Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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In the Dark Places

cat eyes

In the dark places around my home there are creatures that lurk in the shadows. They make noises, unnerving noises, when they scratch and chitter under the floorboards.

No, I am not going to tell you another scary story. I’m not because what I have said isn’t  true. There are actual creatures around and under my home.

One night, a couple of years ago, I woke up and heard scratching noises. I was alarmed because the first thing I thought was that I might have mice. Then I listened more carefully. The noises I heard were not coming from inside my bedroom. They were coming from the floor. There was something underneath the building.

A few days later, I discovered that another tenant or maybe the landlord and put out a metal cage trap in front of the crawl space of our building.  I never did find out what, if anything, was caught.

Years ago, when I moved in to my apartment building, you would see around the neighborhood the occasional squirrel or rat in the heavily foliaged places.  Not so anymore.   First the opossums ran out the squirrels.  Next came the raccoons which have become big, bad-tempered nuisances.   Until recently a family of them lived in the storm drain right outside my front door and from time-to-time we scared the bejeezus out one another when we would encountered each other in our comings and goings.

One night, a not-so-pleasant smell came wafting through my windows.  I knew immediately what it was and it was confirmed a couple of mornings later when I walked out and saw a skunk race across the street — again from the storm drain.  (I guess the skunk evicted the raccoon family).

Finally,  one morning last summer when we had record breaking heat, I went out on my front porch about 5:30 in the morning to catch a breath of cooler air.  I saw something trotting down the sidewalk towards me.  When it got in front of me, a mere ten feet or so, I was astonished at what a saw.  There was no mistaking the bushy tail, lanky legs, pointy ears and snout.  A coyote!

You have to understand why living in such a Wild Kingdom  seems to strange to me.  I live in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world.   When I was a kid you did not see creatures like this.   And it is not only night creatures.  In the daylight, it is not unusual to see pelicans, egrets, cormorants and the like living in whatever open wet areas they can find — parks, golf courses, canals, ponds, and creeks.  I have seen red-tailed hawks hovering on the updrafts on the sides of office buildings.

The most inspiring and indeed the most unusual creatures I have witnessed lately are arrows of Canada geese flying in formation.  Canada geese!  Here?   They are not indigenous to my area — or at least they haven’t been in my lifetime.     I see them flying in the same direction at about the same time every morning.    I wonder if they are following some invisible magnetic lines in the earth and I wonder what they see that I don’t.

So what is my point in telling you this?   It is this:  we are constantly being told that our world is in peril.  Don’t get me wrong:  it is and we need to do something about it.   But what if we can’t or don’t?   I honestly think mother nature will be able to cope in the long run.    If you had asked me just ten years ago if I thought I would ever see such a parade of wildlife around and under my home in the middle of an urban area, I would have brushed you off.   But nature is coming back to claim her own.  She has been hiding in the dark places, in the shadows, for such a time as this.   Life will not be pushed aside.   It will survive and flourish with or without our help.

Life will find a way.

ljg (c) 2013


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Not All Fools Are Motley

stone fool“Ah, the Queen of Swords, a very significant card.  This is you– rational, intellectual, given to coldness if you are not careful.”

Thanks, a lot, lady.  Celia shifted uncomfortably on the upholstered cushion.  She adjusted her tight gray skirt.  Seating the patrons on floor cushions was the Marrakesh Cafe’s attempt to make the patrons feel like they were in Berber tent.  It added a wonderful ambiance to the establishment at night or on the weekends, but in the middle of a work day, it was problematic, especially to Celia in her pumps, pantyhose and a tight suit.

Also, having her fortune read at the insistence of her office-mates, Phebe and Audrey, was also awkward.  The cafe had a professional tarot card reader to lend an even more exotic feel to the experience.   Actually, according to the reader’s business card tactfully placed on the table, her name was Rosalind LaBeau, a counseling intern specializing in life coaching.

Despite Rosalind’s credentials, Celia did not believe that tarot card reader could foretell one’s future.  However, the fact that her office-mates would believe any nonsense put forth by Rosalind made her anxious.  There’s no telling what Rosalind would come up with that her co-workers would immediately parlay into office gossip.

Celia grunted an acknowledgement, and Rosalind, in her wildly colorful gypsy-esque costume, flipped over the next card.

“The Fool!”

“Yeah, that’s me,” Celia grumbled.  She gave a sidelong glance at her co-workers.  I’m a fool to let those two drag me here.

“Indeed.  The Fool represents the common man or woman on a journey towards self-fulfillment.”

“Really.”

“Yes, the Fool needs to be careful though.  He is oblivious to the precipice that he is about to step over.”

With one hand Celia started to fiddle with the plain silver necklace she wore everyday to work.    With the other she picked a glass of hot mint tea.  “And what cliff am I about to step over?”   She sipped from her glass.

“The card does not say.”

“Of course it doesn’t.”  Celia set her tea down.

“Don’t assume, ma’am, that the cliff is necessarily a bad thing.” Rosalind tapped the image of the motley dressed figure on the card.  “Sometimes it represents stepping out into something new and different.  Sometimes it means that we need to get outside our comfort zone.”

“I quite like it in my ‘comfort zone,'” said Celia.

“Yeah,” said Phebe.  “You would never, ever see Celia step out on a limb for anything.”   Audrey laughed.

“So what if I don’t take risks.  At least I am not worried about where my life is headed.”

“Headed towards of life of boredom and obscurity,” countered Audrey.

“If you don’t take any risks, how can you ever get anywhere? ” added Phebe.

Celia sighed.  Phebe and Audrey were the Oprahs of the fourteenth floor, dispensing advice, mostly unsolicited and usually spurious, whenever they had the opportunity.

“What is the next card?” Phebe eagerly said to Rosalind.

Rosalind flipped over the next card.   Phebe and Audrey gasped.  Celia’s spine straightened.

Staring back at them from the red-clothed table top was a sickly yellow skeleton, suited in black medieval armor, riding a pale horse.

“The Death Card,” whispered Audrey.

“That’s it.  We’re done here.”   Celia fished in her purse for her wallet as she picked up the check.   “I’ll take care of this” and motioned for the waiter to come over.

“It’s not what you think, ma’am.”

“And what do I think,” Celia said as she struggled to rise from the floor cushion.  She handed the check and some cash to the waiter and waved him off.

“The Death Card does not mean physical death.  It means transformation and change.  My take on this is that you are about to encounter a life changing event. You need to be ready for it.” explained Rosalind.

“Thank you.  I’ll take that under advisement.”  Celia turned to Phebe and Audrey. “Ladies, I’ll see you back at the office.”

Celia briskly walked out of the cafe, shaking her head.

Why did I let them talk me into having my fortune told?  

She did not like the idea forming in her mind.

Because I am not happy with my life and I really wish someone would tell me that it will change.

She frowned.   Jeez, I’ve been hanging out too much with Phebe and Audrey.  I’m starting to believe their psycho-babble.

Suddenly, she heard someone shout.  “Lady, watch out!”

Instinct kicked in and Celia threw herself against the wall of the building next to the sidewalk just in time to see a heavy plastic bucket crash to the ground next to her.  Water splattered in all directions and the bucket bounced and rolled down the sidewalk.

Celia looked up and saw a window washer about four stories above her.  “Lady, are you okay?!” he shouted down.  Celia just stared at him and then at the empty bucket.  She came just inches from getting hit in the head with a full bucket of water.   “Um, yeah, I’m good.”

The window washer looked relieved.  “Sorry, then.”

Celia steadied herself and continued walking down the street.   That was close.  Too close. That’s just it, isn’t it.   It could all end for me at any time.  So why am I wasting my life then doing the same old work day after day?  Why?  Because I’m afraid, that’s why. 

Celia felt her eyes start to tear up.  How did I get so afraid of living? 

She took a deep breath and she picked up her stride.   I’m done with this.  I’m going to do it.  I’m actually going to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.   I’m going to take all my accumulated vacation time and go on a real vacation.   A long one to somewhere I’ve never been.  But… But I really hate to travel alone….

Suddenly, she heard the sound of tires screeching to a halt.  Like the classic dear-in-the-headlights, she gave a long, disbelieving stare at the yellow cab that was emerging from the driveway of an underground parking garage.  Celia had unthinkingly stepped in front of the vehicle.   The cab driver leaned on the horn giving her a long, rude blast.

“Hey, Sleeping Beauty.  Wake up!”   He pointed to a sign on the wall next to the garage exit that said Pedestrians Must Yield to Traffic.  “Sweetie, are you trying to get yourself killed?  I have the right-of-way.”

“I’m sorry.  You’re right.”  Celia quickly scuttled out of the taxi’s way.  The driver glared at her and muttered something that she could not hear.

Two close calls in less than five minutes?   Celia’s thoughts paused on the death card that Rosalind had laid in front of them.

Could it be that?  No, no, no.  I don’t believe in that stuff.  Besides, she said the card had to do with change, with transformation, not real death.    Maybe these are all signs. Signs telling me to get moving. 

  I want to travel.  I want to go to Morocco, not just eat in Moroccan restaurants.  I want to go to Spain, and France, and Italy… oooo, and Greece too.  And I’ll go alone if I have to.  Lots of people travel alone…. 

Celia began to smile.  It had been a long time since she felt excited about anything.

Yes, I’m going to go back to office and fill out a vacation request.   I’ve got six weeks accumulated so no one is going to object.   Then I’m going to start looking at travel packages.  Maybe there’s a singles tour I can take and maybe meet some new people. Life is too short to waste on dreaming.  I am going to do this!

Celia was almost giddy with delight when she reached the corner across from her building.  As she waited for the light to turn change, she felt herself getting happier and more excited.  She looked down at the steep curb.

It’s just like the precipice in the Fool card.  But stepping off a cliff is not always a bad thing the woman said.

The light turned green and “Walk” sign came on.  It’s a sign.  Another signI’ve got the green light to do this.

Celia carefully looked both ways just to make sure there was no on-coming traffic.  Her new found enthusiasm had made her more alert.

I do not need to get run over by a truck just now.  She chuckled at her own foolish thoughts.

She made it across the street in one piece.  She opened the large glass door of her office building and confidently walked through.  As she approached the Security Desk, she pulled her company badge out of her purse.  She noticed the person manning the Security Desk.

There’s someone new here today.  I wonder what happened to Henry?

The guard was a tall man dressed in a black uniform and wearing an officer’s hat.  His attention was set on some papers at the desk.  Celia could not see his face.

Celia stepped up to the desk.  “Hi, you must be new.  Welcome to the building.”  She thrust her badge out for him to examine.

Then the man looked up and Celia’s face blanched.

A yellow skeleton face looked back at her and smiled.

ljg © 2013


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Go Provoke Yourself

underwood typewriterI was driving around a few days ago,  and I saw this huge banner draped over the street.  It simply said “Go Provoke Yourself” and the name of a new art museum that just opened up in my neighborhood.

I know the idea behind this slogan is to provoke in the community an interest in art and aesthetics and to get us to visit the new museum.   However, this slogan did more than get me to go to the museum’s opening day.  It has also caused me to reflect on my own internal landscape to see what is there that might be provoked out of stagnation and into action.

In doing this introspection, I have provoked myself into getting serious, really serious, about writing.  As a result, I have joined a private online group whose members are devoted to writing and making art on a regular, disciplined basis.

No more farting around and pretending.   A writer writes.  A writer writes a lot, every day.   Ray Bradbury said this:  “Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”

So, if I continue just pretending to be a writer and finding all kinds of reasons not to write — I’m too busy, I’m too tired, I have relationships that suck the creative impulse out of me,  I can’t think of anything to write about, my friends will think I’m weird, blah, blah, blah, — then I am, as Bradbury says, doomed.

The fact is any excuse not to write is just disguising the fact that I have been lazy.   So I have resolved not to be anymore.

Let me ask you this: what is YOUR excuse?  Remember, I’m not buying any of the excuses stated above.  And neither should you.

Now, go provoke yourself.

ljg (c) 2013


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Acquired ADD

gramaphone Today I had a brain blip, a mind fart, a single misfiring neuron — whatever you want to call it, I had one today.

Here’s what happened:  This morning I could not sign on to WordPress.  The WordPress genie said I was using the wrong login/password information.  I tried and tried to get in, and finally worked myself into a panic thinking that someone had hacked my account and changed my password.  However, after about twenty minutes, I figured out what I was doing wrong.  I was attempting to use a login name that I use for another purpose.

This would not bother me so much except I could have sworn — in fact I did swear to some of my FB buddies — that I was absolutely using the right login information.

I usually don’t do stuff like this.  Well, I used to not usually do it.  It seems like more and more I am doing dippy things like this.

At first I thought I was just getting old and my memory was going, but one of my FB buddies suggested that it may be that I am more distracted these days.    I think she may be right.

I remember in my younger years that I could sit down and read a book for hour after hour.  Now my mind wanders after reading about a paragraph and a half.   I used to be able to sit still and work on an art project for long periods of time.  Now I am jumping up and fooling around with others things.  I meditate and even that lately has been difficult to do.  I cannot even stay focused on my breath for more than about ten seconds.

Can one acquire Attention Deficit Disorder as an older adult?

I think my problem has a lot to do with being surrounded by too many opportunities for artificial engagement.  Before we had television and radio, people sat around and talked and told stories.  We engaged with small handfuls of real people.   When we acquired television, we only had three or four channels.  We were not driven by a hand remote to derive companionship from  eleven hundred cable channels of talking heads like we do now.   In our leisure time, we did not jump up from listening to music on an ipod to flipping through a library of books on our Kindles.    We might have sat quietly and read a real book to the sounds of a crackling fire and a record player playing.

I could certainly blame the technology, but the truth is that the damage is happening because I refuse to unplug myself every once in a while.  By not doing so, I am losing my ability to sit and focus.  It is a kind of self-inflicted brain damage, I think…..

Huh?  What?   Sorry, I got distracted.

ljg (c) 2013