Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Category: Marriage

Late Summer at Longwood Gardens 2021 | Photos

The sun was out; the sky was blue; there was a lovely breeze in the air; humidity was low; and school was back in session! The perfect recipe for a not-too-crowded visit to Longwood Gardens. Plus, it was our one-day-early 56th wedding anniversary! All photos were taken by David.

Below is the central pond in Longwood’s famous water lily garden. Since there’s no easy way to capture the whole show, I’ve picked out some favorites, including one young platter still unfolding/unrolling its brand new pad. A small water ferry for a princess!

The corner pond below borders the conservatory hallway just next to an indoor desert garden display. The photos below highlight gorgeous leaves and one spectacular snow-white water lily.

We could have spent the entire day in the water lily garden. However, the sun, our determination to see the flower walk, and my yearning to walk through the meadow yet again kept us going. Besides, we were hungry for lunch. So when we walked back through the conservatory, here’s what we saw hanging from the rafters and lining the path to food and more late-summer beauty.

Finally, here’s what we saw when we sat down to eat our Happy Anniversary lunch at Longwood Gardens Café:

David’s lovely salad bowl

My cup of vegetarian chili full of surprises beginning with hot pepper.
Need I say more? 

We had a beautiful day roaming here and there. I’m hoping to post some of my favorite flower walk and meadow photos. But not today.

Thanks for stopping by!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 September 2021
Photos taken by DAFraser at Longwood Gardens, 10 September 2021

Life disrupted

Taken the day before our 56th wedding anniversary in
the Longwood Gardens Conservatory

Life’s disruptions don’t
Knock politely at the door
No matter the time of day
Or night

How quickly
Things change or
So it seems
Though looking back
The signs were screaming
At me in early warnings
Burning through thick
Clouds of denial
And my belief that this
Couldn’t be happening
To me

I know what it is. I won’t know for over a month the extent of damage already done to my feet and legs. My kind, knowledgeable physician’s assistant will need to poke my feet and legs with needles, among other things. That happens in late October.

Still, I know what this intruder is. It’s already reshaping my life, though I’m not ‘officially’ a candidate for this plague. Peripheral Neuropathy. Fancy words for burning feet and all that goes with it.

Most difficult right now is learning (by hit and miss) how much I can walk or stand on my feet before they scream for mercy. I’m grateful for orthopedic sandals that help ease the pain, though even they can’t make the pain go away. I’m learning the hard way to sit as often as needed, and walk as often as feasible.

This morning I returned to an old discipline that helps me stay centered when things are tough: three pages of nonstop writing. Whatever pops into my mind, no matter what kind of language it requires! I highly recommend it.

Thanks for stopping by, and for being part of my life. The photo at the top is to let you know I haven’t forgotten the promised Longwood Gardens post!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 22 September 2021
Photo taken by DAFraser in the Longwood Gardens Conservatory, 10 September 2021

Our 9/11/1965 Wedding Anniversary

Saturday, 9/11/2021, is our 56th wedding anniversary. Tomorrow we’re taking off for Longwood Gardens to celebrate. Most of the news will be focused on what happened 20 years ago, and the way our nation has changed since then.

So what about 56 years of marriage? When D and I married in 1965, we inherited challenges we didn’t see coming. For my part, I thought all my problems, if I had any, would magically fade away. Instead, it took years to recognize how handicapped I was on our wedding day. Here’s a look at some of what it took for me to address habits and assumptions I brought into our marriage.

  • Admitting I needed help with depression, and connecting with trustworthy people such as Al-Anon friends and my psychotherapist, beginning in my mid to late 40s
  • Telling D things I didn’t want to talk about because I felt embarrassment, shame or humiliation
  • Listening to D without jumping in to have my say before he finishes what he has to say
  • Overcoming my fear of being female in a male-dominated world–without making D the enemy
  • Talking about painful mistakes and starting over with small steps, one at a time
  • Learning to accept and live with health issues I didn’t see coming
  • Letting D sometimes do things I’ve usually done for myself, but don’t now have energy to accomplish
  • Accepting less than perfection in housecleaning and keeping to a schedule
  • Taking time to get away from our house via walks in the neighborhood, visits to Longwood Gardens, church as we’re able, and back yard conversations with neighbors
  • Spending time together each evening with Smudge snoozing on our laps

Today my bottom line is still the same as ever: Marriage takes hard work and willingness to die. Not physical death, but dying to my dreams for us, my way of seeing D’s world, my brilliant ideas….and finding there’s hope in creatively rethinking together our daily or long-term challenges. Especially now, 20 years after the 9/11 attack, and just 2 years into Covid nightmares, weather-related upheavals, and a breakdown of goodwill.

Thanks for your visit today! Each moment of today is a precious opportunity to reach out to those we love.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 September 2021
Photo of two lovely couples taken 11 September 1965 in the church basement following our double wedding ceremony in Savannah, Georgia. Sister #2 is on the left with her husband (now deceased).

Late Spring Photos 2021 | Longwood Meadow

Here they are! Some of D’s photos from our latest visit to Longwood Gardens. The day was sunny and breezy, not too hot or cold. First, here’s what we saw when we crossed the bridge leading to the meadow. Yes, that would be me with my trusty backpack and sun hat.

And what might this be?

It’s the back of a turtle in the pond coated with yellow-green algae. Look carefully and you might see the outline of the turtle’s head on the right. The catbird below was perched just above the pond and turtle.

Now we’re over the bridge, at one of the main entrances to the meadow.
This first glimpse always takes my breath away.
Sort of like coming home after a long trip,
and tearing up in a good way.

Right away we hear and see red-winged blackbirds.
If you have good eyes (or a magnifying glass),
you might spot an insect in this male blackbird’s beak.

Later in the summer and fall, the meadow will be blazing with yellow. Right now it’s all about new  green growth, plus colorful blooming ‘weeds’ and the enormously popular mating season.

In the three photos below, even though the plant colors are subdued, they stand out against the sea of green. Not so immediately visible are three insects, all in the same photo. Can you find them? Hints: One insect is very small and dark; the others are a bit larger and are getting on with the business of producing the next generation.

Here’s a look into the distance from one side of the meadow.
As you can see, growth is still in early stages.

What a gorgeous roof (below)!
I’m not sure whether this is for birds or other meadow dwellers.
Still, I love the stylish hat…

Finally, iridescent beauty below. Four of my favorites,
partly because of their colors.
Also because of their size.
The kind of early beauty that’s often hard to find or see,
in the unpredictable disorderliness of the meadow.

I’m grateful our Creator sees every bit of beauty on this earth, including beauty where we least expect to find it — in each of us, in strangers, and in neighbors.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 22 June 2021
Photos taken by DAFraser, Longwood Meadow Garden, 16 June 2021

impressions of yesterday

1963 Aug Elouise Double Exposure flipped

A bit of nostalgia. We visited our son’s family yesterday for the first time since pre-Covid social distancing. This morning I couldn’t help thinking about this photo. It still makes me smile! Can you see D’s smiling face on my cheek? 

impressions of yesterday
captured by accident
a remarkable mistake
turned into a keepsake
hopes and dreams
yet to be realized
outer signs of internal graces
made strong through
the tempering heat
of life lived wide awake
in person and together
the beauty of two souls
bound together in one image

The photo was taken by a friend. We were at Tybee Island Beach near Savannah, Georgia. D had just taken the photo of me with the old roller rink in the background. He forgot to advance the film before our friend took a photo of us together. So we ended up with this dream-like double exposure.

The day was momentous. This was only minutes before D proposed to me as we walked down the beach. If it had been today, I might have proposed to him many months earlier. But that was then—August 1963, weeks before D left for the West Coast, and a year before I graduated from college. I was almost 20 years old.

Don’t miss the prices on the side of the pavilion. You can have a good laugh at how ‘cheap’ things were back then. The pavilion, with its roller rink, is long gone—doomed because of building code upgrades. A good thing, yet looking at this double exposure makes me long a bit for the good old days.

Impressions only? I don’t think so. Memories are dear, and now make up the majority of my lived world. They also capture reality—along with a healthy dose of nostalgia.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 May 2017, reposted 7 June 2021
Double exposure taken by DAF and a friend, Aug 1963

The life of birds

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, adult male

Mouthing birdseed
and surveying what lies
around and behind him,
a young male grosbeak
shows off his brand new
white back feathers and
blossoming rose-breasted chest

Nowhere to go
in particular and
not much to say,
he munches birdseed
and enjoys an early
morning breakfast
before moving on

Reminder of a new day; reminder of Spring’s heartbreaking beauty; reminder of how vast this world is and how small and earthbound we humans are.

For the last few weeks D and I have been (yet again) sorting through our many books that sometimes weigh us down. We’ve been through this drill more than once, thanks to our academic lives and limited shelf space. I’ve often said our main decorative scheme is Books and More Books, closely followed by Shelves and More Shelves.

Some books and manuscripts are sacrosanct. This includes my collection of hymnbooks and piano scores going back to my childhood piano lessons. Plus those favorite recipe books (now antiques) that I rarely use anymore. Plus our bird and plant identification books, old college and graduate school yearbooks, and would you believe multiple translations of the Bible?

Sometimes I wish I had the life of a bird. Especially on a sunny Spring day with plenty of food and water available and not a hawk in sight.

However, on the whole, I’m grateful for the life I’ve had. Not because it was easy, but because it was and still is difficult, breathtaking, exciting, nerve-wracking, crazy-making, beautiful and precious.

On that note, I’m back to the attic to work through another bookcase.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 May 2021
Photo found at pinterest.com

Chasing Spring at Longwood | Photos

This morning I woke up wishing I were in Longwood Gardens. So here’s a quick tour of my first visit to the Gardens nearly one year after breaking my jaw in April 2016. Our daughter and her husband were visiting from Portland, Oregon. 

Two days ago we took a chance on the weather. D and I, our daughter and her husband piled into the car and drove to Longwood Gardens. My first visit since April 2016. The forecast promised breaks of sun during the day, and temperatures above 60 degrees F. Here are choice photos from our great adventure. Enjoy!

The garrulous catbird in the top photo greeted us in the parking lot.
Never missed a beat.

Here’s a first glimpse of Spring 2017 at Longwood Gardens,
just outside the visitor’s center.

These giant copper beech are across the field,
a first gorgeous sight as we leave the visitor’s center.
Note tiny people on the left side of the tree walk.

Heading toward the flower walk, we’re walking into
the small desert garden of sun-lovers.
No trees overhead.

Turning right, we start down the ‘cool’ color end of the flower walk.
Imagine masses of flowers that look like a living
patch-work quilt that changes each season and every year.

Just to the right of the center fountain in the flower walk
is a beautiful sunken garden
with a serpent fountain overlooking a water pot.
Imagine the sound of water almost everywhere in the gardens.

Now we move into ‘warm’ colors, followed at the end
by a patch of cool green foliage and flowering whites.


Finally, gorgeous blooming wisteria in a shady space
just downhill, beside the flower walk.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 May 2017, reposted 5 May 2021

Photo credit: DAFraser
Longwood Gardens in Kennet Square, Philadelphia

Early Spring at Longwood | Photos 1

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Rosebud popping out and a vacant bird nest for rent near Longwood’s large lake

Here’s a repost of some favorite photos. They’re about new life and new growth emerging from what often looks like death or the end of the world as we’ve know it. Signs of hope and beauty. Not forever, but for a season.

Yesterday was gorgeous! Cloudy, breezy, mild. Perfect for visiting Longwood Gardens. Here are some favorites taken, as always, by D. All I did was point my finger now and then if he hadn’t already clicked the camera!

We’re at the front end of the flower walk, near the main entrance.
These perky blossoms were in the cacti and succulent area,
popping up out of the gravel.
They look like they’re crafted from crepe paper.

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Nearby were more sedate, formal stonecrop
in different shapes and patterns.
This one wasn’t as uptight as some of the others!

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The following are from the flower walk itself–
a formal promenade between ever-changing seasonal plants and flowers.
Yesterday only the early signs of spring were out.
Even so, it was spectacular, and had me in tears a few times.
There’s something healing about seeing life
spring from the still-cold ground.

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Here we have early spring tulips,
followed by daffodils against a stone wall
and another variety of tulip.

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This is one of Longwood’s magnificent Japanese cherry trees in full bloom.
We’re just over halfway through the flower walk.
You can see scores of tulips and other bulbs not yet in bloom.
Three views of the cherry tree–

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P1120793 P1120803
Finally, a few more early tulips in creamy white,
and dainty snowdrops.
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I wish I could have taken all of you with me in person!
I have more photos, though, and will share some of them later.
Happy weekend, everybody!
Smell a flower today and smile at someone you don’t even know.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 April 2016, reposted 8 April 2021
Photo credit: DAFraser, March 2016
Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania

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

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