Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Daily Post

I was just a beginner…

I was just a beginner when it happened. In a supposedly safe place. I had a title and stature within an academic community.

From my childhood I’d experienced worse. Regularly. In ways that raised deep shame and self-blame in me. Bad girl.

But this was different. I was an adult. A colleague among adults who were followers of Jesus Christ.

It happened in a crowded hallway between classes. Without a whisper of warning. Just walking to my next class, in conversation with an adult man.

He wasn’t a stranger and he wasn’t my father. He professed to be a supporter of women’s full humanity, and our right to fair and equal access to theological education as students and as professors.

Perhaps he wasn’t thinking? I could give a thousand questions you might have asked me. None would have erased the sudden chill and shame of feeling an uninvited hand patting me on my butt.

I switched my briefcase to my right hand, moved over slightly and kept walking through the hallway as though nothing had happened. Indeed, it never happened again. I maintained my distance, without giving up my friendly demeanor.

My friend touched my body in a way I wouldn’t dream of touching his. It wasn’t a hand on my arm, but my butt. I believed that any attempt to draw attention to this would have made things worse. I felt trapped.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not my big #MeToo story. I’ve already told that in earlier posts—not just about the Shopkeeper, but about my father’s attempts to subdue me, and my first employer’s determination to humiliate me as a young woman just out of high school.

So why tell it? After all, it happened in the blink of an eye.

I’m telling it because we need to attend to the daily impertinences and seemingly small ways in which women, girls, boys and men who aren’t considered manly are reminded of their place and who has power over them.

I’m also telling it because there are millions of everyday people aching to let someone know what happened or is now happening to them. Are we able and willing to listen from our hearts? Without offering solutions or trying to re-write the stories we hear?

Sometimes silence and listening without judgment are the best gifts we give each other. In fact, to listen well is to follow well. The way I imagine Jesus Christ following us and being there when we’re ready for help.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…. (from Psalm 23)

I’m grateful for the women, men, young people and even children who have listened to my story, and shared with me their own experiences. In some ways, this is the table God has set before me in the presence of my enemies—who are more like I am than I could ever guess.

Praying you have a wonderful Sabbath rest.
Elouise 

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 November 2017
Photo found at theanvilnewsletter.blogspot.com
Daily Prompt:Neophyte

Dancing with Chrysanthemums | Photos

Chrysanthemums have never been my favorite flower. When I was a starry-eyed teenager, getting a chrysanthemum corsage from an admirer was distinctly less impressive than an orchid corsage. Not that I had many opportunities to receive such favors, thanks to the strict No Dancing Rule in my family. Still, I got the occasional corsage for banquets, and orchids were the best!

Orchids are still magical–witness the orchid photo below, taken in Longwood’s ever-blooming orchid house.

Yet my appreciation for chrysanthemums is growing.

Longwood’s annual Chrysanthemum Festival is about more than flowers. It pays homage to Japanese Americans, their homeland, and the way they’ve enrich our lives daily with beauty and grace. The numbers of ‘pilgrims’ to this Festival is substantial, including homegrown and overseas families. I find this humbling, given our history with Japanese Americans during World War II, including the bombing of their country.

Here’s a quick tour, including a very short video about growing and shaping those huge Longwood Chrysanthemum ‘mushrooms.’ Did you know each of them is only one chrysanthemum plant, patiently trained, shaped and transported into the Conservatory?

First, some favorite photos from the main Conservatory. The huge Japanese lanterns rolling on the grass have tiny lights inside, not visible during the daytime–I’m sad to say!

As promised above, here’s what it takes to create just one of those stunning Thousand Bloom Chrysanthemum plants. Longwood Gardens made the video in 2009. It’s only 3 and a half minutes long.

Finally, here are a few more Japanese lantern photos. First, from the silver, gray and blue cactus garden. These lanterns also have tiny lights inside. You might be able to spot a few if you look carefully at shaded lanterns in the second photo.

And finally, a few spectacular shots of the passageway that runs beside this garden.

Thanks so much for taking time to stop by today!

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 November 2017
Photos taken by DAFraser, 28 October 2017, Longwood Gardens Chrysanthemum Festival
Daily Prompt: Dancing

Monday Morning Sunshine

We had a cool front come through during the night, with blessed relief from 100% humidity day and night, cool breezes, and the slightest hint of sun behind those clouds which will, of course, dissipate in their own good time.

Still, I want some Monday morning sunshine. So here it is, beginning at the top with one of my favorite taken-by-me photos of D, my loyal partner, at Longwood Gardens on the day of our 52nd wedding anniversary. Isn’t he gorgeous? So is that sunshine, I might add.

Coming in a close second is the second main male in my life right now–Prince Oliver Smudge the Second. He’s perched on one of his thrones, alert as ever, loyally watching over my first main male to make sure he doesn’t fall asleep in front of the computer. Also taken by me, this time with my mini IPad (instead of D’s fancy camera).

Next we have one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes strips about the infamous Divide and Conquer Strategy. I debated using it for my last post, but decided it was too lighthearted for the subject matter. Still, it makes a great point, and the little stab at the end might help you keep your sanity and upbeat outlook at least alive, if not thriving.


Finally, a rousing rendition from Norman Blake in true Southern country music style, from the soundtrack of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Sing along and don’t be bashful. It’s great fun!

Cheers!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 October 2017
Photos taken by ERFraser, 11 Sept 2017 and October 2017
Cartoon found at
bloggingblue.com
Daily Prompt: Loyal

No, I will not give up!

The mood in our country is ever more divisive, thanks to the old divide and conquer strategy. It seems Mr. Trump is a mastermind at this. Not just at getting us to quarrel with each other, but at maintaining his position as the Man in Charge, trickling glory down or withholding it, at his time and in his way.

My readings in the Psalms this past week were encouraging, yet troubling. They were all about what happens to the wicked. In particular, those whose god has become great wealth, who take delight in the adulation of adoring publics, and who seem to believe God is made in their image and thus on their side.

Mr. Trump, already a follower and lover of great wealth, displays leadership traits that are confusing at best, willfully destructive at worst.

Most troubling is his habit of changing the subject strategically so that it’s not about him, but about someone else or somewhere else or the flag or patriotism or immigrants. It seems his happy moments are fleeting. Never enough to fill the deep hole in his heart.

I serve but one God. Is it possible to do this without confessing my personal failings? Of course not. Nonetheless, I don’t buy the argument that everyone has their weak spots or failings. As though we should give others a free pass, particularly our leaders.

Hebrew and Christian Scriptures have somber warnings to religious and political leaders about the way they govern. This includes strategies such as pitting the strong against the weak, rich against poor, social class against social class, women against men, immigrants against residents. The possibilities are endless.

The strategy of muddying and distorting reality keeps us riled up and at each other’s throats. So distracted that we cannot effectively call out leaders for failure to lead on behalf of everyone. We’re too busy jumping on the us-versus-them bandwagon.

I don’t know how to engage mammoth power. Or perhaps I don’t appreciate the power I do have. Which would be my one brief life, a pen and my prayers.

This feels like less than two small loaves and a small fish. Barely enough for me; not nearly enough for those who gather each day wanting to hear truth and hope. Especially in times of political, social and geographic upheaval.

Being a faithful Christian citizen has rarely felt so heavy. The bottom line is simple: Whom do I serve? And am I ready to do this at any cost? My spirit is willing; my flesh is weak. Which is why I depend on others like you, regardless of your political or religious persuasion.

As a follower of Jesus, I’m in this for the long haul. Today I’m grateful for the company of others learning to live each day without giving up the fight for justice, or hope for today and tomorrow.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 October 2017
Image found at flicker.com/photos/nicola
Daily Prompt: Succumb

On being married to D

I like to think I have no illusions about myself. Nonetheless, this past week proved otherwise. It was all about cleanliness in the kitchen D and I share every day.

I’m an expert from way back when it comes to cleanliness. After all, I was Mother’s Big Helper, her #1 Daughter trained to know and do everything the right way.

Not only do I know how to do cleanliness, I can tell you horror stories about what will happen if you ignore my gentle ‘reminders.’ I can also show you exactly how to do tasks in a way that maximizes efficiency and cleanliness.

So this past week D failed to live up to my standards, and I failed as well. With flying colors.

In the still-hot aftermath, I hit my journal, trying to vent and turn a corner in what felt like anguish and despair. I found myself wondering, not for the first time, why I married this man more than 51 years ago.

The venting wasn’t productive. So I began thinking about the kind of man I married and the kind of woman I am. And perhaps, just why some things are so difficult for us.

D was raised by his mother. She and his father divorced when D was about 3 ½ years old. His father lived far away and wasn’t present in D’s everyday life. The relationship between his parents was never easy or without anger. At home with a single mom and three children, the kitchen was clean; it was not, however, a classroom for doing things the right way.

I grew up with parents who not only stayed together, but never once had open conflict about anything. Furthermore, though I had a father present in the house, the house was my mother’s domain. She was responsible for keeping it clean, neat and orderly. He was not.

The kitchen, in particular, was a hub of activity with four daughters to feed and train as good housekeepers. The emphasis wasn’t on cooking; it was on cleanliness and doing things the right way.

Despite being a polio survivor with significant health issues, my mother was an expert housekeeper. She made sure her #1 Daughter was trained as expertly as possible.

Why? Because she didn’t want me to grow up as she did, without anyone to show her how to be a mother, much less a housekeeper. When my mother was 8, my grandmother left with another man and filed for divorce.

My mother routinely redid my work in her kitchen. I wasn’t as efficient or neat as she thought I should be. No matter what I did, it seemed something was not quite right. I felt frustrated and humiliated.

As I got older, I felt angry. So when I became a wife and mother, I made sure to soften my mother’s approach. Yet I still came along after D, insisting that my way was the better way. Especially in the kitchen.

Just realizing this softened my heart and got me ready for yet another difficult conversation with D. Not about my mother, but about the two of us and how to manage differences that trigger conflict between us.

It’s never easy. Yet going back to my childhood helped unlock some unfinished business that still spills over into our marriage.

Today I’m grateful I can make choices based on our happiness instead of my mother or my father’s expectations. Or my own.

Thanks for listening!
Elouise 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 June 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Illusion

punctured from within

The photo above haunts me. Every time I look at it, I imagine us in the context of nature’s beautiful yet unpredictable fury. This is Indonesia’s Mt. Bromo. Tourists and local visitors gather around the Sea of Sand near the heart of a volcano. Steam makes its way through the upper crust and into the atmosphere.

The volcano itself is not shown in this photo. The volcano is live, though not with regular predictability. Still, its strange power draws people to it.

I can’t help feeling I’m an onlooker here in the USA to an unpredictable volcano that’s eroding our nation and our planet, with spill-over to other nations. Sometimes via spectacular eruptions. More often via mesmerizing, self-destructive behavior.

We’re being sold to the highest bidder, and our planet is grieving. As am I.

Seeping wounds drip into the atmosphere. Contempt for us and for the environment spills out. Are they signs of a future meltdown?

The sad outcomes of inhumane legislation and environmental degradation cannot be undone. The fabric of society and this globe are being punctured from within and without.

I won’t sit idly by, watching the growing head of steam. Nor will I deny its destructive power. Especially the power to destroy our planet and us in return for ill-gotten gains.

No solutions here. Just a commitment not to look the other way or sit idly by waiting for the next eruption.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 June 2017
Photo found at Pixabay.com
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Puncture

We live on the verge

We live on the verge
the daily edge
the cutting edge
the bleeding edge
between breakdown
and breakthrough

Born with limited opportunities
we leap
or stumble
or fly
or die of indecision

I opt to sail beyond the verge
against the odds
into uncharted territory
where no woman in her ‘right’ mind
has ever gone before

With gratitude to Star Trek
and all other mortal friends and strangers
who helped make this moment possible,

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 April 2017
Photo found at pixabay.com

Response to Daily Prompt: Cusp

between worlds

dreams-angela-bacon-kidwell

drifting away
her mind hovers
between worlds
a spectator unwilling
she rests on her bed
captive to images
of a dying day

a silent cacophony of
bizarre semi-reality
emerges into
semi-conscious
scenarios never
seen again

precursors of sleep
they swarm
in disarray
bits and pieces
of the day
descending
into unconscious
oblivion

***

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 March 2017
Photo found at raisa-b-h.blogspot.com

Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Swarm

Simple food simply cooked

I’m not a foody, but I love down-to-earth delicious simple prep dishes! It’s just past 10:30 am, and my trusty old slow cooker is already hard at work on one of my favorites. It should be ready to eat by supper time.

Why a simple recipe today?

I’ve been thinking about simple actions I might take as a citizen of these United States. I want to do my bit in these next difficult years. Simple food prep popped into my mind because it leaves me free to take other simple actions.

Makes sense to me! Besides, it’s ‘Simply Great’ isn’t it?

So here it is, my simple recipe for today’s simple supper and the next 5-6 days, too.

Winter-Time Vegetables Chili – slow cooker, 4 to 5 quart round works great

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1-4 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 15-ounce cans of diced low-sodium tomatoes
  • 1 4-ounce can of chopped mild green chilies
  • ½ tsp salt (optional – I don’t add any)
  • 1 cup fat-free, low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 16-ounce cans of low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed

Optional additions after cooking: balsamic vinegar, fat-free sour cream/plain Greek yogurt to put on the top

Directions

  1. In slow cooker, layer each ingredient in the order given—Don’t stir!
  2. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Stir before serving.
  4. Top individual servings with sour cream/Greek yogurt or nothing at all.

Comments

  • Don’t worry if it looks thin at first; after you stir it up it thickens.
  • Store leftovers in refrigerator. I don’t know whether it freezes well.
  • Try serving it with a side of steamed greens. Yum!
  • If you’re feeling simply brave and grateful, try giving some away.

Here’s to a simple day made up of simple things that mean a lot to you or someone else!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 January 2017
Recipe submitted by Maricarol Magil, Freehold, New Jersey, USA
Found in 
Fix-It and Forget it Lightly: Healthy, Low-Fat Recipes for Your Slow Cooker, Good Books 2004

Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Simple

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