Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Beauty

Small gifts of grace

On my way to the garage
A small thin cup-like piece
Of bird shell cracked and broken
Rests on our driveway
Beneath the holly tree
Where resident catbirds set up
temporary nesting quarters

Hours later and bone weary
I turn off the engine and hear
The unmistakable notes of a
Lullaby sweet and calming
Borrowed tunes full of grace
Soft and gentle from a catbird
Keeping watch from a nearby tree

I want to be a catbird when I grow up
Simple beauty singing made-up songs
Of quiet sometimes raucous joy
For everyone and no one in particular
Offering small benedictions to
Broken hearts and weary travelers
On their way from here to there

God bless us every one on this weekend of Sabbath rest and remembrance.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 May 2019
Photo of a SE Pennsylvania Catbird found at reddit.com

Writing about Life and Death

Dear Friends,
I have death on my mind these days. Not without life. Yet it’s different, this discipline of writing about death.

Just over a week ago my Fitbit One fell into the toilet! No kidding. No resuscitation. And no easy replacement. I’ve used a Fitbit for approximately ten years. Never once did it jump into the toilet. Until now.

Alas! My faithful Fitbit One is no longer sold or actively supported by Fitbit. So I’ve moved to a lowly pedometer. It won’t produce the same data and analysis. It will, however, get me off my butt and moving every day.

My latest waking dream, posted with a poem called Portals, was also about big change. In the dream, I’ve left my familiar world and just arrived in a different space. It looks and feels like a transitional space. Think of an international airport only nicer. A place where people of all ages, races, nationalities and ways of life are mingling. I’m a beginner, yet at ease and happy to be there.

Here’s something else that’s happening. I’m playing the piano more often and enjoying it more. In the dream I find a room brimming with children singing, and adults out in the hallway singing along with them. I didn’t want it to stop.

Which reminds me of my visits with Diane. Each time I visited, I cried when it was time to leave. Every visit held moments of beauty, pain, and deep connection. Saying goodbye was painful. I didn’t want to leave because Diane might die before I returned.

That’s similar to the way I feel about playing the piano. It’s a sign that beauty hasn’t vanished from my life. Nor will it. Just as long as I stay ‘close to the bone’ and keep telling the truth. Even if I’m not able to play the piano anymore.

In the meantime, I want to know how all of this will play out in my writing. In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott says this:

The very first thing I tell my new students on the first day of a workshop is that good writing is about telling the truth.

© Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life, p. 3, published by Pantheon Books in 1994

One thing is certain. Each of us will die sooner or later. I want to walk and write toward death truthfully and with intention, open to voices of others, and especially open to my own voice and experiences along the way.

Thanks for listening and visiting!
Elouise 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 May 2019
Photo found at messynessychic.com

Portals

Doors and windows
Hopes and fears
Toy with my mind
Restless in sleep

What lies within
beyond or behind?
Is this a point
Of no return?

I don’t remember
Leaping into this
Semi-other world not
Reality as I know it

Everyday events
Morph into unfamiliar
perspectives and tastes
Soon turned normal

Is this my home away
From home or a new
Portal ushering me from
This life into another?

I haven’t had many dreams in the past several years. However, they’re beginning to re-emerge.

In my latest waking dream I’m in a great, mixed company of people, including children. We’re in a large conference-like venue. I’m surrounded by strangely familiar and unfamiliar bits of reality.

Overall, I like the unfamiliar bits. First, the food — living plants and flowers eaten without plates or utensils. It tastes good, and there’s plenty of it. Second a room filled with children singing. Their music floats into a large corridor where adults of all ages sing along. What could be more uplifting than that?

I’m not afraid, though my level of uncertainty and sense of being a newcomer is sky-high. I don’t feel out of place. Instead, I feel my way along like the beginner I am, surrounded by people I know or knew, and some I don’t know at all.

Is this a party? Will it end? I don’t know. I wake up teary, wishing the dream would just keep spinning out.

That’s where I am as of today. This was a busy week, with more time away from home than usual. Today I’m chilling out, grateful for friends I saw this week, for good doctors, and for plenty of plant food (minus flowers) for my ridiculously cruciferous smoothies.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 May 2019
Photo of Smudge in our attic, taken by me in February 2019

Early Spring at Longwood 2019 | Photos B

We’ve exited the flower walk and are headed toward the lake. The photo above shows the lower end of the lake. Thankfully, it was virtually clear of algae and muck. The pink blossoms in the foreground are azaleas.

D took the following photos on the way to the gazebo area above. We’re walking through a forested area, on a path that slopes down toward the lower end of the lake and gazebo (above). It always feels like I’m walking into an outdoor cathedral when we get to this point. The second photo below shows a cinnamon fern. Finally, pink blossoms on one of the few azalea bushes still in bloom.

Now we’ve reached the gazebo shown at the top, and are looking across the water at a robin sitting on her full nest of hungry peeps!

Our main goal now is to stroll around the lake to the pond by the meadow. From the bridge crossing over into the meadow, this is what we saw–a lesson in how to climb a water-logged tree branch!


Now we’ve crossed the pond bridge, and get our first sighting of the meadow. My favorite place to be at Longwood.

We turn right at the path above, navigate a few mud holes, and see a mama and papa pair of Canadian geese by the pond. Then, in the meadow at the edge of the pond, we spot an orchard oriole! Very exciting, since we usually don’t see them. They migrate here for only four months of the year. Finally, just before leaving the pond area, a brilliant North American goldfinch.

Next we make our way uphill toward the far side of the meadow. D takes photos at will. I just keep walking. That way I don’t have to pose for anything!

Just below, we have a red-wing blackbird — super abundant in the meadow, and noisy. Then two photos of a tree swallow guarding the nest.



Now we’re at the top of the path, at a resting place. The pavilion is covered with this honeysuckle-like vine. Then, turning around, this is a view of the meadow, just to our left.

Finally, a gray catbird keeps an eye on us, followed by D’s one and only sighting of a butterfly.

Thanks again for coming along! Just looking at these photos makes me want to go back tomorrow.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 May 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 6 May 2019 at Longwood Gardens

Early Spring at Longwood 2019 | Photos A


Early this week we visited Longwood Gardens. As you can see above, almost everything is green. This courtyard is just inside the entrance to Longwood. The flower walk is to the left. Straight ahead takes you to the lake and eventually to the meadow. We did it all–in cool and cloudy but not stormy weather. Just right.

Here’s an overview of the flower walk. You can see me down the path with the green backpack. The two women keeping everything tidy are part of Longwood’s huge volunteer network. Also, notice the clouds overhead. Just right for a walkaround!

The four photos below are from the first half of the flower walk. I love the colors and textures, along with the beautiful green of early spring. In the first photo, that’s green grass in the background. I don’t know what the second photo is. Do you? The third photo is foxglove in a mixed bed arrangement. Finally, sweet alyssum along the walkway.

Now we’re at the central fountain in the flower walk.

Instead of going straight ahead to the lake area, we turned right to three small gardens that parallel the flower walk. One is a wisteria garden (photos coming later). The most recently renovated garden, not yet in full bloom, is filled with peonies. I wonder who that woman is?

The central garden (below) is coreopsis heaven right now. The first photo shows the overlook from the flower walk into this central garden. It’s followed by what you see when you look down into the central garden. Breaks in the tall hedge on the far side give access minus stairs. Finally, each garden has a few benches for weary walkers who want to mellow out.


Finally, the wisteria garden. Always a favorite.

After the flower walk and side gardens, we went on toward the lake and meadow. I’ll post some of D’s great photos from that walk as well, but not today.

Happy Friday, everybody! And thanks for coming along.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 May 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 6 May 2019
at Longwood Gardens

You prepare a table before me….

Yesterday D and I visited Longwood Gardens. The weather was beautiful–mild temperatures, a bit of sun, and plenty of clouds without rain.

D took this unlikely photo in the meadow. Oh….  A weed. Maybe; maybe not.

I’m sorry you can’t see how tiny this little ‘wild weed’ is. And I’m fairly certain some of you may not see the little insect lunching on one of the flowers. It looks like a little brown speck on a blossom to the left of the main stem.

I couldn’t help thinking about Psalm 23, and hearing this as a reference to nature’s insects. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” I’m pretty sure this little insect’s enemies would include birds and larger insects looking for lunch. But they could also include human beings. Instead of guarding them and their habitats, it seems we’re intent on destroying them.

After all, they’re tiny. A dime a dozen, Who’s going to miss them? Besides, who needs that mangy old meadow, or that weedy vacant lot anymore? They’re eyesores!

It felt odd to think of this little insect as a link in our food chain and the food chain of the meadow. One of thousands of links in distress. The news reports were full of it last night. We’re quickly ramping up our own global disaster already in the making. I couldn’t help thinking about this little speck of an insect on a common ‘weed.’

Happy Tuesday to each of you! I’m working on more LG pics for a later post.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 May 2019
Photo taken by DAFraser, 6 May 2019, Longwood Gardens Meadow

Saving the best for last

Saving the best for last
All creatures fall silent
Hushed save an occasional
Chirp of sweet birdsong
Spilling final notes
Into air gone quiet

Leaves release one last sigh
And wait for last light
To descend beneath earth’s
Horizon without fanfare
Or outbreaks of odes to joy

No, we didn’t walk in the Blue Ridge Mountains yesterday evening. Just around our neighborhood. Still, the poem reflects the grandeur of both locations. Not only because of green leafy trees and the relative silence of birds and human voices, but because of Spring’s early evening drama.

I always love a walk around our neighborhood. Even so, an evening walk after supper during this part of Spring is often magical. Just like yesterday evening.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 May 2019
Photo of Blue Ridge Mountains taken by Dana Foreman, found at pixels.com

Within my Garden, rides a Bird

Here’s a fun riddle-like poem from Emily Dickinson, followed by my note to Emily. Today is the anniversary of my sister Diane’s birthday. She lived with ALS for ten years before dying in 2006. Diane was 61 years old. One of her greatest joys was watching hummers feast in her back yard garden. A garden created in her mind, and in reality by her family and friends. A magical place where anything could happen.

Within my Garden, rides a Bird
Upon a single Wheel –
Whose spokes a dizzy Music make
As ‘twere a travelling Mill –

He never stops, but slackens
Above the Ripest Rose –
Partakes without alighting
And praises as he goes,

Till every spice is tasted –
And then his Fairy Gig
Reels in remoter atmospheres –
And I rejoin my Dog,

And He and I, perplex us
If positive, ‘twere we –
Or bore the Garden in the Brain
This Curiosity –

But He, the best Logician,
Refers my clumsy eye –
To just vibrating Blossoms!
An Exquisite Reply!

c. 1862

Emily Dickinson Poems, Edited by Brenda Hillman
Shambhala Pocket Classics, Shambhala 1995

Dearest Emily,

What a fun riddle! Of course the answer is obvious, at least to your Dog. What isn’t so obvious is how your nimble mind creates miniature stage productions from fleeting, everyday realities.

I don’t remember one single occasion when a tiny hummer elicited in my mind’s eye a complete and detailed account of what was going on before my wide-open eyes—all in the space of 5 seconds max.

I see a gorgeous hummingbird. You see an entire stage production played out impromptu on the canvases of your Garden and your fertile imagination.

Actually, spectacular is too weak for whatever is happening in your imagination. And then there’s your super-observant Dog who figures it all out!

I fear we’re losing our capacity to see things with lively imagination. Not just in the natural world, but on the streets of our towns and cities. And in each other.

What might happen if we could be inquisitive young children again? Or get caught up in the wonder of other human beings, or the keen observational skills of our pets?

Just a note to let you know how much I enjoyed your poem. Happy Wednesday to you from me, your erratic pen pal and sometime follower.

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 April 2019
Hummingbird and Roses artwork found at pinterest.com

Thinking about death

A stranger to myself
Thoughts of this and that
Invade my mind —
One insight after another
Offering a panacea
to this earthly body
Plodding on despite
Resurrection of hope
And flashes of insight about
Who I am and why this
Right now instead of that

Yet like a sick rollercoaster
Moments of brilliance
Collide with weary batteries
Unable to keep up with
This ever more distant
Dream called normalcy
That sputters weak as
Watered-down tea in
Tasteless cups of vintage wine
Gone sour hidden in
Abandoned corners now
Littered with the debris
Of forgotten loves and
Laundry not hung out to dry

I’m dying
One breath at a time
Aided by living
One breath at a time
Do I understand this?
Somewhat
Do I like this?
No
Do I accept this?
Sometimes

And there’s this as well –
The daily rescue of my entire being
From the despair of not knowing
Whose or why I am in this world
And why the beauty of staying battles daily
With the beautiful lure of leaving

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 April 2019
Image found at bestwallpapers.in

Sunday afternoon walk and my heart

Spring air hangs breathless and damp
Broken by chirping bird songs
And children’s muffled voices
Clouds roll in silent and gray
Saturated with sprinkles
Gathering for a shower

The gathering shower turned into a ferocious thunder and lightning storm–over 500 lightning strikes last night in Philly! I slept through every moment of it. Astonishing. Today the storm is over the Atlantic, and blustery wind has moved in. Temperatures drop by the hour.

Nonetheless, beautiful green leaves, colorful flowering trees and shrubs, and small wildflowers are taking over! No turning back the clock.

During the last month I rearranged my daily routines to support what my heart wants and needs. Sometimes it’s as simple as postponing grocery shopping. Other times, it’s not so easy. Like staying home from church two of the last four Sundays after waking up with an unsteady heartbeat and the weakness that comes with it.

On the other hand, during the same time frame I visited with two of my woman friends, talked with at least two others on the phone, had email correspondence with a few others, enjoyed tea and conversation with our next-door neighbors, walked regularly with D, talked with our son and daughter via phone, and played with Smudge.

I’ve also posted from time to time, enjoyed hearing from some of you, and saw others peeking out from your gravatars!

So here’s to a thoughtful Holy Week, listening to all nature sing on and off-key, and staying in touch with ourselves and with the Great Shepherd of the sheep. Much we need Thy tender care.

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 April 2019
Photo of Center City, Philadelphia; taken by Bill Cannon; found at fineartamerica.com
Photo of Smudge playing hide and seek, taken by me!

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