Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Life

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

remnants transformed

She dwells in days
Layered with moss memories
Accumulated remnants
Transformed into melodies
Of mercy and grace

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 September 2018
Photo taken by DAFraser in September 2016, roof of an old house at Loch an Eilein, Scotland 

Doing it My Way

Well, here I am a week later, learning to focus on thing I know I can enjoy right now. No matter what comes next.

Several days ago I decided to  list many items as I could think of. Not a bucket list of things to do before I die, but a list of things I want to enjoy as much as possible right now.

I won’t bore you with the full list, which is still growing. I do want you to see, however, that I’m in full Do It My Way mode! Sometimes I laugh out loud when I’m reviewing the growing list. And sometimes I tear up.

So here goes–a selection, beginning with the first item that popped into my head.

  1. Cooking for myself, My Way! Possibly the most important item on my list. The thought of handing over my diet to rank amateurs or know-it-alls is unthinkable.
  2. Cleaning out my dresser drawers, closets and a few other hiding places. Why? Because I don’t want ANYBODY to see what’s there, unless it counts as Something I Cannot Do Without.
  3. Dressing myself each day all by myself, in clothes that are comfortable and attractive to me (not necessarily to you).
  4. Taking care of ALL personal hygiene needs. You might try imagining what it’s like to be happy doing these things….
  5. Getting out of bed at night to look at the moon, the planets and the stars
  6. Reading poetry written by others and by me
  7. Writing poetry
  8. Having a sense of where I am and what time it is, and enjoying the rhythms of each day
  9. Feeling connected to items in our home–where they came from and why they’re important to me
  10. Recognizing myself in the mirror
  11. Knowing how to call 911 in an emergency
  12. Remembering and recognizing the faces of my family members and friends

Small things that make up my life. Things I can enjoy, appreciate and take note of every day. Not because disaster might come in a certain shape, but because life itself is precious, and all I can count on is what I have today.

Thanks for reading!

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 31 July 2018
Image found at

startled into flight

startled into flight
the young striped robin eyes me
from a nearby fence

twice it hops away
juvenile instincts awake
it heads for the trees

I’m just back from my morning walk. A beautiful day so far–not so hazy and humid, a little breeze in the air. Well…there was that giant mower roaring across the park hillside. But other than that, and grandparents and parents delivering young children to a summer program at the elementary school, I was blessedly alone. Until I came around the corner of the school and the poor robin, eating breakfast on the school grounds, got spooked.

Still, a great way to begin a summer day. And now I get to write about it. Icing on the cake!


©Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 July 2018
Photo found in the National Audubon Field Guide

spring beauty

morning sun
bathes fir trees
heavy with new cones

bird pairs sing —
their broken records
stuck in a groove

I wrote these two weeks ago early in the morning, then prevailed upon D to take the photo at the top. It’s from our bathroom window, looking at what was once a baby Christmas tree planted along our property boundary. The unusually high number of new cones is visible in every variety of fir tree in and around our yard. Good news for the squirrels! They go crazy when it’s a bumper crop year.

Then there were and still are mating birds all over the place singing their loud songs–sometimes female and male birds call back and forth to each other, other times male birds belligerently announce and defend their territory. No need for an alarm clock these days.

I love this time of year! Hoping you’re enjoying whatever season is happening in your part of the globe.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 May 2018
Photo taken by DAFraser, 27 April 2018


beneath snow
life sleeps

Is there an angel in your life? Someone who was there for you at the very beginning when you were most vulnerable? Someone who gave you a gift you didn’t know you had until very late in life?

When I was born, my father had already been flat on his back for 8 months in a TB sanatorium. He came home weak and alive when I was 10 months old. If you’ve read my earlier posts, you’ll know my ordained clergy father was no angel in my life. For a quick summary, read Why I haven’t buried God.

When I was born, my mother was living with a young couple and their 8-year old daughter. Hence I lived the first 10 months of life surrounded by my mother and friends who thought I was God’s gift to each of them.

When my father came home from the sanatorium, things changed quickly. Dad was never one to take his duty lightly. It didn’t take long to change the atmosphere, beginning with a push and shove about whether Uncle Ed was my father or not. And, of course, who was now in charge of our little family. My mother or my father. I believe my mother lost dearly in that transaction. As did I.

Eight months after my father’s homecoming, we moved from Charlotte, North Carolina to Seattle, Washington. I took with me the seed of that elusive thing called resiliency. They say some children have it and some don’t.

In my case, I believe that seed was planted in me the first 10 months of my life. By my mother, Auntie Wyn and Uncle Ed, and their only child Grace. They loved and played with me, fed, encouraged and doted on me. I was the most beautiful baby in the entire world. And I got to hear my mother playing the piano, nurturing in me another invisible seed of resiliency.

See the lovely photo at the top? All the important people (except me, of course) are there. My parents are already surrounded by my surrogate family: Auntie Wyn was mother’s maid of honor; Uncle Ed (with glasses) gave my mother away; Grace was my mother’s flower girl.

Perhaps the bond between my mother and me is stronger and deeper than I ever realized.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 January 2018
Photo of my parents’ wedding in September 1942, Charlotte, North Carolina

next spring’s gold

next spring’s gold
stuffed in brown trash bags
waits curbside

This morning I was out and about doing stuff that needed to be done. On the way home I couldn’t help noticing all the leaf-bags lined up curbside, waiting for a ride to the dump. Just before entering the dump, there’s a place to deposit dead leaves or other acceptable yard waste. Then, next spring, anyone living in the township can drive over and get a truck or van load of the stuff. Free.

So there’s my haiku for today, along with my short if not spectacular take on it. Plus one other thought. What’s true in nature is also true in our lives. What you or I most want to get rid of might be one of the greatest gifts we’ve ever received. Especially if it looks like dead or rotting leaves.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 December 2017
Photo found at

startled birds

startled birds swerve
surfing updrafts and downdrafts —
thick tree trunks sway

As seen early this morning. Birds and trees dealing with a turbulent, invisible ocean of air.

I’m looking out a window in our heated house, wondering whether I could survive outdoors. It’s hard enough to survive inside.

Life is turbulent. It isn’t easy to surf icy blasts of unexpected change and disorientation. Witness the last few weeks and years, with more to come.

Sometimes I wish I were more like birds riding updrafts and downdrafts, swerving and turning with the wind. Or like huge tree trunks that sway precariously, yet survive virtually unscathed.

Then again, maybe they figured it out ages ago, and have tried for decades to show me how it’s done. I think I’m beginning to catch on, though it still takes my breath away.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 December 2017
Photo found at

shades of dusk

cleansing water sweeps
sands of time with burning gold
dust dropped from heaven


I was just looking through some photos, getting ready to shut down for the night, and this haiku happened. I love dusk, when everything holds its breath, and the sky comes close to earth with no sound but waves washing onto the beach. The photo reminds me of my childhood and teenage years in Savannah, Georgia, and the old wooden pier at the Tybee Island Beach–though this one is a bit more substantial.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 November 2017
Photo found at

Is this a poem?

I’m not sure.
But this is what happened
just as I was wondering
whether I have a life….

Taking the long walk this evening
we turned left at the intersection
and headed downhill around a curve.

The narrow road stretches between houses
silent with stately lawns that lounge
before, around and behind them—
beautifully landscaped and green.

Well-kept trees rustle in cool downdrafts
from the sky overcast and heavy with
misty air and the still-warm remains of this day.

We come up over a slight rise
and see her—a doe standing downhill
frozen at full attention on the road–
tentative and alert as if to inquire
after our intentions or take our measure.

Behind us, a car approaches in the distance.

In a flash the doe bounds into the bushes
turns and looks back across the road–

A second doe leaps across the road,
then turns to look back expectantly.

After a long pause a fawn stumbles noisily
across the road followed by a second fawn
and then silence as the little family dashes
into the trees and shrubs with their
white tails flashing….

I’m pretty sure I have a life.
It’s just that many days it isn’t as planned.
Predictability has flown into the woods
and left me playing life by ear.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 September 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Tentative

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