Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place

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Turning Right

My intention today was to photograph at a local botanical garden.   I had been planning to do this for quite a while and was waiting for a sunny spring day.  Today seemed like it would be that day.  However, as I was driving towards the garden, on a whim I made a right turn instead of a left and ended up on the edge of a rocky point overlooking the Pacific.  The point is a popular place for whale-watching enthusiasts who spend hours watching and counting marine mammals.

the watchers

The group seemed to be looking in the same direction with their scopes.  I tried to discreety come behind each watcher as she or he intently scanned the ocean. I was not successful in seeing anything they were seeing (of course, I did not have a scope of any sort). All of a sudden, the members of the group got excited. “There she is!” one called out. “I see the calf,” said another.  A woman quickly scratched something in a notebook.

I trained my eyes on the patch of water.  Then I saw a dark gray hump emerge a few inches above the surface and blow a few white frothy bubbles.  I am amazed at the keen eyes and the patient dedication of these watchers.  I would have missed this if I had not been watching where the watchers watched.

theres a whale in this pictureTrust me:  there is a whale cow and her calf right under the surface smack in the middle of this picture.

I watched for a while longer and then decided that I would leave the watchers to what appears to be a form of meditation for them.   Before I left, I took a shot of their tally board.

tally boardI don’t know why I came here today.  The garden would  have been lovely.  The garden, though, in all its beauty, is still a human-made thing.  Today I think I needed to go someplace where wild things lived.  I needed to see the untamed.  Let’s face it: this April was not a great month for the world situation in general and a lot of people in particular — (Boston, Texas, Syria, Bangladesh to name a few).   Watching this whale mother and her baby migrate north to Alaska as her ancestors have done for thousands and thousands of years filled me with a great deal of comfort.

In spite of the human-created chaos around us, some things are constant.

pt vicente in bloomljg (c) 2013

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Early Bird or Night Owl

Sleeping Dryad

When I looked at some of the responses to this prompt, I was surprised to see so many posts from “early birds”.  I think the general stereotype of writers and other creatives is that we are all coffee drinking night owls when we pursue our craft or art.

Personally, I am an early bird and most of my best work is done from about 4 to 6 a.m.   My guess is that I am most in touch with my unconscious mind just after waking and thus in tune with my creative self.  Or maybe it is just a habit I got into when I was furiously working The Artist Way program.

Whatever the reason, it works for me.  Today is an exception though:  it is 6:30 am.  Well, it’s a Saturday after all and I slept in.

Image:  “Sleeping Dryad” (c) 2012

ljg, 2013



Three Urban Haiku

Traditional Japanese haiku is written in a pattern of 5 sound units in the first line, 7 in the second, and 5 in the third.  I recently learned that this pattern is discouraged when writing haiku in English since English syllables are not the same as Japanese sound units.  The focus of English haiku should be to capture a physical setting and a moment in time, hopefully with some sort of “twist” or “aha” for the reader.

Haiku is a lens through which nature and seasons are observed.  I live in the city, so these haiku depict this non-traditional setting.

Twilight clouds roll in
Crows roost on high wires —
A “No Parking” sign.

Waxing gibbous moon
Dog droppings on the sidewalk —
A jogger missteps.

Cold afternoon rain
Slick white Beamer blows by —
Salt from my lips!

ljg (c) 2013



Feeding My Muse

reader under tree sketchedI joined over 100,000 fellow book-lovers this past Saturday at the LA Times Festival of Books.  I have attended the Festival many times over the past decade and every year I walk away creatively invigorated.

This year I decided to forget about scheduling my day around the authors’ speaking engagements.  In the past, this usually never worked out anyway — authors cancelling at the last minute, no more tickets available for the indoor lectures I wanted to hear, et cetera.  This time, I embarked on a looser, more intuitive approach to my day’s activities by just wandering around to the outdoor stages and tents, listening to and speaking with whoever crossed my path.

As a result, I discovered the works of some bright young novelists and mature established poets I want to read:  Kiersten White, Rachel Cohn, Tahereh Mafi, Michelle Gagnon, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, and Kurt Brown.

About mid-day, I came across the tent for a local haiku study group and had an impromptu lesson on what haiku is and is not.  I walked away with a chapbook of haiku and some tutorial resources.   I have written haiku in the past and, like other forms of poetry, it works for me as a warm up to prose writing.   I have recently noticed that some of my online writing colleagues are being re-energized by poetry writing too, so I think I will be joining them and posting more poetry, especially haiku, in the near future.

Saturday was an abnormally warm, brilliantly blue day, and I ended my time at the Festival  by stretching out on the lawn under the sycamores and eucalyptus trees at the Poetry Stage.  I stared at the sky and drank in the words of the poets.

My Muse was well fed and sassily happy this day.

ljg (c) 2013



Yesterday’s Daily Post prompt asks us to discuss an imperfection that we cherish.  I passed by the prompt because I could not think of anything off the top of my head.  However, this morning, I stumbled across this wonderful TED talk.  The speaker uses the imperfection of Raku pottery as a metaphor for the creative process.  If you have about 15 minutes, may I suggest you view it.


Lunchbox Interview


I have difficulty writing events in my past.  Not because of any trauma; it’s just that I am so concerned about the here-and-now that I just don’t think about the past that often.   Sometimes I must force myself to go back in time so the richness of my past experiences are not lost to me.

Here is one exercise that, in part, takes me back a few decades in my memory.    The questions come from Lunch Box Spy, an exercise from the vaults of the Soul Food Cafe.

What can you tell me about the lunches you eat?  My lunches are usually easily and cheaply made from whatever seems appealing to me at 7 a.m. in the morning (leftover from my weekend cooking).  Unfortunately, it is not always appealing five hours later.

What do you remember about your school lunches?  I remember that they were always comprised of a sandwich, usually made on that white squishy bread in the balloon bag (you know which I mean), a bag of potato chips, and cookies.  If my mom knew then what we all know now about this type of food,  she would be mortified with what she was feeding us.

Were there any family jokes about what you liked to eat?   I was chided for liking canned “‘sketti”.  This was what I usually had for Saturday’s at-home lunch.  I know, I know:  bad, bad, bad.  But even to this day, if it weren’t for the fact that this food product is so high in sodium and refined carbs, I would still eat it.  Comfort food to the max.

Who made your lunch?  My mom.

Were you ever able to buy a lunch?   I suppose if I insisted, but our cafeteria was usually filled with kids with whom I did not wish to associate (thugs, jocks, and cheerleaders).  I felt safer bringing my lunch and eating anywhere but there.

What did they stock in the school canteen?  I’m not sure but I heard it was vile.

Did you ever slip across the street with your mates to the fish and chip shop?  No “fish and chip shops” around the ‘hood.  It was more likely Carl’s, McDonalds, or Tito’s Tacos.

Did any one in your class have a better lunch than you? What did they have? Were you ever able to swap with them?   I can’t remember what they had but I do know that we did not swap.

Where did you eat your lunch? Who ate their lunch with you? Did you eat alone?  I usually ate on the school’s front lawn,under a big stone pine in front of the theatre building.  My regular companions were the other geeky kids or the super-smart kids when they were not busy at student government or their service club meetings.  Eating under the pine tree kept us geekies from being picked on by the homies since they were usually busy wrecking havoc in the cafeteria.

What do you have for lunch now?  Today I have brown rice and carnitas for lunch.

Do you still own a lunchbox?  No, I have an insulated lunch bag and I pack my food in plastic containers.

Do you make your lunch or buy it?   I usually try to make and pack a lunch since my work cafeteria is too expensive.  I will occassionally treat myself to a purchased lunch — especially if the grill special happens to be Loco Moco.

Do you eat the same thing every day?  During a given week, yes.  I cook on Sundays and eat what I made every day.  Then it is something new the following week.

What is the worst lunch you have ever eaten?  I can’t remember.  I am grateful for whatever there is.

What is your favourite place to buy lunch?  Tito’s Tacos if I happen to be off work and in the neighborhood.

Personal analysis:  This was initially quite difficult but the memories of school lunches and the classmates with whom I shared lunch came flooding back.  A worthwhile exercise.

About the image:  I found this image on the internet and immediately recognized it as one I had at one time.  I don’t remember actually selecting something so hideously “not me.”

ljg 2013


Ars Poetica

I was pushed to think about poetry today — my poetry specifically.  Now there may be some poetry-haters reading this, and before you groan, close your browsers and take cover, just hear me out.

When I took that first hesitant step into writing “creatively” (rather than spewing out endless college research papers and essays), for some reason I started with poetry.  I never liked reading poetry, but the first time I heard poetry recited I fell in love with it.  I had the opportunity to hear Maya Angelou recite her Still I Rise and she moved me to tears.  I knew then that there was power in poetry.  It was then I started writing poetry and posting it on my long-ago static website.

No one seemed particularly impressed with my poetry — or at least I thought so since most people made no comment and looked decidedly embarrassed when I asked them about it.  After a while I stopped writing poetry altogether.  I knew I would never be anything like a Maya Angelou.

But my foray into writing poetry was not a waste of time.  Writing poetry taught me how to carefully choose my words.  It taught me about rhythm, imagery, and metaphor.  I taught me that all writing, like poetry, bubbles up from inside.  I learned that I may have a particular goal in mind when I begin to write, but when the muse takes over, my writing may end up somewhere else.

I am not sorry that I was a mediocre.  From that experience, I learned how to be a competent story writer.

Here is a poem about writing poetry that I wrote about sixteen years ago.  It may not be great; but I like it.

ARS POETICA I: How to Write a Poem

Poems, like gangs, take over the beach at dark.
It’s not safe, I’m told, to go down there.
But to learn to write a poem, I am going this morning,
in Spring when clouds, thick like pudding, hug
chilled, wet sand and the quiet feels like padding on a wall.

I sprawl on the sand, feet pointing towards the surf,
lacy green foam washing poem-matter over me,
coaxing words whispered in a hesitant ear,
each wave’s fondle hiding a fatal undertow.
Then I realize: I am not safe here.


 Daily Post Challenge

LJG (c)  2013.   Ars Poetica originally written in 1997, recast in 1999

El Porto at Dawn: 2006