Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Photos

A personal letter

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~~Mom Elouise and Daughter, 1974, Altadena, California on a Sunday morning

Death and dying are on my mind these days. Not just because of Covid-19, but because of how I’m feeling about my own death, plus regular reports of friends dying or facing end of life decisions. I’ve lightly edited this post from February 2017. 

Today was our adult daughter’s last full day visiting us. Tomorrow she flies back to the West Coast. I’m teary, lethargic, achy, sad, and already lonely.

I’m also feeling the certainty of death these days. Nothing in particular. Just the awareness that every time I see our daughter it might be for the last time. So what do I want to say to her before she leaves?

I lay awake a bit last night thinking about this. Whatever I say, I don’t want to pretend I’m taking life for granted, as though neither of us is going to die just yet. I also don’t want to say simply, “I love you.” Even though I will and I do!

Here’s what I want her to know.

  • I want you to know how honored I am to be your mother, and how much I admire you as a woman. You’re a fighter. A brook-no-nonsense human being. An artist in every way, especially as a musician.
  • You’re an intelligent, gifted woman who knows how to engage others, and when to disengage. An astute political observer. A woman who knows how and when to get help. A survivor of trials and tribulations. A wise observer of human nature and of yourself. A faithful ally and friend.
  • I’m grateful you’re in my life. You’re a touchstone. Sensible and funny. Kind and clear. And you’re my daughter! I still don’t understand how you became the woman you are today. I do know it was “through many dangers, toils and snares….”
  • I gave you to God decades ago, knowing I would never have the answers to all the challenges you would meet. Instead, I pray for you regularly, that God’s grace that has kept you so far will lead you home. No matter whether you go first or I do.

One more thing. I feel old age coming on. Not like a flood, but with slow certainty, accompanied by a number of health issues that challenge me. I don’t want to give up. I want to be fully alive, and alert enough to enjoy my family and friends as long as I can.

Not so many years ago I was afraid to let my heart show to my family members. I was afraid to let them know how much I’ll miss them if they die before I die. Better to stay cool and calm than show my feelings. That way maybe the pain of loss won’t be so great. But that’s another topic.

Thanks for reading and listening with your hearts.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 February 2017, reposted 17 May 2021
Photo credit: DAFraser, 1974, Altadena, California

News About Without a Flight Plan

Here’s the latest news on my book of poetry!

Without a Flight Plan is now available on Amazon! However, if you search for the book title, you won’t find it. We’re trying to get that corrected. If it can’t be corrected, so be it.

Monday, April 26 update. The correct title now shows on Lulu, and should soon show up on Amazon and other sellers.

Instead of using the title, search Amazon.com (under Books) for Elouise Renich Fraser. You’ll see the title is given as Telling the Truth 2020. This was the project title, not the book title. However, we’re working to get that sorted out, if possible, through Lulu. In the meantime, I would not recommend trying to purchase it from Lulu.

If, for any reason, you’re not able to purchase the book online, contact me at tellingthetruth1993@gmail.com. I’d be happy to send you the book (with covers and all photos) in a pdf file, at no cost. Though I want the book out there in print, I’m not trying to make money. I getting my current, mostly unfiltered voice out there before it’s too late. Or better, while I can still enjoy it!

Confession: I cried buckets of tears when we finally figured out why we couldn’t find the book online. I’ll probably cry a few more tears. However, the most important thing is that you’re able to read my poems and see some of David’s stunning photos yet again! Yes, the cover shot (chosen by me) is his, too.

Questions? Let me know. And thanks, as always , for visiting and reading.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 April 2021
Cover photo taken by DAFraser at Longwood Gardens

empty wasp nest

swaying in chill breeze
an empty wasp nest hangs
ready for nesting birds

D took this photo in September 2020. So now you must imagine the tall shrub leafless. Also imagine the virtually but not totally wild possibility that birds might make a nest in one of these.

We almost took the wasp nest down this fall. Then I found out Paper Wasps don’t return to their meticulously crafted nests. If this nest remains intact through the winter (it probably won’t), could it become a welcome bird house next Spring? Probably not, but I can dream.

The now empty nest hangs just outside my office window. When I first saw it, I freaked out. At the very least, it was an eyesore. At worst, these diligent wasps might attack me the next time I step onto the front porch!

When I’m out walking with D, we see these nests in tall trees around our neighborhood, always from a distance. Right now I could open my office window and tap this one, now abandoned, with a yard-long ruler.

You may well be wondering….

Is this a diversion from the news of the day? Probably. But I’m enjoying it immensely. Think about it! There may be more hope for the future hanging outside my office window, than there is inside the White House today.

Hoping your Wednesday is relatively peaceful, all things considered.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 November 2020
Photo taken in September 2020 by DAFraser

My week in review – with Smudge

Smudge watching our squirrel-proof birdfeeder

This past week felt like an out of control rollercoaster. Up one moment, down the next. Clearly running out of steam. I thought I had this Covid-19 lifestyle all sorted out.

There’s something diabolical about maintaining a Covid-19 lifestyle while watching Covid-19 cases rise, POTUS tank, voting procedures being weaponized, fires on the West Coast, hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, and general disarray throughout a country that now feels more like fiefdoms. Oh…not to forget the plot to kidnap a female governor and begin an internal uncivil war. This is not a joke.

Nothing is so discouraging as watching POTUS & Crew flounder daily. No, I don’t watch or listen to the news all day. Just once a day is more than enough.

Thankfully, I accomplished several things this week. First, I voted by mail, using a friendly drop box at a nearby library. Done! Second, I had my annual “Wellness Visit” for old folks. The major goal is to identify elderly citizens who need further follow-up or help. I’m happy to say both D and I got a pass for the coming year. We also got flu shots. Mine hurt for several days. D’s didn’t. Life is so unfair.

While talking with my wonderful primary care doctor, she asked about my writing. I told her about my poem, Haunted, including the fact that I sent it off along with a letter to the editor of a local south George weekly newspaper. She requested a copy of the letter and the poem! Why? Because some members of this family practice have begun a voluntary small group meeting to talk about issues including racism. I was stoked and grateful.

As for the photo below, I didn’t see the dead mouse until I finished breakfast. No, Smudge didn’t eat it. The poor little mouse is now somewhere on its way to dust. Nonetheless, I was impressed by the way Smudge chose to announce his overnight triumph!

Little things mean a lot. Especially now.

Praying you’re finding your way through these strange days.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 October 2020
Photos of Smudge taken by ERFraser, late September, and 9 October 2020

Fountains and Music at Longwood Gardens

We’re just back from a day at Longwood Gardens. The first time we’ve been there since October 2019!

D took the movie above. A bird’s-eye view of today’s late morning concert. I’m going through the rest of D’s photos and will post my favorites later this week.

Imagine hot sun, long lines at the entrance (Covid-19 style), gorgeous blue sky, stiff breeze, limited number of visitors, masks required, timed entry by pre-registration only, food services minimal.

Still, it was a gorgeous day. I was elated to discover I could still walk the meadow without collapsing. Until I got home, of course.

Thanks for stopping by!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 September 2020
Longwood Gardens Fountain Show taken by DAFraser, 23 September 2020

Happy Happy Happy! | Longwood Meadow Photos

One of my favorite visits to Longwood Gardens. Enjoy!

This afternoon (August 2017) I’m happy and relieved. D and I took off right after breakfast to drive to Longwood Gardens. The weather was picture perfect.

Why so happy? Because this was my first attempt at (slow!) hiking in the meadow since before I broke my jaw and lost all my energy. I was hesitant about doing it, but decided I’d never know until I tried. Here’s a lightning quick look.

Butterflies, bees and dragonflies were out in droves
on this side of the meadow.
We walked to the top, sat in the shade a bit,
then returned and exited via the forest path.


Next we walked over to the café for a little lunch. I had a mildly spicy vegetarian chili and a cup of fresh fruit. D settled for a turkey sandwich. Then we walked through part of the conservatory, did a short visit to the flower walk, and headed home.

Good health news: Yesterday I saw my Lucy (pacemaker) cardiologist and his wonderful assistant who makes sure Lucy is working properly. She’s doing an outstanding job, I’m happy to say!

I’m eager to try a few more external activities, in addition to daily walks here in our neighborhood. No big social events, just lovely strolls outside that let nature do its work renewing me for whatever comes next.

Cheers!
Elouise 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 August 2017; reposted 20 August 2020
Photo credit: DAFraser, 9 August 2017, Longwood Gardens Meadow

Dear Smudge | Photos of a Prince

Recently Rescued, August 2014

Prince Oliver Smudge the Second, Aug 2014

Dear Smudge,

Sorry if you’re offended, but lots of people haven’t met you yet. I know. We all look better when we can pose for the camera. You’ll survive.

From the beginning we knew you were special. So did you. You out-smart every cat we’ve ever had. When it comes to new tricks and new boundaries to push, you take the cake!

Having taken the cake and eaten it, you’ve also become adept at finding ways to sleep it off. Anywhere and everywhere. I don’t pretend to have documentary proof of every spot you’ve decided belongs to you. But I do have a few.

Fair warning: You may not find these photos very flattering. But right now you’re downstairs sleeping off your wild night, so I’m upstairs taking advantage of this momentary lull. Sorry if this offends you, but….

Because I don’t usually like unposed pictures of me, I feel your pain. But I also find these rather endearing! Someday you will, too. Trust me.

Love and a few friendly nose-bumps,
Queen Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 May 2015, reposted 3 August 2020
Photo credit: DAFraser

Coming down from a high | Day 1 Photos revisited

P1090805 The High Dessert in Oregon, on the way to Mitchell, Oregon – October 2015

It’s time for a teeny tiny (safe!) vacation from Covid-19 precautions. Click on photos to enlarge them. And ENJOY! 🙂

Have you ever seen the high desert in central Oregon? The one many early settlers had to travel across to reach the West Coast? Without maps and only occasional guides?

No? Neither had I until last week. I’d seen wheat ranches in Oregon, sea stacks and beaches on the coast, snow on Mt. Hood, Crater Lake, lush forests and state parks drenched with green mosses, waterfalls, creeks running alongside mountain roads, puffins on the sea stacks, and spectacular sunsets. But until a year ago I hadn’t even heard of what I saw last week.

Ten days ago D and I flew out to Portland, Oregon for a visit with our daughter and her husband. It included a two-day road trip to the high desert to see the Painted Hills. Did you know there are painted hills in the USA? I didn’t. Here’s our first photo–a tiny peek as we approached the Painted Hills entrance on Day 1 of our adventure.

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Painted Hills is one of three units in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. We visited two of the three units—Painted Hills, and Sheep Rock.

The photos below are from our first day at the Painted Hills Unit. We arrived in the late afternoon on a picture-perfect day. Warm weather with a cool steady wind, dry air, and very few visitors.

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P1090828 Can you find the spot where DAFraser zoomed in for this close-up? Also, look for animal trails and tracks. No humans allowed!

Here we’re on our way to a lookout at the top of the trail.
Notice the moon hanging in the brilliant blue sky!

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When we were walking on this path we stopped to listen.
All I heard was silence and the beat of my heart.
“…All nature sings, and ’round me rings
the music of the spheres….”

P1090897 Velvet tones and texture, stripes like a soft woolen blanket; colors of the West

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Polite signs like this kept reminding us to stay on the path!
In this case, turn around and go back the way you came.
Which we did!

End of Day 1, back at our motel:

P1090905 Wild turkeys on the road up to our motel, after chasing unwelcome cat away….

Hoping you find a way to vacation safely today, even if it’s only in your lovely mind and heart!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 October 2015 and 27 June 2020
Photo credit: Elouise (top photo), DAFraser (all the rest), October 2015
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Painted Hills Unit

The human shadow revisited

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                            Mature Dawn Redwood at Longwood Gardens

Five years ago I posted comments on George MacDonald’s sonnet for June 9. Today I rediscovered it, right on time. It helps me think about my actions during this tumultuous uprising through which we must go together, or die. My lightly edited comments from five years ago follow.

June 9

Faith is the human shadow of thy might.
Thou art the one self-perfect life, and we
Who trust thy life, therein join on to thee,
Taking our part in self-creating light.
To trust is to step forward out of the night—
To be—to share in the outgoing Will
That lives and is, because outgoing still.

George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul,
© 1994 Augsburg Fortress Press

What does MacDonald’s opening line mean? “Faith is the human shadow of thy might.”

I can’t help thinking about the grand trees I saw yesterday. It was a hot, humid day begging for shade and breezes. We found it beneath huge trees reaching toward the sky. Could their welcome shade be like faith? An earthly shadow of God’s creative reach?

I imagine myself stepping out of burning sun (MacDonald’s ‘night’), into the shade. Into faith that exists only because of ‘thee’ and ‘thy might.’ I didn’t create the shade. I can’t touch it. I feel it in every part of me. It calms the boiling molecules in my body. It gives me energy to move forward and outward.

Imagine this. Perhaps the Creator’s towering tree-like presence reaches out large limbs that support a leafy umbrella offering respite and relief. I’m not the tree. Yet by standing within the tree’s shadow, I join myself to its life. To my true home. Unlike the tree, I can’t see this with my eyes, yet I know it by faith. Faith that dwells within the shadows of the Creator’s presence.

This means stepping forward “out of the night” is like stepping into the shade of a majestic tree. It’s a way of sharing in the life of the tree, of gaining strength and energy found only within its life, its ‘will,’ its outgoing nature.

The Creator’s will, like the tree, is outgoing. Reaching away from itself to create and recreate all nature including human nature. To become part of the Creator’s life is to ‘join on’ by stepping forward ‘out of the night’ (or out of the burning heat).

Only then do I exist truly and share fully as a human participant in the life of this world with all its upheavals and joys. Not because of my own great ideas, but as a participant in this strangely beautiful and demanding partnership with our Creator.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 June 2015, lightly edited and reposted on 9 June 2020
Photo credit: DAFraser, 9 June 2015, Longwood Gardens

Smudge and the Good Morning News

Our recalcitrant child. No, he is NOT allowed in the sink! Just on it….

You want me to do WHAT?

 

If you insist….

Other good morning news:

Just as I was finishing breakfast, the doorbell rang. D answered. He’d just returned from grocery shopping. A not-so-young man reached out his hand to give D something. It was D’s wallet in a Ziploc bag! It had fallen out of his jacket pocket as he loaded bags of groceries into the car. After he left, I retreated to the kitchen with tears of gratitude in my eyes. It’s one thing to do something unexpected for someone else. It’s another to be on the receiving end. Especially as one of those ‘elderly’ people.

Also this morning, as I was drinking my breakfast smoothie, I signed up to follow Longwood Gardens on Instagram. Today’s theme is wisteria. Glorious lavender wisteria! Get the photos for yourself. Just go to the very bottom of the link above. Or, if you’re already on Instagram, add Longwood Gardens to your account. There are several other ways to get the photos. So take a look at the link above! No excuses!

Yesterday morning I had a scheduled phone conversation with my favorite cardiologist. I enjoyed it so much, I’m considering a request that there be No More In Person Visits! Bottom line: I got cleared for another six months. Nothing new, and my heart and blood pressure are doing well for now, all things considered.

Best of all, the sun is out today! Not as blistering hot as yesterday, but sunny enough for a nice late afternoon walk with D.

Cheers!
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 May 2020
Photos of Smudge taken by ERF, March 2020

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