Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Category: Marriage

Shades of memories revisited

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, reposted 25 May 2022
Image found at creativelive.com

Farewell, Scotland! | Dear Readers 2

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Edinburgh Castle, high above the city

This week D and I have been looking at photos/slides taken in 2015 during our 50th wedding anniversary trip to Scotland.  It was fabulous! We flew out of Philadelphia on September 1 and spent nearly 2 ½ weeks in Scotland. Here’s one of my Scotland posts. A tiny peek into a stunning trip. Don’t miss the panorama below, taken from Edinburgh Castle. Click to enlarge (2 times if needed). 

For the record,

  • D drove us safely over 650 miles on the ‘wrong’ side of the road without any scrapes or bruises. Every now and then he had just a bit of what he called ‘terror on the road.’ Especially on the narrow, winding back roads we enjoyed for most the trip.
  • We have over 2000 photos to help us remember this fabulous trip.
  • We left our pedometers (Fitbits) at home, which is most unfortunate since we climbed up and down the equivalent of at least one mountain each, and walked over 100 miles each in cities, towns and forests.
  • We ate breakfast most days like royalty (thanks to our Bed & Breakfast master chefs!), learned to depend on TESCO and The Cooperative Stores found all over Scotland, and enjoyed more versions of yummy carrot-red lentil soup than I knew existed in this world. Usually served with an enormous, thick slice of heavenly bread.

We spent time in Edinburgh, North Berwick, Stirling, Glasgow, Oban (Isle of Mull and Iona), Grantown-on-Spey (Cairngorms National Park), Huntly (George MacDonald’s home), and Aberdeenshire (Castle Fraser).

Most amazing and somewhat strange was being together and doing only what we chose to do on any given day. The weather was mild, sometimes chilly damp and windy, but overall stunningly beautiful.

Here are several more photos from the first day of our trip. Enjoy!

First, a panorama looking down from the Edinburgh Castle to the City. Click on the photo to get a closer look. Can you see the ferris wheel?

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Here’s a flag of Scotland whipping around in the wind above the Castle. Note the wind-worn edge.

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Now we’re down on the street, walking away from the Castle.

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This colorful window garden caught my eye–one of several in a small, quiet courtyard just off the busy street.

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This magnificent organ was in the church where John Knox once preached. No, I didn’t get to hear it being played–one reason I have to go back some day!

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Finally, here’s a little street beauty from a residential area just below the Castle.

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I hope you all had at least one or two happy adventures during the last few weeks. If not, here’s hoping you survived whatever other adventures came your way.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 September 2015, lightly edited and reposted 11 May 2022
Photo credit: DAFraser, September 2015, Edinburgh, Scotland

My Great MRI Adventure | New Year’s Eve 2021

In knee-high socks
And ortho shoes she trips
The light fantastic

Light as a feather
Music spins through soft earphones
To another world

Silencing all noise
Beauty fills every fiber
Of her weary soul

I’m lying on a long, narrow table. A long capsule slides almost silently over my body.

I’ve been up since early in the morning. D is sitting in the waiting room. I’ve been told more than once that the MRI will take 15-20 minutes. My name is called. I’m ushered into a small room with a closet. I answer a barrage of questions I already answered online and in the waiting room. The woman helping me is kind.

She tells me how to put on the two gowns lying on the bench, and where to lock my clothing and belongings. The only things I’m allowed to wear are my knee-high socks and one other piece of clothing I will not name.

I emerge draped in two huge gowns.

I’m directed to a barber-shop like chair obviously made for people larger than I. I can’t lean back or touch the floor with my feet. I sit up straight and hold still while the pacemaker team disengages Lucy Pacemaker and makes sure they can monitor my heartbeat/arrhythmia while I’m having the MRI. This takes at least 20 minutes. I’m happy to say that everyone who worked with me treated me as the Queen I am, for which I was most grateful!

Finally, I’m escort by a female nurse to the MRI room. The male technician who will be in the room with me the entire time has me change my anti-Covid mask for their mask (not as nice as mine). He also has me leave my changing room key on the table. The nurse and technician help me onto a very narrow table.

As fast as lightning, the technician inserts ear plugs, adjusts my head, puts a large cushion beneath my legs and knees, glues and tapes stuff onto my chest to monitor my heartbeat, puts a finger clip on my right thumb, and a rubber ball in my left hand. I’m to squeeze it if, at any point, I’m not comfortable. If I squeeze it for any reason, the MRI will be terminated and rescheduled.

Finally, sheets are pulled up; my feet are positioned just right and strapped down so they won’t fall off the narrow table. The technician assures me that he’ll be in the room the entire time, ready to help me. Then he disappears somewhere behind my head, and the capsule starts sliding over my body. I decided early on to keep my eyes closed and practice relaxation breathing. I was not prepared for either the noise or the heat.

Nor was I prepared for the cacophony of diverse sounds that bounced around me. Sometimes there were lengthy pauses; sometimes only a few sounds. Other times it was like being caught in crossfire that didn’t want to end. I wasn’t prepared for this strange mixture that had no rhyme or reason.

However, somewhere along the way I thought about drum beats I’d heard when D and I were on sabbatical in Kenya. Instead of angst, I had a bit of curiosity and interest, though I was still shocked by the diversity and clamor of this strange machine.

Suddenly it was done. The young man and my nurse helped me back to my barber-shop chair. The nurse handed me a bottle of water which I drained to the last drop. Lucy Pacemaker was returned to being in charge of my heart. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and have D drive me home.

Thanks for visiting today! For 2022, I pray you and I will grow as truthtellers, no matter how difficult or dangerous it becomes.

Happy New Year!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 31 December 2021
Image found at wfmt.com

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

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