Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Winter

Health and Well-Being Update | Peripheral Neuropathy+

The last several months felt like a never-ending hike in the dark. Not knowing. Waiting. Getting bits and pieces of information, but not the whole pie. Which would likely be liver and okra pie—my worst nightmare foods when I was a child!

  1. Seriously, I know more than I did a month ago. Yes, I have peripheral neuropathy. But where is it coming from?
  2. Thanks to the MRI in late December, I now know it’s coming from osteoarthritis in my lower spine.
  3. The pain in my feet can be eased by several simple and challenging exercises. As a religious person and because I’m able to do so, I’m religiously practicing the art of stretching and strengthening my lower back.
  4. The pain in my feet and legs is worse when weather fronts move in along with frigid wind, snow, sleet, and ice. Ironically, sudden changes in air pressure coincide with burning in my legs and feet. Especially at night.
  5. Walking is an excellent way to get circulation going in my lower legs and feet. I walk almost every day come rain or shine, thanks to an open first-floor plan, a radio, and my wi-fi headphones.
  6. Open-toe sandals are comforting to my feet, along with soft, warm knee-high diabetic socks. I am not diabetic.
  7. I have a serious problem with fatigue. Morning energy quickly dissolves into weariness.

Next week I’ll see my hematologist. Based on the outcome of bloodwork he ordered a month ago, he will tell me whether I’m a candidate for a health issue at least as difficult as peripheral neuropathy. D will be with me so that we hear this news together.

That’s my report for now. I’m taking this one day at a time: laughing or crying when I feel like it, lying down for short naps as needed, playing the piano, listening to music, watching the birds, and sticking to my super-healthy diet.

Praying this finds each of you in reasonably good health.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 Jan 2021
Photo found at pinterest.com

In the deep mid-winter | 3 Haikus

buzzing ears open
for business this frigid day
listening to nothing

wind howls
through cracked walls
a baby cries

travelers
missing in action
full stop

Real Winter. We haven’t had it here in Eastern Pennsylvania for several years. Now it seems to be making up for lost time.

This morning I set things up to make a big pot of spiced red lentil soup. I also used my SAD ‘happy light’ to help with my mood. Best of all, I decided not to race out early this morning (with D driving) for a blood draw before 9am.

Not a bad beginning to what promises to be a gusty, sun-shiny day, with the temperature plummeting tonight. Not many birds were out for their early morning suet feast.

Beginning this week, I’ll see three of my doctors, one a week, to find out what my blood tests, MRI, and other tests to my feet and legs are adding up to.

In the meantime, I’m finding out when my feet don’t hurt. It’s all about music! Playing the piano instantly takes my mind off the pain. So does walking in the house or working in the kitchen with my new headphones, listening to direct-feed music, babbling brooks and birds, or anything else remotely musical. Thanks to our daughter and her husband for the birthday headphones.

Best of all, I have no pain when I’m sitting at my computer writing poetry or posts for you.

Until next time, I’m still
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 January 2022
Photo found at houstonchronicle.com

Christmas in bleak midwinter

Outside my kitchen window
the sun beams bright and clear
on a cold Monday morning

Hungry birds run into each other
trying to gobble as many
ripe red berries as the law
allows in this increasingly
lawless dreamland called
these ‘United’ states

A slight glimmer of hope
remains despite our
greedy determination
to spend it all on ourselves
before we disappear into
the vortex of a tornado or
wildfires of human mayhem

Christmas has rarely been
this bleak though in truth
it first arrived in bleak midwinter
when powers that be weren’t
expecting the revolutionary
transformation sparked by
one small baby born and laid
in a manger surrounded by
hopes and dreams despite
the stench of reality

Outside my kitchen window
the sun still beams bright and clear
on this cold Monday morning

With apologies to my friends on the other side of the globe, experiencing what may well be a bleak midsummer.  And with thanks to persistent songbirds that captured my attention this morning with their determined dive-bombing for holly berries!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 20 December 2021
Photo by Terry DeLuko found at pixels.com

Coming up for air

 

Coming up for air
Weary mind and body
Conspire

Catching me off guard
They try changing the subject
Of my latest thought

Which to be sure
I cannot remember in full
Now lost in my dreams

Clouds outside hang heavy
With bits of sleet and weary snow
Frozen and mushy

Like my brain melting
And freezing again drifting
on Shumann’s Träumerei

I’m a bit weary and giddy today. Last night we sent off the (hopefully) last version of my small book of poetry: Without a Flight Plan.

Do I need to publish a book? No. Do I want to? Yes, even though I’ve already said I’m not going to write another book.

So…What happened? 2020 happened. Covid-19. Trump. Black Lives Matter. Social Distancing. And a whole lot more. In addition, my dearly beloved husband suggested last November that I put together a book of my poetry for family members. He also offered to get it ready for printing.

My first response? No way! However, on second thought, last year was one of the most bizarre years of my life. So I decided to let some of last year’s poems speak for themselves (without commentary), along with some favorite Longwood Gardens photos taken by D.

So yes, I’m weary of proofreading. However, I’m excited about having a book this close to becoming real. Especially at this time in my life.

Thanks for stopping by today.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 February 2021
Thanks to YouTube for the video at the top.

How are you doing today?

Our pastor asked this at the beginning of today’s online sermon. It caught me by surprise. It’s also better than a thousand other things we might talk about. So I’m going to begin, and invite you to respond about yourself.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being Great, I’m scoring about 6 or 7 on most days. Why?

~Sometimes winter weather is harsh, meaning no outdoor walk with D
~My health, which requires constant attention 24/7
~The sudden unraveling last March of regular social life (Covid-19)
~Reverberations from chaos recently unleashed on Capitol Hill
~No in-person visits with family members or friends
~Grief that comes with acknowledging I won’t be here forever, which will come sooner, not later

Grief, disappointment, sadness, weariness, uncertainty, loneliness, heartache, fear. I could pretend they don’t bother me. But that wouldn’t be telling the truth.

Thankfully, things like the following bring me joy or gratitude.

~Having enough food (most of it prepared by me)
~Walking outside with David when the weather is decent
~Seeing neighbors and chatting a bit on the street
~Phone calls and email from family members and friends
~Playing with Smudge or holding him on my lap while he sleeps
~Watching birds on our backyard feeders
~Reading a good book and playing the piano
~Listening to music any time of day

Still, good times won’t cancel out down times. Nor do they answer all my questions about life and the world as we know it today. Each day is different. Making plans is difficult. At the same time, Christian faith gives me a foundation I sorely need every day. Scripture, music, devotional reading and journaling.

What about you? How are you getting through this long passage of time, including loss of people you know and love?

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 January 2021
Image found at makeameme.org

The unsung life of birds | Photos

Junco huddles in bare lilac bush one day after the storm

Swarming outside our kitchen window
They take speedy targeted turns
Though not always with good manners
Flocking nonstop to the one thing
They need this season above all else –
A turn at the table set for everyone

The pecking order becomes clear
In the space of about three minutes

Red-bellied woodpeckers take top honors
Clearing the deck and wrapping themselves
Around the feeder in order to get that
One big seed and retreat to the nearest tree

Feisty cantankerous house finches follow quickly;
Swarming house sparrows hog the food and linger
Fighting furiously for the best seat at the table;
Chickadees and tufted titmice land, grab and go;
Red and white-bellied nuthatches often prefer it
Upside-down and are gone in a flash,
Favorite seeds gripped in razor-sharp beaks

Brilliant male cardinals and their mates hover
In nearby shrubs, watching for an opening
Though he frequently shoves her to the
Sidelines where she patiently (?) waits her turn
Beside sweet grey and white juncos sitting
On the porch rail watching for just the right
Moment to swoop in and grab a bite or two

Isn’t it wonderful to write scripts for the birds? I wonder what they would write about us.

This week we’ve had ample time to study the seed and suet feeders. Generally speaking (in case you’re wondering), ubiquitous gray squirrels are being deflected from the impenetrable bird feeder, thanks to the recently hung suet feeder. They prefer trying to bite through the suet screen, hoping to break in and grab the whole cake!

David took the photos above and below the day after this week’s wild wind, snow, sleet and ice storm. Enjoy!

The morning after the storm

House sparrows

Nuthatch on suet feeder; yes, the squirrels managed to spring the cage, but not far enough to deliver the whole cake!
Now fully secured, assuming they can’t bite through small padlocks….

Red male cardinal feasting

Female cardinal and a white-bellied junco

I pray this closing week of Advent brings hope and peace into parts of our lives that are difficult at any age.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 December 2020
Photos taken by DAFraser, 17 December 2020

In spite of everything

In spite of everything
The sun came up today
Brilliant rays pierce shadows
Illuminate dust and beauty
Alike without warning
Igniting fanciful thoughts
Banishing gloom and doom
Dancing on airs of expectation
And gratitude for what is
Imminently bloom-worthy

All things considered, today I’m choosing nature’s reality over other options screaming for attention.

Yesterday I had a wonderful, unexpected call from my youngest sister. It was the first time she’s called me since her health crisis on Christmas Eve. Hearing her voice was like discovering a determined crocus unexpectedly pushing up through cold winter earth. Clear, grounded and intent on living.

Happy Monday to each of you!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 February 2020
Photo of early spring flowers found at pixabay.com

Dancing across the sky

Dancing across the sky
Northern lights backdrop
the night and planet earth
bundled in white snow
drifting from tree to tree

specks of distant starlight
pierce a silky curtain
of green, magenta and blue —
primordial visitors
to winter’s boreal forest

I love the peacefulness of this photo. Then there’s the harsh reality of endangered boreal forests, and our need for them to remain healthy if we are to be here, too. Mostly, though, I love the peacefulness of this nighttime photo. For more about Canada’s huge boreal forest, check out this link.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 January 2020
Photo of Northern Lights at the edge of Canada’s boreal forest found at pinterest.com

Lulled by promises

Cold air rushes into the void gasping
Shaking rafters and startling trees
Grown soft in mild winter sunshine

Radiators crackle and pop
Kitty curls into a ball of white fur
Humidifiers bubble and sigh
Cars rush by with home on their minds

How cruel to be lulled by promises
Whispered yesterday beneath a balmy sky

No major winter warnings. Just a run of bitter cold weather this coming week. Maybe a bit of snow.

OK. I can’t help myself. Fake weather. That’s what it is! Don’t believe a thing you see, hear or feel. It’s a warm, sunny, beautiful day! Enjoy! 🙂

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 January 2020
Photo of Smudge hibernating taken by DAFraser, Winter 2014

Breath of God Unseen – revisited

wind-sculpted-drifts-martin-nd-13-jan-2017

I  posted this in January 2017. It’s as true today as was then, especially given world and national events of the past few years. It’s difficult to keep my eyes on what matters most these days, rather than what parades as ‘reality.’ 

Breath of God
Unseen
Artist of my heart
And life
Breathe on me 

The wind is cold
Unyielding
To my vain cries
For mercy
Breathe on me 

Evening shadows
Lengthen
In fading light
Brilliant
and foreboding 

Deep blue sky
Darkens
Trees bend and sway
Breath of God
Breathe on me 

It’s late afternoon. This morning I woke to this photo on my weather page. I thought immediately about my life and the way God’s Spirit has blown through and around it, unseen and unbidden.  

Looking back, I’d say the outcomes today are beyond my wildest dreams. Not that I’m perfect or successful or even ‘special.’ Rather, this is about contentment. 

I’m at peace with myself, though not always with situations in which I find myself.  Or even with my behavior. Nonetheless, things have changed in my spirit over the last several years. 

Today I have compassion for myself as a child, as a young teenager, as a wife, mother and grandmother, and as a retired professional. I rarely struggle with feeling like a fraud, or with harsh self-talk that belittles me or accuses me of being The Problem with Everything. 

I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m saying I’m at rest with who I am and who I am not. Especially from the inside out. The part that really matters. 

I like what I see when I think of myself as a huge pile of snow, sculpted by God’s Spirit through winds of change. I know, things aren’t exactly spectacular in the world right now. It’s just that today I’m at peace with myself.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 January 2017, reposted 1 November 2019
Photo taken by Brian Bender at Martin, North Dakota, USA, 13 Jan 2017
Found at Weather Underground App

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