Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Favorite Philly Zoo Photos | Part 2

Let’s go to the zoo again! You’ll recall that we’re in downtown Philadelphia visiting the oldest formal zoo in the USA. This was just over a week ago when it looked like Spring had finally arrived. D took this photo as we were leaving the zoo. The skipping girl and abstract deer are fairly flying through the air.

Which brings us to birds. First, here’s a peek at a caged primate enjoying the fly-around tube. Primates housed in protected areas (not outdoors) get to roam from time to time. The tube snakes like a railroad track through several areas of the zoo, so they get to watch us for a change!

The McNeil Avian Center was my favorite stop. The first area was wide open, with tropical plants and a stream. Exotic birds roamed at will, and guides were available to answer our questions. Other areas had protective boundaries, always with a variety of birds housed together, with plants and ground cover that suited their natural habitats.

As we walked back through the exhibits, the afternoon sun hit the ground. You can see what happened in the second photo. Sunbathing, bird style!

Our last photo stop tells a little story. Several peacocks roam the zoo. It’s spring. As you can see below Mr. Peacock is in resplendent glory. And he tries his best. For a long, long time he tries his best. And we all watch, hoping to see what we’ve never seen before…

Alas, Ms. Peacock seems to prefer the giant sea turtles. Or was it that other male screeching from across the sidewalk?

Thanks for coming along!
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 June 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser at the Philadelphia Zoo, May 2018

Yesterday’s children

Yesterday’s children
Peer back through
Clouded windows of
Earth-worn eyes
Sparkling with tears
Seeing and remembering
Laughing at foolishness

Wistful longing knocks
On the garden gate
Where today’s children
Peer through iron bars
Eager to become
The adults they imagine
Themselves to be

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 5 June 2018
Image found at gardenateaseshops.com

Drifting

Drifting —
Her uneasy spirit
Ticks off tasks
And activities
Afraid of being alone
Doing nothing
Weary of running
All her life
Reluctant to stop
Or listen
For fear she’ll hear
Nothing
Though everything
Surrounds her
Longing to be seen
Heard and loved
Just as it is –
Just as she is

Rarely in my lifetime have I described myself as drifting. I was diligent, dutiful, loyal and above all, busy. I was also filled with fear, driven consciously and unconsciously by the need for acceptance, affirmation and love.

The cost I paid for this approach to life didn’t seem high until later in life when things began falling apart. In fact, I thought that by excelling I wouldn’t have to pay a cost. Instead, I would make for myself another life. A happy life in which I was accepted, valued and loved by others.

The thought of loving and accepting myself was foreign, if not evidence of a falsely proud heart. Whatever Christian Scripture means when it says we’re to love our neighbors as ourselves, it couldn’t possibly mean loving myself. Especially just as I was and am. Self-indulgence was like worshiping another god.

I tend to internalize my world. Partly because of my personality, and partly from leftover shame (never good enough). This means, oddly, that something as simple as sitting quietly, listening to whatever I hear, feels dangerous. Maybe I’m not a good listener. (I don’t hear anything but my discomfort.) Or maybe I’m not as relaxed as I think I am. (My attention keeps wandering.)

Last week and this week I’m practicing doing as little as possible. I want to drift in a way that honors who I am. That means taking small opportunities to be alone with myself. Not to prove I can do this, but as a way of accepting who I am today, where I am, why I’m here, and loving what I discover.

Happy Monday, and happy drifting!

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 June 2018
Photo found at salainart.blogspot.com

Favorite Philly Zoo Photos | Part 1

I don’t generally like zoos. Nonetheless, the Philly Zoo has my admiration on several counts. Besides carefully thought-out habitations, it supports worldwide efforts to strengthen endangered species. The Zoo also houses endangered and almost extinct wildlife. It’s the first ‘proper’ zoo in the USA, and is located downtown in a busy area–lots of city traffic noise. You can find out more about the Zoo, with photos, at Wickipedia and at the Philadelphia Zoo site.

Following are some of D’s photos. I’ve chosen them based on what I love to look at. Usually because of color, light and shadows, though personality counts too. I don’t remember all inhabitants’ names or countries of origin, so won’t try. The photo at the top shows the area just outside the main entrance.

We began in the exotic (often endangered) species house. It was nap time!

 

 

Now we’re outside with flamingos and other warm-weather birds. Despite their stately appearance, the male flamingos were in a take-no-prisoner mood, with too many males vying for too few females who were already sitting on their still-empty mud nests. A Great Racket ensued every several minutes, especially from the Chief Male. The yellow iris were stunning, as were brilliant feathers the males kept ruffling and showing off.

Next up were warm-weather penguins. Cute and chubby. They’re followed by the loudest of the outdoor birds. They aren’t caged, and are sitting at the end of a lovely pond watching visitors go by. D’s pond photo is another of his impressionistic water shots.

 

Finally, in the spirit of taking it easy, here are some large animals who look cool to me.

Thanks for coming along! In Part 2 we’ll visit the aviary and our last heart-breaker stop for the day.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 June 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser at The Philadelphia Zoo, May 2018

Out of control

Four nights in a row. Out of control, nightmarish dreams that brought me to a full stop for a few days. I was in my dreams, but not in the driver’s seat. I wasn’t even in the vehicles. I was an onlooker, watching things go downhill with each increasingly dangerous iteration of the same scenario.

I don’t like starting over. I like getting into a groove and then letting things go ahead ‘as normal.’ Yet it seems nothing is normal anymore. Especially when it comes to my body.

A quick inventory:

Energy:
Back up to about 75%, after plummeting two years ago.

Sleep:
Definitely improved in the last three months so that I’m getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night without an unsightly number of bathroom visits. I know that’s not polite to talk about, but let’s just be real for a minute or two, OK?

Eating:
So healthy it makes me sick to think about it. Also the cause for most of my time management issues. Lots of cutting and chopping for those super-healthy smoothies, and constant vigilance about having the right stuff on hand. And then there’s that huge cleanup afterwards while I watch D make a sandwich, chomp a raw carrot, enjoy one small chocolate square, and be done with it.

Exercise:
Getting at least 2 miles of walking in a day, often more; burning well over 1300 calories a day; getting at least 30 minutes of ‘active’ walking a day. No complaints, except when it rains and I’m confined to indoor stairs and my small semi-recumbent bike.

Social Life:
It does happen sometimes. Yesterday we had another lively afternoon tea with our neighbors. Late last week I saw my nearly 85-year old friend Rita when we were out for a walk. And I go to church every Sunday where I’m known for standing around talking with my friends until I get run out. I’m not an extrovert, but I do love being with people, and miss the easy flow of socializing with friends and former colleagues.

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Sometimes I feel at peace. Yet most of the time I feel driven by whatever the next thing is. This includes time to rest each day—off my feet, relaxed, usually listening to music or taking a little snooze.

I want to experience peace more often, and not feel so driven by whatever the next thing is on my list. Or all those things that ‘should’ be on my list but aren’t.

I also want to keep an open mind about my lists. Most items are non-negotiable. I can rearrange some. Yet by the end of the day, I want to embody the spirit of this small prayer even though I don’t always succeed. I’m especially challenged by the last item.

I let go my desire for security and survival.
I let go my desire for esteem and affection.
I let go my desire for power and control.
I let go my desire to change the situation.

Quoted by Cynthia Bourgeault in Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, p. 147 (Cowley Publications 2004)

Right now it happens to be lunchtime, so I’ll happily retire to the kitchen….

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 31 May 2018
Photo found at wisegeek.com

Dust of the earth

This body
Like my heart
A house of Your creation
Stands ready to greet a stranger
Whose form and visage
is unexpected

Lost
Dust of the earth
Sorrowful yet not without hope
She stands
Waiting

I found this scrap of a poem in one of my old journals from two years ago. It makes more sense today than it did back then. In May 2016 the strangers were my broken heart and jaw, along with my face reflected in the mirror. A face I scarcely recognized.

I’ve been thinking about Psalm 23 this past week. Especially this line: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

I still believe the enemies are my enemies, not necessarily God’s enemies. And I still believe I’m invited to join the table with those who are my enemies, or seem enemy-like to me.

Nonetheless, last week I got thinking about aging, and the way these health and well-being strangers keep showing up at my front door. So I’ve reluctantly expanded ‘my enemies’ to include them.

This means I’m learning to receive them as strangers, and listen to what they have to say. Perhaps we can one day be friends. Or at least acquaintances?

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 May 2018
Photo found at islamforchristians.com

A little poem and some gorgeous photos

Sometimes I don’t know what to say. I just know there’s something inside that wants out. So here are bits and pieces that come to mind.

First, a little poem. Yesterday I went to see one of my doctors. As I was driving away, I saw an older couple making their way along the sidewalk across the street. I wrote this when I got home.

fragile and disheveled
the woman inches along
behind her walker —
sunlit hair gleams in the light
shining from her partner’s eyes

I hope I’m so happy when I’m that old. As for right now, I’m grateful for D who has done a lot of heavy lifting during the last three years. Often accompanied by one of his gorgeous smiles that begins in his eyes.

Second, one of D’s favorite things to do is record flowering shrubs around our yard. Here are some of his latest captures. Those are periwinkles at the top. Happily invasive, I wish they would completely over-run the ivy along our driveway.

blossoms outside my office window, Azalias below

Lilac blossoms below

and Spring Christmas cactus blossoms in our kitchen

Third, a photo I took this morning with my Ipad after I got back from an early morning walk. D had just finished mowing the yard, and the peonies were irresistible.

Finally, one more photo I took in the house. Smudge is sitting in his new (now old) favorite space, watching us clean things up in the kitchen. You can see his battered red birdie toys on the floor.

Gratitude. That’s what’s on my mind today. I’m grateful I’m alive and connected to so many people I never thought I’d meet in just this way. Blogging is part of what’s kept me going for the last four years. I could, I suppose, do it without you. But it wouldn’t be nearly so rewarding or life-changing for me.

Hoping you’re having a great weekend and Sabbath rest.
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 May 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser and ERFraser, Spring 2018

The High Cost of Living in the USA | Part 2

The high cost of living in the USA has fallen on African Americans from the very beginning of this nation. The goal has been and, it seems, still is to keep them in their places and optimize the gains of those in power. Including the power of those of us who think we have no power.

The high cost didn’t go down when slavery was outlawed. We simply notched it up with lynching, and then discovered mass incarceration. Some argue that mass incarceration is simply the latest way to get cheap labor and ‘disappear’ Black Americans without getting into legal trouble.

Are we the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes and no. Yes if you’re able to reach and maintain inner freedom and courage in the face of overwhelmingly negative odds. Perhaps we’ve looked to the wrong heroes to show us what true freedom and bravery looks like.

I remember more than one of my younger African American male seminarians telling me he didn’t think he’d live to be an adult. Besides a history of slavery, lynching and entrenched racism, there’s random gun violence every day, entrenched poverty, and limited options regardless of ability. Add to this the availability of drugs and alcohol, and the mistake of being in public space if you’re Black.

Last month a new Memorial to Peace and Justice opened. It’s dedicated to making visible our history of slavery, lynching and now mass incarceration. I want to visit this new Memorial before I die. Why? Because it’s past time to look at this part of my heritage as a white female.

In summer 1950, my family moved from California to rural Savannah, Georgia, just a short walk from what we called ‘colored town.’ I wasn’t aware of animosity between races. I was, however, painfully aware of economic disparities on display every day. Not just in our rural community, but in the city.

I now know from reading about the new memorial, and from this interactive map, that the state of Georgia is #2 in the list of states with the highest lynching record between 1882 and 1930. In fact, from 1877 to 1950, Georgia lynched 586 black men, women and children. Do you know how many were lynched in your state?

I’m told I enjoy white privilege. It’s true. When I get up in the morning I don’t have to worry about thousands of things including being seen in public as a white woman. I would suggest that this ‘privilege’ is better defined as white ignorance. I’ve learned, simply by breathing the air around me, how to be blind and unresponsive to what’s right before my eyes every day of my life.

So where do I go with this? Though data is important, I don’t think the solution lies in miles and miles of data. Instead, I’m rooting for the poets, the songwriters, the storytellers, and the truth tellers. Including truth-tellers like those who dreamed about and planned this new National Memorial.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 May 2018
Photo found at Wickipedia; y Shameran81 – Courtesy Middleton Place, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55786120

words escape her

words escape her
at the end of the day
the clock keeps ticking

Well…that’s where I am right now, even though I wrote it last night! I spent most of this afternoon on a WordPress problem which I finally resolved by opening up in another browser (Not Edge, but Chrome). Big sigh.

So I’ve decided to hold my post for today until tomorrow morning. At which time I’m hoping D, his trusty camera and I will be off to the zoo! The Philadelphia Zoo, that is.

Cheers!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 22 May 2018
Photo found at pinterest

morning, evening and a sigh

early morning calm
belies last night’s wild fury
now lost at sea

evening silence floats
through her weary body
soothing every ache

her old-woman sigh
fills the room with anguish —
outside the wind moans
hov’ring over the old house
waiting in the dark

Three from this past week, written separately. I don’t know who this woman is. She’s been showing up for a while now, waiting to be recognized and given a story. Maybe you know her?

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 22 May 2018

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