Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Neighbors

outside my window

outside my window
a song sparrow feasts on buds
dodging lazy rain

this morning he sings
during the dawn song hour
or is it a half

cracking closed eyelids
I calm my breath and feign sleep
during his encore

Yesterday was a full stop. Time out to see what doing “nothing in particular” felt like. This included not listening to news during the day.

Overall, it was wonderful. Especially our longer than usual late afternoon walk in damp, cloudy, beautiful spring weather. The birds were out in droves, singing and calling out their territorial warnings. Near the end, a red-tail hawk flew by, cruising through tree-tops.

When we got back from our walk, the little song sparrow was feasting on tiny flower buds just outside my office window. He and his mate have a nest in a large shrub beside our house. Hearing them sing, and listening to the little ones learning to sing is a gift.

As we left for our walk, our neighbor and one of his young children were out for a walk around the yard. His wife is a medical doctor, on the faculty of one of Philadelphia’s teaching hospitals. She’s been on Covid-19 duty for weeks. I wish for her and her family a day to walk through the neighborhood, doing nothing. And a morning to lie in bed listening to the birds.

The stark contrasts between what we’re all experiencing during this pandemic are troubling. We aren’t in a rosy situation. We’re at the edge of a precipice, wondering who or what will be there when we fall. Will anyone care enough to pick us up? And will there be any birds or music to comfort us?

Which pandemic are you experiencing?


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 April 2020
Photo of Song Sparrow taken by Dan Miller, found at

Unexpected Gifts

I’m just back from a long morning walk. Gorgeous sky, just-right breeze, birds singing, at least 5 nannies or moms out with tots in open-air limousines (strollers), and a far-off sighting of Rita walking her dog. And that was just the beginning.

Most wondrous was a sudden realization. For years I’ve been fearful about turning 78, even though I still have just over two years to go before that happens.

My Mom died in February 1999. She was 78 years old. She had a stroke (brain bleed) that she couldn’t overcome because of her already compromised body. Three months after the stroke, she died peacefully in a wonderful hospice facility.

That same year, my fear of turning 78 was born. Magnified by fear that I might not even make it to 78 years. Never mind that my father was nearly 97 when he died. My problem would be getting to 78 and beyond without dying.

This morning, for the first time, I realized I no longer fear turning 78 or not living long enough to celebrate 78 years. Why not? I’m not sure.

A second unexpected event was seeing one of my neighbors when I was almost home. She had just finished a novel she thought I would love. She was right! I carried it home and will begin reading it today. It’s a murder mystery set in the marshlands of the North Carolina coast. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens.

And finally, a third exciting reality: Our painter is beginning work on our bedroom! After which the carpet will be replaced, and we’ll start putting it all back together again.

More than enough to fill my happiness cup for today, with some left over for tomorrow.

Happy Monday to you!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 September 2019
Photo of North Carolina Marsh found at

weapons of warfare

intention to harm
shot from loaded heart and tongue
backfires brilliantly
exposing raw self-contempt
seething beneath thin skin

What will it take to give us, as a nation, eyes to see beneath the surface of bully tactics?

The best solution I’ve found is to stand before the mirror of my loaded heart and tongue. I’m still learning to acknowledge, comfort and care for deep wounds inflicted upon me by others and by myself. The cost, however, is high. I have to let others in, allowing them to see and love me in my self-contempt, sometimes showing me how it’s done.

Is this lifetime skill of loving ourselves as damaged yet unspeakably valuable persons modeled in our homes, our churches, our schools? Do we know how to see into bullies without being hooked by their bows, arrows and buckshot ways? Do we know how to value them without giving up the duty of holding them accountable for the harm they do us and others? No matter who they are?

Our nation is drowning in an epidemic self-contempt raging across every boundary on our maps. It festers and erupts within national and state politics, and within the homes and streets of our neighborhoods. Directly and indirectly it fuels every shot of every firearm ever invented. How do we address this crisis? Or even begin to acknowledge it as a national emergency that touches each of us, whether we realize it or not.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 November 2017
Image found at

Daily Prompt: Simmer, Neighbors

Evening Prayer

I’m weary this evening, Lord —
All I want is Your smile.

Daylight faded hours ago —
The choir sings to a congregation of one.

I jotted down these words last night while listening to an old hymn, “Abide with me; fast falls the eventide.” The end of a slow day, quiet and unimpressive with the exception of two encounters.

One was with a neighbor when I was out walking. She was standing on her front porch, waiting for a taxi. We talked about her recent illness, her cat, and the woman who died across the street and down the lane just last week.

Later during my walk I saw a couple I’ve known for years. They were out walking, too. About my age, both retired and in good shape with the exception of her fractured ankle and torn ligaments still on the mend months later.

I’ve been focused on prayer lately. Especially since my friend Margie died and left a huge void when it comes to prayer for others. My list grows daily. Not in leaps and bounds, but in small increments. Everyday people with difficult challenges and heartaches.

I haven’t figured out how to pray in a pointed way for the big stuff that hits the news every day. Not that I don’t know what to say. It’s more about not having a personal connection, or being so incensed that I don’t want to pray ‘for’ this or that. I just want to rage against it.

Perhaps things aren’t really worse than they used to be. In some ways, I’ve seen this country in worse shape than we’re in now. Yet in other ways we’re simply reverting to what I’d hoped we left behind. This, too, is a great weariness.

Maybe that’s where I need to begin. With things like the opioid crisis, the result of fraud on multiple levels over many years–perpetrated on people in chronic pain. People just like you and just like me. I wonder where in my neighborhood it’s making its mark today?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 October 2017
Photo found at

Daily Prompt: Fraud

restless energy

restless energy churns
from here to nowhere
searching for answers
without clear questions

Loneliness has been a companion ever since I was a child. Most days it doesn’t come sneaking out of nowhere to grab me. Today was an exception.

Memories from my past haunted me, especially memories about my spiritual formation. Not because of what I did or didn’t do, but because of things done to me, whether knowingly or unknowingly. I felt old, lonely and unprepared for what might be coming in the future. And whether D would be there for me.

We’ve just returned from afternoon tea and conversation with our next-door neighbors. So right now I’ve put aside my memories and my restless search for clarity and reassurance. Instead, I’m going for a walk outside. In the company of trees, grass, birdsong, cicadas, dog-walking neighbors, and the setting sun.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 August 2017
Photo found on

Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Lurch

An unexpected gift | Recipes

At 11:00 am yesterday I left my house and walked two short minutes to my next-door neighbor’s house for a show and tell cooking lesson. A simple Indian dish he concocted of quinoa and garbanzos. He wanted to cook something that would fit my health needs, and thought this might fit the bill.

I sat on a kitchen stool watching as he started from scratch and put it together, checking each ingredient with me as he went along.

There weren’t any mysterious ingredients or fancy maneuvers at the stove. Just water for the rinsed quinoa (2 cups dry), cooked first (about 4 cups water, no salt) and left to sit when done, covered, while he prepared the flavorings in a large frying pan.

Here’s what went into the frying pan:

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil, heated, to which he added
  • Sliced fresh garlic – 6 or 7 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon each, cumin seed and mustard seed
  • Turmeric powder to taste
  • Chili powder to taste
  • About 1 teaspoon ground coriander

When the seed were popping and the spices fragrant, he added prepared caramelized onions and let things simmer. Next he added the drained garbanzos (a large can) and let the mixture simmer in the olive oil. Finally, he added another smaller handful of chopped coriander and one chopped yellow onion. Then it all simmered until the onions had lost their bitterness but not their crunch.

Finally, he added the flavorings and beans in the frying pan to the pot of cooked quinoa and mixed everything together.

Then the moment of truth! He served up small portions for everyone present—his twins and their nanny, and me, of course. Delicious. Nourishing. Easy to make.

This unexpected gift came because the day before he’d seen me out walking, asked about my health, and wanted to do something that would be good for me and easy to make for myself. I brought most of it home and had some for lunch today. Yummy!

For me, this was a big event. Nonetheless, it doesn’t take much to make my day. Just bits and pieces here and there. A note or email from a friend, a smile from the clerk at the grocery store, seeing friends when I’m out walking, a lovely song on the radio, a late afternoon walk with D, evening birdsong or a call from a family member. Small things that let me know I’m not alone, and that I matter.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 June 2017
Photo found at, not the dish described above, but similar

Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Portion

Nation of Strangers

Nation of strangers
Forced choices
No winners
In this cacophony
Of bitter loss
And gleeful victory

Strangers to ourselves
In a never-never land
Indivisibly standing
Beneath competing flags
Disunited yet One
In Strangerhood

I thought I knew you
Until I didn’t
You my neighbor
My sister my brother
My one-time ally
Whose words now chill my heart

Niceness covered a multitude
Of pain and betrayal buried
In fear-filled hearts
Smiles helped us get by
Until we couldn’t any longer
Forced choices

Dare I go public
With fear and grief
Or do I smile and make nice
Nod when I hear
Everything will work out for the best
No matter what the cost

How do I retain integrity
Honor my neighbors
My womanhood
My patriotism
My Christian conscience
My personal and public dignity

I don’t want to be a Stranger
Or find you’ve become a Stranger
Dare I begin now
By looking you in the eye
How do you feel today?
Tell me about it — or not.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 November 2016
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Or

1951 | Memories

Rural Free Delivery
pulls into her yard
Stench in his nostrils

Chunky rotting food
steams swimming in slop

Grunting rutting hogs
Apples of her eye
Food on her table

Money in the bank
Sweet smell of success


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 January 2016

“Cherish is the word I use….”

Cherish image, happy_married_couple

I, Elouise, take you, D….
To love, honor and cherish….

Cherish is the word I use
To complain as in
You don’t have a clue
How to cherish me Read the rest of this entry »

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