this waterbed. We’ve never regretted it.

Happy Monday, again, and peace, especially for everyone going through tough, sad, disorienting or lonely times.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 September 2019
Photos taken by me, with my iPad,
22 and 23 September 2019

Forget the third day | Our 9/11 Wedding

11 September 1965
D and I on the right; Sister #2 and J (now deceased) on the left

It’s already the 4th day of our bedroom and den updates. Yesterday was chaotic, at least for me. Our painters/carpenters got down to the nitty gritty. Translation: lots of noisy pounding, trips up and down the stairs to bring in supplies, and prepping the new den and bedroom ceilings for paint.

This morning they removed heavy old furniture from the bedroom, installed new baseboards and a bookshelf, and who knows what else. Lots of up and down the stairs again, plus sawing and pounding.

Yesterday was our 54th wedding anniversary, marked by the absence of any big celebration. Partly because of tributes to all those impacted by the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks 18 years ago. Sadly, we’ve inherited more problems we never saw coming, and seem to be without resources to address long-term. That would be ongoing fallout from long-term health and well-being issues.

So what about our 54 years of marriage? On the day we married, D and I inherited challenges we never saw coming. So what has it taken to survive and thrive? Here’s some of what it’s meant for me.

  • Learning to ask for help from trustworthy people
  • Learning to tell D things I don’t want to talk about because I feel embarrassment, shame or humiliation
  • Learning to listen to D without jumping in to have my say before he’s finished with his say
  • Overcoming my fear of being female in a male-dominated world–without making D the enemy
  • Making painful mistakes in my relationship with D and starting over–small steps, one at a time
  • Learning, especially now, to let D do what I might be able to do for myself, but don’t have energy to accomplish
  • Forgetting about perfection in anything–housecleaning, playing the piano, keeping to a schedule….
  • Taking time to be together away from home–Longwood Gardens, the Zoo, church, visiting neighbors and family members….
  • Ending each day together, relaxing with Smudge on our laps sound asleep!

All this and more, of course. The bottom line is still the same: Marriage has been hard work and a form of dying. Not in a morbid way, but dying to My dreams for us, My way of seeing D’s world, My brilliant ideas….and finding there’s life in creative thinking together about even the most difficult problems We face.

Thanks for visiting!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 September 2019
Photo of the lovely couples; taken 11 September 1965 in the church basement following our double wedding ceremony; Savannah, Georgia

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