Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Photos

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

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

Small gifts

Small gifts grace my eyes
Bursting with life and color
They command the scene
Announcing their calm presence
in the garden of my life

It’s difficult to think of my life as a garden. But that’s just what it is, isn’t it? A small patch of earth populated by new growth, the occasional stunning blossom, weeds, trampling of feet, the stench of manure, and all the rest that goes into the pot.

It seems nature, aided and abetted by a Master Gardener, combines the good, the bad and the ugly within one spectacular display. Seen from afar the garden glimmers almost like a desert mirage.

The photos above are from Chanticleer Garden. It’s a magical place. Even so, weather happens. People happen. Bird poop, poison ivy, weeds, and predatory mosquitoes happen. It takes a team of gardeners to keep up with pests, damage and overgrowth on the ground.

As for my life, I’m at peace with my past. Still, I can’t dispense with a team of gardeners, much less the Master Gardener. There’s work yet to be done beyond my limited eyesight and capacities.

Above all else, I want to keep the ability to see and appreciate small gifts sent via nature. Gifts that arrive unannounced, just when I need them. Like the photos in this post.

Happy Monday!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 October 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser, July 2017, at Chanticleer Garden.

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 

wild random beauty

wild random beauty
explodes through summer bounty
brilliant remnants flash
against tangled undergrowth
painting the old canvas red

That’s how I’m imagining my life today. A mess of tangled undergrowth, already beautiful in its own lively way, surprised from time to time by wild random beauty exploding from nowhere.

D took this photo at Chanticleer Gardens in late summer 2016. It invites me to consider my life today, and what might yet be waiting around the next corner. I feel like a child; I want to know how the story ends before it gets there. Not because of death, but because of all the good stuff that’s hiding, waiting along the way to surprise me with brilliant red.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 20 September 2018
Photo taken by DAFraser, Chanticleer Gardens, summer 2016

Loch an Eilein, Scotland | Photos

This week I enjoyed looking back through photos D took on our 50th wedding anniversary trip to Scotland three years ago. If I had to pick one place I’d love to revisit, it would be Loch an Eilein. It’s got everything–mystery, 15th century small castle ruins on an island, and a gorgeous 4.5 mile hiking trail around the lake.

The proud male duck at the top is guarding his mate who’s hidden in the marsh grass, sitting on at least one egg.

For perspective, here’s an overview of the lake, with that mysterious island in the distance. Can you see the bit of stone emerging from the trees? The hiking path goes right around the perimeter, offering several views of the island and castle.

So here we go…one foot after another. Loaded with water and snacks. Sometimes the path was smooth. Sometimes it wasn’t. Good hiking shoes required. We walked through stands of towering pines and meadow-like blankets of heather and thistles.

Here’s the best view we had of the castle ruins. Make up your own mysterious, romantic story….

From this point, we walked around the top of the lake and followed the path on the opposite side of the island. The path so far had been friendly for wheelchairs or walkers, if a bit bumpy. Beyond this point we went through several rough, rocky patches along with a few uphill climbs. Still, it was beautiful, and gave us one more good look at the castle ruins.


Finally, after walking for what seemed an eternity, we came to the end of the hike. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Well, most of it anyway….

Happy Friday! Here’s to a weekend of dreams come true and the creative rewriting of our worst nightmares.

Thanks to D for all these photos, and thanks to you for visiting the gallery!

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 September 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser, September 2015 in Scotland

untamed tendrils

untamed tendrils
reach for late summer sun
cool and composed
roots sink into damp ground
saturated with life

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 August 2018
Photo taken by DAFraser, Sept 2016, Chanticleer Gardens in Wayne, Pennsylvania

Images I can’t get out of my mind

It’s July 4th. Our nation’s great big birthday party day. Yet as much as there is to love about our nation, right now there’s way too much of the other stuff happening. Whatever happened to the American dream?

On 2 July 2018, The New York Times featured an article by Laura M. Holson about Tom Kiefer and his collection of photographs, “El Sueño Americano” (The American Dream). Now retired, Mr. Kiefer worked as a janitor at a border crossing between Mexico and the USA. Holson writes,

There, he collected tens of thousands of items that were confiscated and thrown in the trash by Border Patrol agents from undocumented migrants crossing the border from Mexico into the United States. He began photographing the items in 2007.

“I couldn’t leave them,” he said.

Below is a small selection from his collection of over 600 photographs. Each photo includes Kiefer’s explanation about why these items were routinely confiscated. On one level, they document the stripping away of life-sustaining items from women, children and men crossing the border. They also say something (what is it?) about our nation’s ongoing obsession about ‘them’ and ‘us.’

You can find scores more at Tom Kiefer’s website. I find his contribution to our current conversation about immigrants seeking asylum invaluable. Worth more than written commentaries or debates about the fine points of the law. If you live in Michigan, over 100 of Mr. Kiefer’s photos will go on exhibit in October at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts.

Each photo includes Kiefer’s brief explanation about why these items were confiscated. The small toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes at the top were considered potentially lethal non-essential personal property, and disposed of during intake. Mr. Kiefer notes that “while in custody, most migrants will not have access to toothpaste and toothbrushes.”

Here are four other examples. The first two were considered personal items and non-essential. In addition, the combs and brushes were considered potentially lethal.

Next we have cans of tuna. Along with other food items confiscated such as beef jerky, granola bars, dehydrated soup and powdered milk, they were considered contraband and disposed of during intake. Mr. Kiefer notes that tuna is an efficient, compact source of protein, and that this particular brand had a pull-top lid.

Next we have heavy-duty gloves used for many purposes. However, given the desert and mountain terrain of the border, plus sometimes below-freezing winter temperatures, they were invaluable. Yet they, too, were considered non-essential personal property and discarded at intake.

Finally, a photo of an item migrants carried in their bandanas. Non-essential personal property. Discarded.

What’s going on here? I don’t know. But I’ll make my comments in another post, and would love to hear from you as well.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 July 2018
Photos found at the New York Times and on Tom Kiefer’s website (see links above)

framed in peace

framed in peace
pond and sculpture composed
wait in silence

empty chair beckons
story rests in closed book

***

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 June 2018
Photo taken by DAFraser in 2001 at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Whose body is it anyway?

Several days ago I posted the poem below. It came to mind this week when I thought about the way women’s bodies are shamed and punished. Sometimes to such an extent that we don’t recognize our bodies anymore as gifts. And many of us haven’t learned to be their vociferous, ferocious and loving advocates.

This body
Like my heart
A house of Your creation
Stands ready to greet the stranger
Whose form and visage
Isn’t as expected
Lost
Dust of the earth
Sorrowful yet not without hope
She stands
Waiting

Who is this stranger who stands waiting? I think I’m the stranger. Alienated from my female body even though I call it ‘my’ body. Part of this is a hangover from childhood and youth. The consequences of being directly and indirectly abused in my female body.

It seems my body keeps trying to get my attention,. It’s tired of hanging around waiting to do my bidding, or carrying me here and there no matter how it feels.

Instead, it wants me to stand up for it and stop forcing it to keep going. Or hoping someone else will save the day, like Prince Charming.

Several evenings ago at the end of an unusually busy day, I stood at the kitchen sink slogging through a pile of dirty dishes. It was late. My feet and back were screaming for mercy.

All I wanted to do was lie down and go to sleep. That, or be rescued by a prince who would gallop into the kitchen and do for me what I refused to do for myself—take care of my weary body.

It struck me as odd if not self-defeating that I wanted help from someone else. There I was, supposedly a grown-up woman with a mind of her own, unable to do what I needed to do. Stop. No matter what happened or didn’t happen to the dirty dishes.

My body works and waits every day, hoping against hope. Have I forgotten how to take the initiative? How to sit down and give it a rest, fuss over it in a kindly way, and thank it for the ways it helps me get through each day?

As a child, it sometimes seemed other people owned my body. They did not. God owns it, and has given me the privilege and responsibility of being in charge of it.

It’s as though God said to me,

Here. Take this body. I created it just for you. It’s the only body you’ll have in this life. Treat it as an ever-present stranger you’ll want to get to know at least a thousand times over. Someday I’ll come knocking at your door, eager to see how you’ve treated it and what you’ve learned from its wisdom.

Women’s bodies are demeaned and pushed beyond their limits every day. Sadly, I can’t put an end to all of it. I can, however, actively love and care for my body. Which strikes me as more than enough. Upstairs attic, here I come! Though Crater Lake would be nice, too.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 June 2018
Photo taken by DAFraser at Crater Lake, Oregon, 2015

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