Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Adventure

The way from here

 

The way from here
Grows narrow
A finely chiseled path
From this life
To a world as unknown
As life beyond
The womb

When did birthing begin
And when will it end?

Wondering out loud
I search for midwives
To encourage me now
As in the past
How many and for how long
I cannot say
As I set out on another adventure
Another letting go
Another arrival
Somewhere
Into the waiting hands
And hearts of those
Who love me in life
And in death

How do we learn to die? How do we learn to give birth? How do we learn to say enough is enough? Or no, thank you, I’m not going to opt into our reigning medical model of trying whatever can be tried in order to live a bit longer. Comfort care is one thing; unrealistic hope for healing is something else.

My waking dream this morning led to the poem above. The dream suggested I need help, a midwife or two, to get through the last pieces of my journey on this earth. I might even need to become a midwife to myself. Not just by reading books, but by seeking out professionals to help me navigate what lies ahead.

I anticipate writing and talking about how this works out for me, and commenting on books I’ve been reading. My major guide will be a palliative care doctor I spoke with today. She won’t replace my other wonderful doctors. Instead, she’ll help me work with medical personnel, family members and others. I’m not willing to stay alive at all costs. So how will I get from here to there?

Today has been an up and down day. Lots of emotion about making the telephone call, and huge relief when the doctor said she would take me on. I know this isn’t a very popular topic. So I’m especially grateful if you’ve read to this point.

With hope, gratitude and a teeny tiny sense of adventure for what lies ahead,

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 July 2019
Photo found at bastyr.edu

Swimming together upriver

Swimming together
Upriver
Against tide and time
Searching for clues
Who am I?
Who are you?

Life dives deep
Takes us to depths
Unanticipated
Time runs short
Patience grows weary

A wise woman once told me
The best pearls
Are discovered
At the bottom
Of the river
Hidden and waiting
Eager to be found
Small gems worthy
Of a lifetime of
Living and dying

Reading and thinking about death has made me acutely aware that each day matters. Not that each day didn’t already matter. Still, I’m now more focused on each day than on each week, month or year. Especially when it comes to life with D. And, indirectly, with our children and their families.

When I look around at friends and family members, I see how many have lost spouses to death. We have time some of them didn’t have. So for right now, life is fiercely about the two of us. It isn’t about what might happen at the end, or how long we might have before death. Instead, it’s about the difference it makes today in our relationship when we read and talk together about death.

I grew up in a family that didn’t talk easily about death. The focus was always on the here and now–especially how to be a good girl and make the family proud. It was also usually about ‘them.’ That would be whoever just died, what she or he died of, how shocked or not shocked we are about this, and when the funeral will be held.

Of course these and other things are important. Yet I’m finding this discipline of reading and talking about death more encouraging than I expected. It isn’t always easy. Still, it’s a relief and an unexpected adventure.

So far we’ve barely scratched the surface. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to find a friend or family member and give it a try.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 June 2019
Double exposure taken accidentally the day we became engaged; Tybee Island Beach, Savannah, Georgia

early morning

A flock of small birds
speeds south
high above tree tops

Early morning sun shivers
behind gray clouds
creeping across the sky

Next to the radiator
my cat huddles
soaking in precious warmth

Sometimes I think it would be easier if I were a bird or clouds or a kept cat. Then again, I don’t think that would be nearly as adventuresome as getting up each day wondering what it will become by nightfall.

I don’t know why I’m the woman I am, why I was born into this skin, or why I had no say about the family or country into which I was born.

I used to fret about this, as though things would be better if I were someone else. Born to different parents, at another time and in another place.

Today I love who I am as one of God’s creatures. Small, yet as precious as the smallest hummingbird making its annual migration from North to South. Flying, not tiptoeing my way into the next season of my life. Held in God’s large hand.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 November 2017
Photo found at pinterest.com
Daily Prompt: Gingerly

gritty monuments

gritty monuments to perseverance emerge from salts of the earth

***

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 July 2017
Image of Bryce Canyon, Utah, found at Pixabay.com
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Grit

my heart skips a beat

my heart skips a beat
poised atop blossoming stems
ready to take flight
anticipation quickens
for this I was created

***

Turning words loose to go where they will
Clear about my identity and to Whom I owe my life
Introverted and grateful for it
Highly sensitive to winds of change
Sailing updrafts and downdrafts
Gliding and plunging
through the inexplicable logic of this universe
known only to my Creator
Taking an uncharted ride to places unknown
Giving wings to words

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 22 March 2017
Photo credit: DAFraser, April 2015
Longwood Meadow Garden, PA
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Acceptance

Kinderdijk | Viking Cruise

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What’s missing from this picture? Wind! Not a breath of it while we were there. Still, the windmills were spectacular.

We sailed all night from Amsterdam, and arrived midmorning at Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was constructed as an outdoor museum, with examples of old windmills. Though they aren’t now used to drain water from low-lying land, they are functional. Citizens apply to live in them, with or without children. It’s considered an honor, and requires daily attention to maintenance and to changing winds to keep super-heavy windmill blades in motion.

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Kinderdijk means “children’s dike.” According to legend, it’s all about a cat, a cradle, and a baby who survived a storm thanks to a dike and a cat’s faithful instincts! The site includes a system of 19 windmills and was built around 1740. This is the largest concentration of windmills in the Netherlands today.

It’s 1421. A humongous storm and flood have subsided. Only one polder in the area isn’t flooded. A polder is a piece of low-lying land reclaimed from the river or sea via pumping the water up, out beyond dikes.

A rescuer goes out, walking along the dike to see what might be salvaged. There floating on the water is a wooden cradle! As it gets closer, he sees a cat in the cradle jumping back and forth, keeping it afloat and dry. Then, when it’s closer to the dike, he sees a baby sleeping in the cradle. A survivor, thanks to kitty’s great balancing act!

This story is celebrated in a folktale, “The Cat and the Cradle.” The cradle below commemorates kitty and baby’s successful cruise.

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So how about a look at one windmill that allows us to get up close and personal?
Like most windmills on this site, it’s a grondzeiler, or  ‘ground sail windmill,’
so called because the sails almost touch the ground as they turn.

 First, a view from the outside, looking up.
Can’t help noticing how huge these things are
and how much human-power it takes to move the sails
when the wind changes direction.
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Now for the interior of this ‘house.’
Don’t touch anything! Keep moving single file,
keep your head down, and be sure your walky-talky is turned on!

First, the main room. This is it, for all practical purposes.
Tiny, cramped and functional,
with touches of charm here and there.

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 I was told the short ‘double’ bed is also the lavatory.
Chamber pot conveniently located at the foot of the bed.
Out of sight.
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On our way out, we pass by some of the internal workings,
and get a welcome glimpse out the back window.

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One more look up from the back of the windmill —

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And a quick look at what it takes to drain the polder today.

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Stay tuned for more!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 February 2017
Photo credit: DAFraser, July 2016, Kinderdijk, The Netherlands

River Scenes | Viking Cruise

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There’s nothing so serene as gliding through calm water in the late afternoon and overnight into the early morning. Especially when you know you’re on time. D took the photo above when we got to the Amsterdam harbor on time in early afternoon. He took the two photos below as we left on time in late afternoon. Getting out of the harbor for a two-week cruise is one thing. Then there are more than 60 locks to navigate before completing the cruise. The Rhine, Main and Danube rivers aren’t very wide, and reservations for lock passage are set in concrete two years out. Be in line on time or be sorry! And no butting in.

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Serenity

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Rounding a corner; campground and village in the distance.

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Sunset, taken from the top deck.
Do you see the small campground in the third photo below?

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Early the next morning —
Notice the  water level and houses with the river dike between.
Also note the walking/biking path along the dike.
Imagine living below the river line
and looking up over the dike from an attic window or rooftop.

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Breakfast time!
Note the rising sun reflected in the river.

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Until we left Amsterdam, I can’t say I felt very serene. Just exhausted, hungry and in need of downtime for body, soul, mind and emotions. The cruise was a priceless gift. I’ve always been drawn to rivers, oceans, ponds, lakes, creeks and waterfalls. It felt like coming home, even though it wasn’t. Hoping you find some serenity this weekend.

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 February 2017
Photo credit: DAFraser, July 2016

Amsterdam Street Scenes 2 | Viking Cruise

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Though I’m not usually an escapist, I feel like escaping to Amsterdam today. D and I were there last July at the front end of a river cruise. We’d just arrived after an overnight flight from Philadelphia. The goal was simple: Stay awake! This means our guide mercilessly kept us moving and on our feet during the afternoon.

So here we are. Note the brilliant blue sky. A perfect backdrop for roof decorations and public art. Unfortunately, I can’t comment on their architectural significance. I’m grateful D took pictures, since I was half asleep on my feet.

The first two show spires on St. Nicholas Basilica;
the third, a gargoyle.

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Next we have two business structures
designed for life along the canal before elevators or motorized lifts.

Just below, note the structure protruding beneath
the top roof line. The holes in the base are to accommodate pulleys.p1140330

Here’s a row of merchant shops on the canal, each with a pulley at the top.
Suppose you want to move a large container
or piece of machinery into the building.
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Does anyone know what the hooks below are for?
I’m guessing they might have something to do with snow.
This seems to be an old house.

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Flags on the Amsterdam Port Building near the harbor.
Note the walkway around the castle-like tower.
A lookout up and down the river?

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A Viking crusader below?
He’s scarcely visible within all those symbols of power.
Definitely designed to impress and commemorate.
Note the intricate brickwork and crowns.

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Finally, a down-on-the-street scene
on a welcome pedestrian walkway with shops and restaurants.
No bike lanes or speeding bikers.
Actually, it leads into the red light district.

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Here’s the building at the end of the pedestrian walkway above.

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McDonald’s burgers on gluten-free bread!

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And last but not least, a beautiful outdoor café across the canal.

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We got back to the cruise ship late, just in time for dinner and about an hour before we sailed from Amsterdam.

More photos later….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 January 2017
Photo credit: DAFraser, July 2016 in Amsterdam

Amsterdam – Street Scenes | Viking Cruise

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Busy! Sensory overload! Unplanned chaos. Tourist magnet. Not for all the right reasons, I’m sorry to say. This post is just a taste of what kept us awake the afternoon we arrived in Amsterdam. Our guide kept us moving, and we did our best to keep up with him.

The top photo captures the reality of modernity (big bold red public buses), and of time-honored tradition (bikes — the subject of my last Amsterdam post). Pedestrians beware!

Here’s what we saw when we left the cruise ship with our trusty guide.
What do you notice?

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I love the guys fishing on the pier
right in the middle of it all.

Our first landmark was a huge, modern transportation center.
I’m glad I didn’t have to figure out which way to go.
Note traffic lanes for various types of transportation
including pedestrians.

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Here we’re in the belly of the building.
Note directional signs.
Sorry you can’t hear the sound effects. Think noise. Lots of it.

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When we came out the other side,
we began our tour near the red light district.
Not a comforting sight.
Note the cathedral tower on the right side of the photo.
We’re looking at the back side of the district.

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The next three photos give a better perspective —
without so many people in the way.
Notice the water level that’s steadily rising,
sagging architecture and uneven walls on many old buildings,
boats ready for nighttime cruises by windows
that showcase women for commercial sex,
and the cathedral tower in the background.

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Here’s one last look at one of the buildings on the canal.
It’s visible in the first photo of the red light district.
You can see why it caught my eye.

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Wednesday of this week, January 11, was
*International Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a day to raise awareness
and honor those who offer alternatives to
women, children and men exploited for commercial sex.
I couldn’t help thinking about these photos.

Here we are, moving on behind our trusty guide.
Do you like my backpack?
Don’t miss the clutter of bikes just to our right
and the bikers ahead of us on the sidewalk.
Being a pedestrian isn’t for sissies!

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We’re headed to an area that draws hoards of tourists and shoppers.
Here’s a taste what’s coming in the next exciting installment.

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To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 January 2017
Photo credit: DAFraser, Amsterdam, July 2016

*To find out more about human trafficking, click here.

Amsterdam – Bikes | Viking Cruise

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Last summer D and I, together with our daughter and son-in-law, enjoyed a two-week cruise down the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. From Amsterdam to Budapest. We came back loaded with photos. I’ll be sharing some from time to time, partly as a cheery way to get through the winter! But also because it was a great adventure. Today’s photos focus on bikes.

We arrived in Amsterdam on an overnight flight from Philadelphia and were taken by bus to the cruise ship.

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After a light breakfast/lunch buffet, a friendly, energetic guide kept us awake by trotting us around the city. Watch out for the bikes (and for cars and buses, of course)! No crossing the street unless the light is green.

Bikes flew by (too fast to photo) and were parked everywhere. Note locks and chains.

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Our guide explained that old bikes are preferable to new bikes. They’re not as likely to be ripped off piece by piece, and are easier to replace. In addition, owners don’t always remember where they left their bikes. Hence a variety of sometimes eccentric add-ons or colors to give your wheels higher visibility.

As you can see, bikers can park virtually anywhere. However, the most impressive place to park is at the huge bike garage near the transportation hub of the city. If you can just remember where you left your bike. 

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To be continued from time to time. Stay tuned!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 January 2017
Photo credit: DAFraser, July 2016 in Amsterdam

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