Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Beauty

Making music from my heart

Last November I gave myself a 75th birthday gift – a piano coach! So here’s an update on my progress so far.

  1. I’m totally motivated to play the piano, though not the way I used to play it.
  2. Though I haven’t yet met with my new piano coach, I’ll soon begin working with him once a month.
  3. I’ve gone through most of my piano collections, have chosen five for starters, and am already practicing regularly from them.
  4. I’ve also been reading The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart, by Madeline Bruser. It’s phenomenal. Just what I need right now.
  5. Not surprisingly, my attitude toward life in general is changing, too. More from the heart, less from my to-do lists.
  6. My happiness/contentment quotient is on the rise.

Below are the five collections I chose for starters. I first worked with them in the 1950s when Mrs. Hanks was my piano teacher.

  • J.S. Bach: Two-Part Inventions, and The Well-Tempered Clavichord (Book 1)
  • Frederic Chopin: Preludes for the Piano (Book IX)
  • Felix Mendelssohn: Songs Without Words
  • Pianorama of the World’s Favorite Dances, compiled & arranged by Denes Agay for Piano

Here are three things I’m working on from The Art of Practicing.

  1. Mistakes (when playing the piano) are part of life. They aren’t the end of the world. Get used to them, and get comfortable with other people hearing you make them. I don’t like this, but I’m learning to live with it.
  2. Speed and agility will (or will not) come in time as my fingers are (or are not) ready. Forcing things, or assuming I can do now what I did 60 years ago) only makes things worse. As I already know. Sigh.
  3. Don’t get in a tizzy about speed and dynamics. Slow down. Ignore dynamics for now. Do what you can from your heart. Love the sound of each note and listen for the music within, not for what seems to be on the page in front of you. Trust your fingers to let you know when they’re ready. Magical!

Finally, I’m learning to accept the hands and flexibility I have now. This means some music I used to play is beyond me. No amount of forcing my fingers will guarantee the return of my youthful fingers. On the other hand, I just might be surprised down the road if I’m willing to take it slowly, without super-expectations.

Thanks for visiting, and Happy Wednesday to each of you!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 January 2019
Image found at pinterest.com

Sand of life’s fine wine

One day follows another
Slips between my fingers —
Sand of life’s fine wine
Served in tiny portions

I want it all right now
To have and to hold —
Shaping every room into
The castle of my choosing

Weariness descends
Seagulls circle beckoning
My eyes close dreaming —
Waves lapping at my toes

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 January 2019
Photo found at pbs.org

Winter Garden Photos from Portland

That lovely tub above is the secret sauce for Sherry and Scott’s backyard garden. It’s a worm hatchery. Not the little bucket at the front, but the great big tub. It’s teeming with hungry worms, scraps of food, paper, and anything else worms love to eat. Worm juice collected in the small bucket gets distributed as needed. Right now this is the only worm hatchery needed for the garden. The other two are now elegant planters for japonica and other outdoor plants.

Just beside the worm house are piles of firewood neatly stacked, ready for winter.

Back in the garden, Sherry and Scott are giving me the grand tour while D takes photos. It was bitter cold that day, with a fierce wind from the northwest. The bat boxes are new since we were last there.

So while we’re at it, here’s another garden-friendly house for insects that love to catch garden pests. It’s an old bird house renovated for insects using pieces of bamboo.

At the far end of the garden, under a row of trees and near the side street there’s a virtual habitat for small animals. Not just for winter cover and spring nests, but for food served up 24/7. It’s long, lovely, and barely visible from the street. Those are old apples, discarded bamboo and other ‘throw-away’ stuff in the photo below.

Beginning with the garden gate below, here are three favorites from around the back yard.

The mini-meadow below is in the back yard. It includes a bird house, plus meadow-plants that produce lots of pollen and seeds–to attract birds, bees and butterflies. Even though it’s winter, they’re still loaded with seeds.

And one more–just because I like it! This little oriental-style lantern sits on the ground just below the back porch.

Thanks again for stopping by. In some ways, it feels as though I’ve already had Christmas. Seeing Sherry and Scott is always a big deal. And yes, absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. So right now I’m channeling all that fondness into thoughts about our next trip to Portland! And visits with other friends and family members to celebrate Christmas and the gift we are to each other.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 December 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser, December 2018

through fading light

She drifts through fading light
Heavy with good old days
And nights of celestial fare
When aging memories signified
Faded minds and shrinking lives
Cemented in the here and now
Reliving ghosts of yesterdays
Remnants of fruit gone sweetly sour
With age and bitter longing

Written on the airplane after reading yet again Emily Dickinson’s poem “These are the days….”

My poem is a comment on aging and the conceit of the young. I’m thinking of the way my own young eyeballs used to roll in their sockets when the “old” folks got going. Relentlessly they recalled and relived their happiest, most longed-for yesterdays. How silly! Don’t they know the past is gone? And then there are all those not-so-longed-for yesterdays.

To my mind these aging relics were out of touch. Couldn’t they see the relentless coming and going of life’s seasons? Yet even then I was already collecting and hoarding my own memories. Preparing for days when I, like all those old folks, revisit the glories and not-so-glorious memories of yesterday that hover just beyond my grasp.

We can’t relive the past, We can, however, go back the way a short Indian summer takes us back to a bit of warmth and beauty before cold winter sets in. We can take that brief, spectacular look into the rear-view mirror of our lives and connect with ourselves yet again. This time with eyes more forgiving and content than we ever dreamed possible.

This week we’re on the West Coast, visiting our daughter and her husband. Being with them reminds me again that life is short and precious. I pray for you and for all of us the courage to stop and look back from time to time.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 December 2018

pennies from heaven

pennies from heaven
lie scattered on moss-crowned stone
beneath curved aspens
dancing in autumn splendor
yesterday’s green burns golden

This morning’s wallpaper. The kind that makes me all weepy in a happy/sad way. Life is short. Every passing season reminds me that our days are limited, and that life is beautiful as well as harsh. I pray for each of us a week filled with gratitude for little things, little people and small acts of kindness that grace our lives each day.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 November 2018
Photo of Aspens in the Rocky Mountain National Park found at wallpaperup.com 

Autumn in the Park | Photos

Grab it before it’s gone! Autumn loveliness. Including my friend Rita’s way-too-lovable dog (above) who has more energy than both of us put together.

D took all photos. Normally he doesn’t bring his camera when we walk through the neighborhood. But this year’s brief autumn flame-out was too much to resist. He took the photos in and around Gladwyne Park, open year-round to the public and to pets on leashes.  D took these between 4 and 5pm.

Here’s my favorite tree to stand beneath in the fall! It always takes my breath away. Especially when the late afternoon sun is hitting the leaves just right. The closeup below shows damaged leaves–heat, insects, too much rain or not enough rain. Still, the colors come through right on time.

The first year we lived here (well over 30 years ago), I remember stopping my car to stare at the fall colors in this park. I hadn’t seen anything so beautiful since we’d lived in New England. The tree below is the largest on the lot. It’s a maple, similar to the one above. And look! Just below you can see Rita’s beautiful little dog walking Rita through the park! He’s that little speck of white fuzz pulling Rita along.

Here we’re coming to the recreational area of the park. You can see picnic tables on the right, and the corner of an athletic field on the left. Beyond the picnic tables there’s a basketball court and playground area.

Finally, several random photos taken as we leave the park and head home.

Even Rita’s little bundle of energy is ready to go home.

Here’s to at least a few more days of autumn glory! Thanks for stopping by.

Elouise

Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 November 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser, 4 November 2018

autumn love letter

autumn love letter
ripples across calm water
reflecting the sky
fiery burnt orange maples
bend and bow before mortals

The last two days we’ve finally seen autumn’s brilliant colors splashed here and there. They won’t last long this year, thanks to a 9-year warming October weather. Still, they’re brilliant, especially when lit by late afternoon/early evening sun.

The Ando Hiroshige print above caught my eye last night. The poem came this morning. It invites me to take a calming break, preferably in nature, after another week of unannounced violence inflicted by human beings on other human beings.

Pause mode may sound like a futile gesture. It isn’t. Especially now.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 November 2018
Ando Hiroshige print found at pinterest.com; From 100 Famous Views of Edo, Autumn, Inside Akiba Shrine, Ukeji c. 1857

elegant feathers

elegant feathers
grace wings beating in tandem
faces resolute
a matched pair of cranes flies south
through autumn’s glowing colors

Yesterday morning this gorgeous photo of migrating Sandhill Cranes came up on my screen saver. Though everything about it caught my eye, I couldn’t stop staring at the Cranes’ faces. Birds of the air on a mission. Lending their beauty for just a few short seconds to the background of the sun and autumn flaming out. Chased by shadows, resolutely flying south guided by an inner compass.

I think I’d like to be a Sandhill Crane when I fly away. Which brings to mind this old song.

Today I’m grateful to be alive, well and kicking now and then. I’m also grateful for the way people and events come together unexpectedly, moving me ahead whether I’m ready or not. Always at the right time.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 October 2018
Photo of Sandhill Cranes in flight, New Mexico; found at ayay.uk.co
Recording of I’ll Fly Away found on YouTube

My Dear Meadow,

How kind of you to welcome me
Yesterday when I arrived unannounced
And uninvited

You looked weather-worn and weary,
Sometimes disheveled and barely able
To stand upright

Leaning one tired limb against another
You seemed to be managing, though clearly not
For long

The air above and around you seemed deserted
Without its usual commotion of butterflies and birds
And beetles

Still,
When I saw you bravely doing your meadow thing
Against all odds, tears came to my eyes

Weathered
And leaning in on yourself you made my heart
Happy to be alive and visiting your aging presence

Tiny blossoms
Winked at me from the sidelines and reached out
To remind me that little things matter

Patches
Of muddy footprints pressed into half-dry mud puddles
Happily told me I wasn’t the first to visit you recently

Clouds
Of fluffy meadow seeds sped by on unruly gusts of wind
Distributing next year’s bumper crop of wild spring beauty

Bird houses
Empty for the season stood sturdy and brave prepared
To weather the coming freeze beneath ice and snow

Just in case
You’re not open the next time I stop by, I wish you
A long winter nap and restoration to your youthful vigor

Which is exactly what I hope for all of us.

With admiration,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 October 2018
Photos take by DAFraser, 17 October 2018, at Longwood Gardens Meadow

autumn wind

sturdy evening breeze
rides first waves of autumn chill
chasing leaves my way
it sends cricket songs soaring
through layers of fading light

I wrote this poem yesterday evening after a late walk around our neighborhood. For now, we seem to have exited cycles of wind and rain from the South, followed by the same from the North and Northwest.  Maybe the fall chill can finally do its work and turn at least some trees and shrubs into flaming beauties.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 October 2018
Modern Art Nouveau painting by Wilhelm Kotarbinski, found at wikiart.com

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