Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Category: Marriage

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

On the first and last day

On the first and last day, She said:
Let there be light in dark corners
Music in the streets with dancing
Pardon for everyone laboring
Under the grand delusion that
Time and good-will effort will solve
Every problem we’ve conceived
And brought to late and early-term birth
Now scattered across the face of the waters
The forests the rivers and the high places

The poem isn’t an effort to solve our environmental problems. It’s another way of pointing to them, regardless of what happens next. We can’t dance them away, as if they weren’t that bad. We can, however, step back and come at this in a different way. We need more than well-intended efforts to do (or feel) good.

This morning feels a bit chaotic. Day 1 of work on our bedroom and den. In the meantime, orderly chaos reigns in our offices and the attic. So far I’ve managed to keep my protected zones of sanity clear of clutter, though I’m already hazy about where we squirreled things away.

Hoping for breaks in today’s cloudy sky, and an opportunity to walk outside with D.

Happy Monday!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 September 2019
Image of street band at SXSW in Austin, Texas, found at Flickr.com

Shades of memories

What will become of today
After the sun sets
And the moon moves on
To other nights
In other places

Will anyone remember
Or care what happened
Just now
When I laid eyes on you
And you on me

Shades of memories echo
From your eyes and face
Just beyond reach
Whispers calling to me
In the dark of dawn

A small poem for a large presence in my life. I’ll never forget the first day D’s eyes smiled at me. Just the way they do today. It was 1961. I was a sophomore in college; he was a junior. The quiet type, except for that sparkle in his eyes. I’d never had a man, or boy for that matter, smile at me with his eyes the way D did. To say I went all weak inside would be an understatement. Now, 58 years later, he still has the gift.

Happy Wednesday!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 August 2019
Image found at creativelive.com

The Watchers

Uninvited and hovering
Spirits of the living dead
Fill air space
Drowning me in female shame
For this my body

In vain I cover my face
Hide from myself
And this present moment
Made mad by
Prying eyes and ears
Of a thousand intrusions
On this my body broken –
Now gasping for air

The feeling of being watched was more than a feeling when I was growing up. It was the norm. When I married and moved with D to our first home, I didn’t have a clue how much baggage I brought to our marriage.

Some of my baggage was easily dumped. No problem! Glad to be rid of it.

And yet…other things had taken root in me. Especially those intrusive, internalized, incessant monitors making sure I didn’t do anything a Good Girl wouldn’t do. Or worse, the feeling of being watched by intruders no matter what I was doing.

I don’t know how to talk about this publicly. I do, however, know many of us struggle with internal feelings and habits we never chose to internalize. Things we thought we could leave behind when we left home.

D and I have now renovated/reclaimed five major areas in our current home. Our bedroom is next, thanks to our leaking waterbed. It’s high time. In fact, I have the great leak to thank for prompting me to rethink what’s happening with Our Bedroom. Which, just to be clear, belongs to Us, not to Them.

Happy Monday, and Happy Reclamation Projects!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 August 2019
Found at medium.com/@emilykoziura9

Another clean-out marathon

I love water. Well, most of the time. As you can see, the water fountain above is gorgeous, doing exactly what it’s meant to do. Overflowing in abundance as planned. Which is exactly what didn’t happen here at home on Monday.

As some of you know, we’re the happy owners of a waterbed. So…on Monday evening, just as we were going to bed, I looked over at D’s pillow. It was wet….as were the sheets on his side of the bed.

Our trusty waterbed had just that day sprung a leak–not a tiny, slow leak, but a medium-sized mess now overflowing on D’s side of the bed. Contained, but slowly turning his side into a swamp!

Happily, we decided it’s time to have our bedroom refurbished. Ordering the new waterbed mattress was a cinch. The other stuff isn’t. So now we’re in the middle of divesting ourselves of yet more accumulated stuff, and dealing with the sudden disorientation of it all.

Thankfully, this clean-out isn’t as huge as last year’s attic renovation. In case you don’t remember, here are before and after photos. As I recall, we had about 6500 books in the attic, plus years of accumulated files and piles. At least we’re not dealing with that again….

That’s the news for today! Back to sorting and moving stuff around. And, hopefully, posting a few things from time to time.

With cheers for good change and sneers for leaky waterbeds,
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 August 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser at Longwood Gardens Conservatory (24 July 2019), and in our attic (Summer 2018)

Lily Ponds and Platters at Longwood 2019 | Photos


Have you ever seen such a pretty dragon fly? The blue in the background isn’t the sky. It’s one of the Longwood lily ponds. Here’s an overview from the far side, looking back at part of the Conservatory. It was about 1pm.


We happened to get there just as one of the gardeners jumped into the water and started pruning back huge platters and long stems beginning to collide with each other. The first pieces are lying there on the sidewalk. On the whole, I’d say he was merciless! Without regular pruning, the platters and long underwater stems will overtake everything. Each of these particular platters can grow nearly a foot a day. Or was it a yard? It was a lot!

As he hacked away, he attracted a small audience, and the pile on the side kept growing. I was surprised to see how spikey these gorgeous platters were on the edges and undersides.


I think the two specimens below are young, unfolding platters. I wouldn’t want to meet up with either of them on a dark night. The largest mature platters can hold up to 100 pounds each, providing you don’t think it’s a trampoline.



I don’t know whether the blossom behind the platter just above is the same as the blossom below. It seems it might be. In any case, it has its own spikey armor. Not what I’d usually associate with lovely, innocent water lilies.

In one of the corner ponds we saw this interesting water plant. It’s often called Nile cabbage because it was first discovered near Lake Victoria in Africa. Though lovely, it’s super invasive and a breeding ground for mosquitoes. On the positive side, it can be used in tropical aquariums to provide hiding places for small fish. It’s also used to control algae blooms. Still, I was glad to see only one of these on display, floating in its special little water tub among the lilies and other water plants.

Who doesn’t love lotus blossoms? There were several large lotus plants in the ponds. Don’t miss the pod in the center of the first blossom. I thought the pod itself was quite regal, as well!

Here are several other favorites. Sometimes the leaves are as spectacular as the blossoms.


And just a few more. That’s papyrus thriving in a shaded corner of the pond garden, just next to the conservatory. I don’t recognize the flowering water plant in the second photo.



Finally, just to prove I was there, here’s a lovely photo of Longwood Hybrid Platters, and of me standing patiently beneath the shade of a potted plant, while D takes as many photos as he would like! Look for blue jeans, a sun shirt, a white sun hat and a back pack.


I can still feel the heat of the sun when I look at these photos. Still, it was a cool weather day compared to what we had for days before, and will have more of this coming week.

Thanks for dropping by!
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 July 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 24 July 2019
Lily Pond Garden at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA

Late Spring at Longwood 2019 | Photos B


Walking in the meadow is the opposite of strolling down the flower walk at Longwood. The flower walk fairly screams (in a lovely voice, of course) for you to pay attention. In the meadow the vast fields and expansive sky overwhelm everything. If you want to see what’s happening, you have to keep your eyes peeled. A good photographer helps, too! Without D’s photo above, I might have missed those three tiny blossoms.

Ditto for this unusual display:

Instead of going up through the middle of the meadow, we decided to take a longer walk to a forested area. It’s full of birch trees, has a stream flowing through it, and lower temperatures than the open meadow.

The first photo below features a lovely grassy path. The second is an old farm house converted into an historical museum about this land and its uses over the years. We didn’t walk that far this time. If you visit Longwood, a small tram makes regular trips back and forth to the museum. It’s well worth a visit. Air conditioned, with restrooms.

As we descend toward the birch tree forest, the path looks a bit like a washed out gulley. Even so, the little butterfly didn’t mind! I think it’s a Painted Lady. In the third photo we’re in the wooded area, standing on a small bridge, looking down at mud and debris left over from spring rains.




Below are twisted roots of a tree just beside the creek. They’ve ventured into the water. In the second photo, taken from the opposite side of the bridge, water is flowing downhill over rock formations. Though you can’t see them, hungry mosquitoes are in feast mode! We didn’t linger.

We passed numerous bird houses, with or without roof-top gardens; some with occupants. The two birds below are swallows.

At the top of the meadow this bee hotel had already hatched most of its occupants. A nearby sign explained all.


The meadow has several shaded places to sit down and rest a bit, some fancier than others. Here’s my favorite top-of-the-meadow resting spot. We’re beneath large old shade trees, looking out at the view.



Here are examples of what we saw on the way downhill to the formal gardens, plus a look back at the museum on the far side of the meadow. Don’t miss that juicy grub in the first photo!

Every time we visit Longwood, I get teary when we reach the meadow. Partly because walking in it with D has been part of my recovery from whatever ailed me over the last several years. I remember when it was just a big piece of land, not open as a garden for visitors. Now, every time we leave I’m grateful for one more opportunity to just be there.

As always, thanks for coming along. I hope you enjoy some healing beauty in your life today, along with the other stuff.

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 June 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 12 June 2019, Longwood Gardens Meadow

%d bloggers like this: