Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Smudge

A very good day

This morning’s leftovers
Drop like melting slushies
From weary evergreen bows

Lumpy mounds of snow
Coat driveways and porches
With cold mushy porridge

Like a weary movie score
The sound of water draining
Through gutters drones on and on

A waking dream haunts me
With images of three friends
Just beyond my grasp

I reach for my airplane ticket
Only to discover
I left it in my guest room

My heart is made happy
By half a cold banana
Now somewhere in my gut

This will be a very good day indeed.

It doesn’t take much to make me happy these days. I think it’s about being alive, awake, functioning fairly well, and wondering what this day will bring. I took the photo at the top early this morning.

The cushion cover on the left was made by women refugees living in Nairobi. The cushion behind Smudge was made by a dear friend now gone from this life for many years. The round brown cushions are from D’s aunt who died several years ago. The cord peeking out on the left belongs to my blood pressure monitor.

As you can see, Smudge has taken over my reading sofa and cushions.  But that’s OK, since I still live in the Plaza! Thanks to D for sending this cartoon to remind me how privileged and Eloise-like he seems to think I am. The nerve…..

In case you can’t make out what Eloise is saying:

I am Eloise
I am forty-six
I still live at the Plaza
I don’t give a damn who owns it

I hope your day is filled with strange and unusual sightings that tickle your fancy and/or make you warmly nostalgic.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 February 2019
Photo of Smudge taken by ERF, 21 February 2019; old New Yorker cartoon compliments of DAFraser

a day unlike any other

It’s bitter cold outside my window
Venus rises in the Southeast
Smudge nuzzles my warm pajamas
The radiator pumps heat

A day unlike any other
Quiet and laid back

No busy imperious horns
Honking impatiently –
No braking trash trucks
Stopping at every other driveway
Tossing garbage into bins and driveways –
No yellow school buses halting traffic
To pick up almost-late scholars –
No buzz of chain saws
Or construction vehicles beeping
Their way backward down one-way lanes
Surrounded by shouts of men
Wearing noise-cancelling earpieces –
No screaming fire trucks, police cars
Or ambulances racing downhill
Toward the latest health emergency
Or freeway accident –
No droning news helicopters
Hungry to document rush-hour madness
At its worst

Only the chill quiet
Of a lazy Saturday morning

The sun is out, the temperature is down and the wind is up. A good day for indoor activities of the not-too-stressful sort. Such as reading, writing, eating, exercising when and where I choose, and maybe a teeny tiny bit of housecleaning. Just enough to feel happy, content and alive.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 February 2019
Photo of Venus and Jupiter taken by Dennis Schoenfelder in Alamosa, Colorado on 18 Jan 2019; found at

Farewell to Portland | Photos

Alas! All good things….and all that. Except for the photos, thanks to D. The holly tree above is from our daughter and her husband’s yard. We got home about midnight Saturday, and I’ve been jet-lagging until today. The weather was colder than toot, with pretty stiff wind most days.

No wandering in the arboretum, hikes through the forest, visits to the rose garden or day-trips into the Oregon wilderness. Instead, we relaxed, ate good food, listened to great music, and drank juice concoctions featuring fresh-picked kale and other healthy stuff like fresh ginger and apples. Below is a photo of kale that hasn’t stopped giving.

Just outside the kitchen sink window we could see a couple of bird feeders, including a hummingbird feeder. Here’s a tiny female Anna’s Hummingbird that hangs around every day, fending off all hummingbird intruders.

Our daughter and her husband have a screen-printing business, Olympic Screen Printing. I love this photo of some of her husband’s paint cans. A large, bright, cheery set of colors with which he works his magic. Click here to see examples of t-shirts they’ve printed over the years.

Below is a small pond designed and built by our son-in-law several years ago. It’s now fully functional, with its own ecosystem of water plants and water-loving insects and animals. In the second photo note the thin layer of ice on part of the surface. Another of D’s special impressionist water photos!

You might be wondering about the bamboo? They planted it several years ago when a construction crew came in and began putting up big-box housing with tiny back yards. Imagine going from a beautiful field around one house, to rows and rows of look-alike houses. The bamboo is now beginning to do its job–providing privacy as well as beauty.

Finally, here’s a look at one of their dozens of Japonica shrubs. Also planted a while back, up against the house and along some of the fencing.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to see so many of their plans and hard work now paying off. And yes, it was very hard to leave and come back home.

Smudge, of course, wasn’t exactly thrilled to see us come barging into the house in the middle of the night. After several days of scolding us for abandoning him, he seems to have calmed down. Actually, our son looked in on him faithfully and sent photos to reassure us that all was well.


©Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 December 2018
Portland photos taken by DAFraser, December 2018; Photos of Smudge taken by SEFraser, December 2018

humid air invades

humid air invades
saturated lungs complain
a cardinal sings

suckers spring from trees
guzzling precious ground water
squirrels play hide and seek

cacophony reigns
beneath sun-drenched sky of blue
my cat waits at home

The agony and glory of this morning’s super-heated weather. Yes, we went for a walk and sweat a lot. The heat was as close to unbearable as I’ve felt all summer. I didn’t step out as lively or snappy as usual. All the same, I did it and it’s done for today!

Yesterday’s highlight was a trip to see Lucy Pacemaker’s doctor, my electro-physiologist. I got a friendly pass until my next checkup. They always take readings from my pacemaker, which relentlessly records every beat and every non-beat, for the record. Including what time and how long irregularities last. Ugh.

As usual, I’m open about more medication. Nonetheless, I’m not a fan of prescription drugs, and have had good success so far with other approaches. However, I’m now at that stage where ruling in one thing could mean ruling out something else.

I also know I must take full responsibility for my decisions. Nothing new there. Nonetheless, the possibility of this or that happening if I do or don’t take this or that pill is becoming more complicated than before.

So I’m back to reviewing and updating my top values for this period of my life. Which, of course, is no guarantee that nothing bad will happen. Hopefully it will clarify what I value most right now, so I can make informed decisions about my medical care.

Hoping your midweek is just the way you’d like it. Or at least a close second!


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 August 2018
Photo found at

A little poem and some gorgeous photos

Sometimes I don’t know what to say. I just know there’s something inside that wants out. So here are bits and pieces that come to mind.

First, a little poem. Yesterday I went to see one of my doctors. As I was driving away, I saw an older couple making their way along the sidewalk across the street. I wrote this when I got home.

fragile and disheveled
the woman inches along
behind her walker —
sunlit hair gleams in the light
shining from her partner’s eyes

I hope I’m so happy when I’m that old. As for right now, I’m grateful for D who has done a lot of heavy lifting during the last three years. Often accompanied by one of his gorgeous smiles that begins in his eyes.

Second, one of D’s favorite things to do is record flowering shrubs around our yard. Here are some of his latest captures. Those are periwinkles at the top. Happily invasive, I wish they would completely over-run the ivy along our driveway.

blossoms outside my office window, Azalias below

Lilac blossoms below

and Spring Christmas cactus blossoms in our kitchen

Third, a photo I took this morning with my Ipad after I got back from an early morning walk. D had just finished mowing the yard, and the peonies were irresistible.

Finally, one more photo I took in the house. Smudge is sitting in his new (now old) favorite space, watching us clean things up in the kitchen. You can see his battered red birdie toys on the floor.

Gratitude. That’s what’s on my mind today. I’m grateful I’m alive and connected to so many people I never thought I’d meet in just this way. Blogging is part of what’s kept me going for the last four years. I could, I suppose, do it without you. But it wouldn’t be nearly so rewarding or life-changing for me.

Hoping you’re having a great weekend and Sabbath rest.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 May 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser and ERFraser, Spring 2018

Attic Update with Photos

Whew! I can hardly believe we’re getting there. Our daughter and her husband arrive Saturday night, and will be our first guests in the new attic bedroom/sitting area! Except for Smudge and I. We’ve already stolen a little snooze or two on the new mattress.

The photo at the top and the following photo are painful reminders of What It Was Back When….after more than 30 years of living in this old house. The top photo looks Northeast, the one below Southwest. D took the top photo before we began clearing stuff out; below we’re well over halfway there, believe it or not.

And here’s what the contractors had to work with–almost ready for them to begin.

Below you’ll see the Northeast look, with everything but the floor finished. I loved the old checkerboard linoleum, though it was well past its prime. In these photos we still have carpet to go, plus furniture. The trim is white; the ceiling and walls are very light green with blue tint that complements the view from the attic windows–tree tops and blue sky. The third photo looks toward our back yard–Southwest. You can see the handrail we had added to the attic stairway. There were already skylights over the stairs and on the East side of the attic roof.

So here’s where we are today–still getting things put together and in place. Carpet all laid, with the painter due to return and put one more coat on the attic stairwell. The carpet is gray–a short, tight plush weave that’s supposed to resist cat claws.

Last but not least, I took some photos with my IPad to document the contributions of the two males most present in my life these days.

I’m surprised at how wonderful it feels to have this task well along the way to completion. I’ve dreaded the day when we would either die and leave the mess to our family members to clean up, or when we would finally grab the bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground. Actually, I have D to thank for wrestling it to the ground–though I’ll take my share of the bows, as well.

The rest of this week we’ll be getting things back to a bit of sanity downstairs and upstairs. I’ll post as I’m able, and take attic snoozes with Smudge whenever the urge hits me.

Thanks for stopping by today!

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 April 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser and ERFraser

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!


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

Knackered Friday?

Are you knackered? This great word comes from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia and beyond. Here are several visual definitions. For the benefit of all who are too knackered to read on.

First, a photo of Smudge (above), taken several days after he was rescued dripping wet, voracious and exhausted, by our granddaughters and their mother. Knackered. As in all tuckered out.

Here are four other helpful overviews, thanks to Google,
beginning with my personal favorite:

And three more, in case you need further insight:

Me either!

Here’s to an unknackered weekend!
With sincere apologies to my many friends
who know far more and better
than I do about knackered.

Dare I ask: Are you knackered? Feel free to share your experiences!
Or not.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 April 2017
Photo/Image credits:
Megan Naugle Fraser, Smudge, taken 11 August 2013
Knackered Mom:
Knackered Dog:
Knackered Cat:
Knackered Relaxing Oat Bath Mile:

Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Knackered

Just for You | Photos

Last Christmas I received an invaluable gift from a British friend/cat lover. The title? How it works: THE CAT. An enlightening guide written and illustrated by J. A. Hazeley and J. P. Morris, authors of Cooking Your Dog. This is, I’m told, one of a beloved series for Brits, A Ladybird Book for Grown-Ups.

The book is full of peculiar wisdom and wit. Just for today, I’m practicing this gem of advice, found on p. 40:

It is important to constantly take photographs of your cat [and post them online?] or people might not know that you have a cat.

Herewith, choice pieces of evidence that I have a cat!

In case you’ve never met, this is Smudge, aka Prince Oliver Smudge the Second. So named (by the entire family) because he had a sweet little charcoal smudge just between his ears when our granddaughters and their mother rescued him from certain starvation on a cold rainy day in a state park behind their house. But that’s another story.

Here we go….

Resting like a prince on handmade placemats
I purchased in Nairobi at a business that
teaches refugee African women how to set up and run
their own businesses

I call this one Someone to Watch Over Me.
Taken in my home office on my iPad mini.
The teddy bear was a gift from seminary students
after the death of a family member.
The patchwork cushion is a handmade birthday gift
from the wife of a beloved Peruvian colleague at the seminary.
The two small brown head pillows belonged to D’s
favorite aunt; retrieved from her apartment following her death.

Don’t waste your money on fancy toys!

A better box. Actually a box within a box–even better!
Taken by our daughter last June when she came to babysit Smudge and my broken jaw.

Our wannabe King of the Lions lounging with his docile subjects!
That’s the very warm and cozy radiator cover in the living room,
with evidence that I actually vacuum from time to time.
You do see the hose in the lower right-hand corner, don’t you?

DAF, Dec 2015
Just interrupted from a long winter snooze on an old towel.

Finally, my Tooth Fairy Foto of D and Smudge, taken last week.
I’d just brought D home after an oral surgeon extracted a cracked rear molar.
He hadn’t had much sleep during the weekend because of pain.
Smudge can’t resist a heated waterbed on a cold day–hence the towel.
I gave D the small pink Valentine’s Day bear years ago–to watch over him.
The roses above the bed were painted by a friend in the 1970s.

Chuckles and warm memories. A great way to begin this day. Thanks for visiting!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 April 2017
Photos taken by DAF, Sherry, and me
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Chuckle


What matters most?

Smudge knows what really matters!

Smudge practicing what matters most–his favorite relaxation pose on D’s lap

Dear Friends,

Let’s start with more good news! Read the rest of this entry »

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