Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place

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Mindfulness and the Art of Chai

I enjoy making chai from scratch.  I can control the sweetness and my choices of flavors far better than the syrupy cups served  up by the green mermaid coffee house or from the shelf-stable boxes of concentrate you can buy at the supermarket.   No, I make mine at home.

Chai is not something I slap together in the morning.  There is not enough time to do it right.  In the morning, I pop a k-cup in the machine and pump out a cup of coffee rocket fuel.    Chai-making is something I do slow and with great attention in the evenings or on the weekends.

My formula is comprised of cardamom pods, black peppercorns, whole cloves, fresh ginger and Ceylon cinnamon bark that I smash and crack with a stone mortar and pestle.  The tea is a dark rich Assam.  Strong black tea is essential.  No timid Earl Grey or green tea will cut it.   The spices and tea, along with a bit of coconut palm sugar, are added to a small pan of boiling water and then allowed to steep on a low flame for several minutes.   The longer the steep, the more developed the flavors.  Finally, I add whole milk until the concoction is an orangey tan, bring it back to a boil, then pour it through a fine mesh strainer into a serving cup.

The process is slow, slow, slow.   And I sip it accordingly.

I came across a video this morning that exactly illustrates the process and the practice.


15,693 Lines


I see now why my early education left out a study of The Iliad. This epic poem is 15,693 lines describing slippery, bloody gore interspersed with sexual violence against women. So nauseated was I with this reading that I stopped at the seventeenth book and just listened to summaries of the remaining seven books.

I did a study of reasons why this poem is so important to a good classical education.  I couldn’t really find any reasons that sat right with me.  One reason that kept coming up is that it teaches us about the suffering that war causes.  Ya think?   I don’t think that was the reason the author/s (Homer might have been a bunch of people) wrote this poem.   I don’t think he/they even had this in mind.   Homer wrote this for a particular audience:  a patriarchal warrior culture that loved this kind of story telling.

So what does this say about us Westerners as descendants of ancient Greek culture?   I tried to google how many people in Europe ever died in war.   I could not find a total without having to add up the estimated death count of dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of wars.

And let’s not get started on violence against women in our culture.

I don’t think, as a culture, we have learned a darn thing.

On to The Odyssey.   I hope this is not a disappointment too.

ljg 2023


Getting Out to the Art


For the first time since way before the pandemic, I took myself out to an art museum. It was weird being out among so many people (and I sure hope I don’t catch anything).

The point of my visit was to jump start my creativity. I did go home and start a painting.

By the way, I am still reading the Iliad so I found myself being drawn to subjects of classical Greek mythology.


Artificial Intelligence and The Trivium

I have come to realize that my childhood education has been spotty in terms of learning to critically think. It got better with specific instructors in high school (Mrs. Fairbanks’ essay writing course comes to mind). Then when I got to college at a private liberal arts institution, I really learned to critically think. But that was all DECADES ago.

Years and years of working in an administrative business environment has chipped away at my ability to read, think and write. LOL!
Therefore, I am starting all over.   After a weekend of online researching “self-education”, I came across the foundation of classical education: The Trivium.

Historically, in the medieval period, the Trivium was the study of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. A modern interpretation of grammar can be more broadly applied as studying the basics and foundations of any subject. “Logic” is taking this foundational information, analyzing it, and determining its validity and applicability. Finally, “rhetoric” is expressing it either verbally or through writing and by interacting with others on it.

To employ the Trivium model to self-education, the student doesn’t need to stick to traditional subjects. If the student is into, let’s say, quantum physics, this study model can apply.

I, on the other hand, was a history and humanities major so I am going the more traditional route. To my shame, I realized that I have never read the Iliad. My goodness, reading the Iliad is sooooo fundamental to a traditional liberals arts education and some how that never happened. Therefore, I decided to start there.

Here is where I go sideways: I asked an artificial intelligence bot for help. Here is what I told the AI bot (whom I have renamed “Alice”):

Me: I am going to read the Iliad. How would I apply the Trivium study model to this reading?
Alice the Bot: The Trivium study model consists of three stages: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Here’s how you could apply this model to your reading of The Iliad:
Grammar stage: During this stage, you will focus on the basic facts of the text, such as its plot, characters, and setting. You should read the text carefully, taking notes on important details, and using reference materials (such as a dictionary or an encyclopedia) to help you understand any unfamiliar words or concepts. This stage is all about building a foundation of knowledge that you can use in the later stages of analysis.
Logic stage: In this stage, you will focus on the relationships between the different elements of the text. You should analyze the cause-and-effect relationships between events, identify patterns in the characters’ behavior, and evaluate the author’s use of literary devices (such as symbolism, metaphor, and imagery). You should also ask questions about the text, such as why certain events occur or what the author’s message might be.
Rhetoric stage: This stage is all about expressing your own ideas about the text in a clear and effective way. You should use the knowledge and insights you gained in the previous stages to write a thoughtful and well-supported analysis of The Iliad. This analysis should be persuasive and engaging, using evidence from the text to support your arguments and interpretations.
By applying the Trivium study model to your reading of The Iliad, you can deepen your understanding of the text and develop your critical thinking and communication skills. Good luck with your reading!

I then asked Alice to design a “curriculum” or a “syllabus” for me and to recommend readings relevant to the study of the Iliad. She gave me a long list of books on ancient Greek culture, politics and history. That was a little more than what I wanted, so I asked her what she thought about some of the books I already had in my personal library. On all of them, she said the books were good for the general public but were not scholarly. That’s okay.

So using cutting edge artificial intelligence, I am going to study one the most ancient of texts, using a historically medieval model of study.

I think that’s pretty cool.

ljg 2023

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Poetic Forms: Bob and Wheel

I will be exploring various poetic forms for a while. The first is an old English form called “Bob and Wheel”. This form is five lines, with a rhyme scheme of ABABA, the first line is two or three syllables and the remaining lines are all six syllables.

I fired this one off this morning in my journal.

Here we go:
Daily commute to work
Red, green, go with the flow
Ride that desk, do not shirk
Sixty-five comes too slow.

ljgloyd 2023

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Daily Writing Practice

My daily writing practice is to read first thing in the morning. For example, this morning I started the book The Chosen by Chaim Potok. This is the selection for a book group to which I belong. I will also read a couple of poems selected from an anthology and one from the poet I am currently studying (right now, that is Gary Snyder).

Then later today when I have a few minutes, I will write a minimum of three sentences of prose or a short poem in my journal. At the end of the month, I will either have 90 sentences or 30 poems. That’s the goal at least. Sometimes I fall off the daily practice writing for quite a while. That’s okay, though. Eventually, I get back on the wagon.

Now if I can only do a daily art-making practice like this too.

ljg 2023

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As I may have stated elsewhere on this blog, I am one of those odd-ball people who likes to read and write poetry.

For me, poems do not need to have end rhymes, but they do need to have rhythm and repetition, alliteration and assonance. Most importantly, they need to be understandable and relatable. I cannot stand stream-of-consciousness poems that have meaning only to the poet. I can’t read it and I sure can’t write it.

Who are some of my favorite poets who embody this clarity and economy of words–the poets who tell me stories to which I can relate?    Some include Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Oliver, Maya Angelou, Carolyn Forche’, Matsuo Basho, Edgar Allan Poe, and William Shakespeare.

This morning I came across this video of Nye reading one of my favorite poems followed by an explanation of her process.  I felt compelled to share it.

More to come on poetry.


The Orbs

Yes, I have seen what I consider to be UFOs. I have not often shared this experience because, well, it is not something people should do if they want to be taken seriously by family, friends and employers. However, since it seems that mainstream news and government agencies are now taking a closer look at such phenomena – now called Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAPs), I figured it was time I told my story.

In October 1997, I visited with a friend at her family’s beach house on the outskirts of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. It was one of those rare autumn evenings on the Bahia de Todos Santos when there was no marine layer of clouds to obscure the stars.

It was a Friday evening and we had just returned from having dinner in town. We had not been drinking. This is an important fact that is necessary for the telling of this story. We chatted for a few minutes with some neighbors outside the house, and by the time we were ready to go in, it was completely dark and the stars were out. The moon had not yet risen.

As my friend opened the three security gates that protected the backdoor of the house (a bit of a process that took a few minutes), I stood in the courtyard and peered up at the stars. I immediately noticed a tiny, pale yellow point of light, moving somewhat slowly from west to east directly overhead. I said to my friend, “Hey, I think I see a satellite.”

My friend stepped away from the door to stand next to me and looked up. “Yes, that’s a satellite. It’s not blinking like a plane.” No sooner after she said that, the light stopped directly over head. Neither one of us said anything.

Then, it made a ninety degree turn and started to move north.

I said, “I don’t think satellites make sharp turns like that.”

“No, they don’t and neither does anything else.” My friend was and still is one of the most level-headed people I know, the kind of person you want around in case of an emergency, yet the pitch of her voice as she said this told me she was struggling with what she was seeing.

We stared at the light as it moved overhead. Suddenly it stopped and two more lights appeared out of nothing. One was blue and the other pale orange. We both gasped.

“What are those?” I whispered.

“I’m getting the field glasses.” My friend rushed back to the door and hurried to unlock the last gate. She flung it open and ran inside.

I continued to watch the orbs. They bobbed around each other like insects do when in a group. I felt my skin get goose fleshy and fear gripped me. I could not wrap my head around what I was seeing. When I could not stand it anymore, I turned and rushed to the door where my friend had gone. I collided with her as she was coming out. It would have been very comical if I had not been so scared.

She had the field glasses and started scanning the sky. In the few seconds that I had taken my eyes off the orbs, they had vanished.

We stood outside for quite a while longer watching the sky. I hoped they would come back because I wanted proof that what we saw were real. I also hoped that they would not because I was so mind-blown at what I had witnessed.

We finally went inside and talked long into the night. We re-assured each other that we were not delusional or drunk and that we both saw the same thing. We eliminated the possibility that they were some sort of aircraft. My friend worked in aerospace and was very sure on this point. We doubted that the Mexican authorities had any sort of technology that moved like this. This was in the days before anyone had drones that could move like this. Just in the last couple of years did I learn that this area of the southern California and Baja California coasts were a hotbed of UAP sightings.

We finally ended the evening nervously joking that maybe Men-in-Black would pay us a visit and then filed away this experience. Every once in a while when we see each other, we bring it up and mull it over again.

So what did we see? Optical illusion? Black op exercises? Extraterrestrial or interdimensional beings? Angels? Demons?

I don’t know. I will probably never know. But I do scan the sky from time-to-time and wonder.

Ljg 2023