Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Dear Mom, I miss you today.

Happy Mother’s Day to all children of the world! My relationship with my Mom was complex, to say the least. I was always sad that she died first because we were just getting to know each other. That was in 1999, 18 years ago. I’m still discovering how much of her spirit resides in my spirit, and how much I owe her. Hope you enjoy the two old photos!

Telling the Truth

Eileen & Daughters flipped img003 Mom and Sisters #1, 2 and 3, Easter Sunday 1952 in Savannah. I’m on the right.

Dear Mom,

I miss you today. When I was growing up, I was pretty tight-lipped. I think it was my way of having some privacy. Still, there are things we never talked about that are on my mind today. Probably because I’ve been writing about going to seminary, and what Dad seemed to think about my decision.

Even though you didn’t say much about this, I knew you were proud of me and I never wondered whether I had your blessing. From the beginning you wanted to know about what I was studying, even though I didn’t always want to talk about it.

I can’t thank you enough for showing an interest in my studies and writing, even though you may not have agreed with everything I wrote. I often wonder whether you wanted to go back for more education. You would have been an…

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endless beauty

Final —
A heavy word
for dreamers of today

Shuffling through
the watercolor exhibition
my eyes fall on a small tangle
of blue-greens and light pinks
composed and serene
within a gothic arched mat

Exquisite detail sharply defined
invites my eyes to linger
on each small leaf,
each tiny stem and blossom
flourishing at ground level
within trailing vines of small ivy

The work of yesterday’s dreamer
who found endless beauty
lying at his feet

Yesterday D and I were at the Philadelphia Art Museum to see a special exhibition of watercolors from the 1800s and early 1900s. I was captivated by this artist’s vision and clear determination to paint the small things. In part because the possibilities were endless, no matter where he looked.

I couldn’t help thinking about my writing–especially now, as my world seems to be shrinking. I found this artist’s vision challenging and encouraging. He gave up trying to paint the big things. Partly because so many were already doing that. More than that, he was captured by his love for painting ‘into’ the small things.

There’s nothing final about vision, is there? Seeing into the smallest details of life gives me joy and a sense of purpose. A way of connecting with others as I’m connecting more deeply with myself and my spiritual development.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 May 2017
Photo credit: DAFraser, May 2017
Ivy-covered wall inside the Conservatory at Longwood Gardens
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Final

Chasing Spring at Longwood | Photos

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

Photo credit: DAFraser
Longwood Gardens in Kennet Square, Philadelphia
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Pursue

Ode to Cruciferous Delight

First things first for amateur poets such as I:
Ode – a lyric, often overly embellished poem
Meant to be sung or chanted with rapture

Please note no resemblance
Between ‘ode’ and ‘odiferous’ or ‘cruciferous’
Which meaneth no clothespins or otherwise pinch-ed nostrils

I commence herewith—

Loveliest of bitters, I adore you
With every aching cell of my body
And from the depths of my deep kidney hunger

My body aches for your bitter potion
That bringeth solace and life to my most inward of inward parts
Blazing a path of glorious heat

Straight and steady as an arrow
You sweetly sour my tongue, my throat, my very life
With your healing poison

You causeth my lips to pucker
And my tongue it quivereth with heat
My kidneys anticipate the glories of your delectable cleansing

Forgive me, dear radishes, brussels sprouts,
Kale, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, and your near cousins
Sweetly called lemon and lime

How did I live my life so long
Without your tender ministrations burning
In the most secret of secret depths of my being?

Should you e’er forsake me
I will languish tormented as I await
The joyous moment of our bitter-sweet reunion!

Thus endeth my Ode to Cruciferous Delight.

Written in honor of my CKD (Chronic Kidney Delight) diet, mostly raw and bitter
Special thanks to my trusty Vitamix that maketh all things possible


©Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 May 2017
Photo found at
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Bitter

Just to let you know…

Dear Friends,

Our daughter and her husband arrived Wednesday night for an eagerly anticipated visit with us. I’m in Mom Heaven! Though the weather is cool, damp and rainy, my heart is warm, happy and sometimes achy-teary. This is the first time a visit has felt so heavy with change and uncertainties.

Yesterday was gorgeous. We went to the super market and brought home lots of good veggies, fruit, and other things healthy and not-so-healthy. I’m sticking to my disgustingly healthy CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) diet, and enjoying every opportunity for conversation and afternoon walks.

The rest of the week promises versions of today: messy/rainy on the outside, laid back and warm on the inside. I hope your weekends also include time for conversation that matters with people you love.

I’ll post as I’m able.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 5 May 2017
Photo found at

Happy Cinco de Mayo?

~~May 5, 1862, the siege of Puebla, from a 1901 series of children’s booklets

Cold rain falls steadily
Undermines foundations of trust
Changes perceptions overnight
With over-bold strokes of an executive pen

Stern pretentious words
Proclaim Our America First–
Not Yours!

Bold singing and dancing
Brilliantly costumed adults and children
Delectable Mexican food
Proclaim ‘Happy Cinco de Mayo!’
Against all odds now, as then.

To live the truth of freedom
Is more powerful than a thousand strokes
Of a cold executive pen

Thank you for inspiring us
To live freely, boldly and with flair
In the midst of dull predictable chaos


© Elouise Renich Fraser 5 May 2017
Image found at
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Lifestyle

Beholden to no one

Beholden to no one
Proud head held high
He sweeps past
With grace in his wings
Pauses in midair
Before dropping down
For a singular feast
On juicy insects bored
From a rotting tree trunk

My feet rooted to the ground
I watch his great beak extract
Life from dust of the earth
Still calm and confident
he lifts his regal head
Surveys the cemetery
Spreads his sweeping wings
And sails majestically over
White gravestones
Silent in awe of his beauty

Wings flapping slowly
He salutes those who are gone
Then rises into dusky air
Lost in a stand of spruce and beech
Giants welcoming his arrival
With graceful open arms

Seen on a walk with D several evenings ago, just after sunset. The male pileated woodpecker was brilliant in red, black and white, calm and confident. I hadn’t seen one in the park for more than four years. Just one call with its haunting rise and slight fall alerted us. He seemed quite comfortable being the star of his show. As though the king or queen were passing by. Unafraid, self-possessed and gracefully regal.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 May 2017
Photo found at

Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: None

I don’t know where to begin…

So I’m just going to blunder along for a bit. Which is, I’m told, the best way to begin. I think Eeyore would agree with me.

I’m a total novice when it comes to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). It wasn’t on my horizon and it isn’t in my family of origin.

But that doesn’t matter now. I have it. Stage 3A. In fact, I probably passed ‘Go’ well over a year ago without even knowing it.

So here I am. Floundering around, lurching through each day with emotional highs and lows, energy highs and lows, eating highs and lows, and little sense of overall wellbeing.

High means I’m upbeat, alert, happy to be alive, and at peace with my body. Giving happy hugs to D.

Low means I’m virtually asleep, can’t move a muscle including my brain, and don’t want to look at another healthy smoothie or make another easy-to-chew soup or stew. Weeping silently or openly. Collecting hugs from D as needed.

Do I feel sorry for myself? No, I don’t. Nor do I ask God, “Why me?” There are millions of us out there with this disease. What I regret is the relative invisibility of the disease—often until it’s too late.

Which raises the question of my status. You might think Stage 3A out of 5 stages is fairly decent. Answer: It is and it isn’t. It’s better than Stage 3B. That’s when you start talking about what’s coming in Stage 4 (preparation for the end game). Followed quickly by Stage 5 (dialysis, kidney transplant and, sooner or later, death).

At Stage 3A I have the possibility of leading a different yet fairly ‘normal’ life. That means constant attention to self-care, lab tests, and endless appointments with various doctors. Some people are able to reverse the progress of CKD, but it’s rare at Stage 3. Difficult but possible at Stage 2; often possible at Stage 1.

So what’s the solution? For me, I’m in a crash course I didn’t want. That means reading books, finding online resources, talking with family members, facing the reality that this is a terminal illness for which there is no magic pill. And of course, writing about it, especially about how I’m feeling.

It also means reordering each day as it progresses. Do I need to take a little nap? Meditate? Write my heart out? Do nothing but sit on the porch listening to the birds? Listen to music? Take a little walk? Have a good cry? A good rant?

This is an invisible disease. If you could see me, you probably wouldn’t know anything’s amiss. Most people without CKD haven’t heard much about it, think they won’t get it, or don’t know how to determine whether they’re at risk. Yet millions of us have it. Go figure.

I’ll post more from time to time. Not necessarily because you need to know, but because I want you to know and it helps immensely to write it out and make it public.

Thanks for visiting and reading!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 May 2017
Image found at
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Apprentice

Fear has no wings

I was born into a Christian sub-culture driven by fear. Fear of the world, and fear of God whose all-seeing eye follows us day and night.

This was both comforting and terrifying. The world ‘out there’ was harsh and unforgiving. A dangerous place for little girls and big girls. I needed a Guardian.

Yet God’s all-seeing eye was taking notes. Was I being naughty or nice? Was I pleasing God or making God sad, angry or disgusted?

It was super-important to be productive as well as untouched and untainted by ‘the world.’ Evil lurked around every corner. Fear was the best preventive medicine I could take.

Fear helped me keep rules. Fear helped me develop keen eyes for what would please people in authority over me. Fear surreptitiously kept my hand to the grindstone. I wanted to be ready for the day when God would judge me for what I had done and not done.

I grew up without wings. Instead, I developed a remarkable talent for trying harder and jumping higher. Failure or even the whiff of failure was devastating.

Now, many failures later, I’ve begun developing tiny wings. Baby wings. The kind I trimmed back most of my life, trying to stay in the nest and out of trouble.

Being born plopped me into an aching world fraught with pain and anguish, troubles upon troubles. It’s impossible to stay out of trouble if I’m alive and breathing. Whether it’s my fault or not isn’t the issue.

Today I accept trouble in my life. Not because it’s good, but because it helps me develop baby wings. It helps me look up and around, gaining a glimpse of where I might fly next. I don’t want to waste more time trying to jump higher.

Here’s a favorite quote from Simone Weil’s Waiting for God. The highlighting is mine.

There are those people who try to elevate their souls
like someone who continually jumps from a standing position
in the hope that forcing oneself to jump all day—and higher every day—
they would no longer fall back down, but rise to heaven.
Thus occupied, they no longer look to heaven.

We cannot even take one step toward heaven.
The vertical direction is forbidden to us.
But if we look to heaven long-term,
God descends and lifts us up.
God lifts us up easily.

As Aeschylus says,
‘That which is divine is without effort.’
There is an ease in salvation more difficult for us than all efforts.

In one of Grimm’s accounts, there is a competition of strength
between a giant and a little tailor.
The giant throws a stone so high that it takes a very long time
before falling back down.
The little tailor throws a bird that never comes back down.
That which does not have wings always comes back down in the end.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 April 2017

Photo of baby golden-eye ducks found at

Knackered Friday?

Are you knackered? This great word comes from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia and beyond. Here are several visual definitions. For the benefit of all who are too knackered to read on.

First, a photo of Smudge (above), taken several days after he was rescued dripping wet, voracious and exhausted, by our granddaughters and their mother. Knackered. As in all tuckered out.

Here are four other helpful overviews, thanks to Google,
beginning with my personal favorite:

And three more, in case you need further insight:

Me either!

Here’s to an unknackered weekend!
With sincere apologies to my many friends
who know far more and better
than I do about knackered.

Dare I ask: Are you knackered? Feel free to share your experiences!
Or not.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 April 2017
Photo/Image credits:
Megan Naugle Fraser, Smudge, taken 11 August 2013
Knackered Mom:
Knackered Dog:
Knackered Cat:
Knackered Relaxing Oat Bath Mile:

Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Knackered

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