Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


Freedom Days

This morning I was trying to remember why I used to paint and why I don’t anymore. I think it has to do with the fact that when I was painting, I had the time to do so, had the room to do so, and had not yet taken on the burdens that life throws at all of us. In other words, I was still a child, or at least a child at heart, when I used to paint.

Now I live somewhere where there is no room or ventilation to paint. I don’t have blocks of time to get into the process of painting. And I just have too many adult concerns to have the freedom of spirit to paint.

I found some of my paintings I did in those freedom days many decades ago. Here are a few of them. These were all done in my late teens and very early twenties:

horse painting late teens

sunset painting late teens 2

sunset painting late teens 1

siamese cat

ljgloyd (c) 2013


What is an Artist?

reader under tree sketchedI have a question for you all.  How do you define “artist”?   And by “artist” I mean a person who engages in expression through any genre or medium:  writer, photographer, painter, sculptor, knitter, film-maker, fry-cook, and the like.   After thinking about how I create, I have formulated this definition for myself:

An artist is one who manifests universal truths through the skillful and imaginative use of tools relative to various media and genres and who draws upon the inspiration of a mysterious external source to accomplish the manifestation.

You may disagree completely with my definition.  That’s okay.  The terms “universal truths” and “mysterious external source” may simply not be a part of your equation.  The definition should be a construct that frames and guides your work.  Whatever works for you.

If you are so inclined, feel free to share your definition in the comments section below.   If you are not inclined to share, that’s okay.  Just think about it.

ljgloyd (c) 2013


Return to Riversleigh, Part II

underwood typewriterContinued from Part I:


On only a handful of occasions have I actually seen Lumina with my own eyes. She usually makes her presence known to me when that perfect sentence suddenly streams through my pen onto paper, or a complex character takes shape in my mind. She is there when I get excited over the start of a new story or when I feel the intense satisfaction when a project is finally finished.  On those few times when he has incarnated herself in physical form, she has manifested her appearance different ways each time.  Once she appeared to me as an elderly woman, another time as a young girl. She has come to me in a variety of skin tones and hair colors. No matter what she looked like, I always knew it was her.

Standing next to the counter, she is a young woman, as pale as an early spring morning. Her hair was unbound, and she wore a diaphanous gown embroidered in gold thread.  Around her was a golden aura and her face seemed to radiate an inner glow.

As I gaped at her, she stepped forward and picked up my hand.  “How are you, my dear?”

“I…I”.   Lumina was definitely not helping me with my words at that moment.  “Um, fine.” I finally managed to stammer.

“Good.”  Lumina turned and looked around the kitchen.

“Miss Lumina,” I began.  “Can I help you with something?”  Immediately, I blushed.  I felt so stupid.

Lumina smiled and her laugh sounded like the tinkling of silver bells.  “You help me every time you create something.”

“Thank you,” I mumbled.  “I guess I was asking…..”

“Why am I here today?”

“Yeah, something like that.”

She let go of my hand and glided around the other side of the stainless steel counter in the center of the kitchen.

“You will be learning to cook?”

I gave a little laugh and shifted on my feet.  “Well, I like to cook and I actually am not that bad at it, but I wanted to learn more….”

“It is commendable to want to learn more, but it is a bit of diversion, isn’t it?


“From writing?”

“Well, see about that – I’m on a little break.”

“No need to explain.  Periods of rest and rejuvenation are highly beneficial.”

“And all my friends are here.”

Lumina smiled.  “Yes, they do seem to be having a good time.  You’ll be joining them, I suspect.”

Lumina strolled around the counter and turned towards me.  She gazed at me with her soft hazel eyes and said nothing more.   I felt like my heart and mind were being scanned.

“Is there something more?”

“Yes, there is.  I understand that you have been unkind to Arvilla.”

I felt like I had been hit in stomach.  “Me?  Unkind to Arvilla?”  I felt my face flush.

“Oh dear, this is worse than I thought.”

“What is?  Arvilla is a —“.  Lumina raised one finger in front of her and I immediately stopped.

“We need to fix this.”

“Fix what, ma’am, if you don’t mind me asking?”

With a nearly indiscernible movement, Lumina nodded her head.

There was another loud pop and flash, and Arvilla materialized.

In a pink bathrobe and her hair bound in a towel, Arvilla appeared to be leaning forward as if she had been looking in a mirror and plucking her eye-brows.   The tweezers fell from her hand and clanged on the floor.

“Great balls of fire!  What moron just teleported me!”  The look of wrath on Arvilla’s face turned to fear and dismay when she saw Lumina.

“Oh, Miz Lumina, I didn’t mean… I am so sorry.”  I struggled to keep from smiling at Arvilla’s discomfort.

“It’s quite alright.  That was a bit impulsive of me, I must admit, but we have a serious matter before us.”

“What is it, ma’am?  Can I be of assistance?”  Arvilla glanced at me.

I rolled my eyes.  What a suck-up.

“Yes, dear, you can.  Both of you can.  I want you both to make up.”

“What?!” I cried.

“You have got to be kidding!  Ma’am, respectfully, this little ingrate had the management ban me from Riversleigh.  Me?  Who does she think she is?   Arvilla gave a little sniff and pursed her lips into a pout.

“Um, ma’am.  I can’t work with her,” I said.  “She has been really rotten to me.  She says all kinds of mean things to me and about my work.”

“Enough.”   Lumina did not raise her voice, but her tone made what seemed like an invisible frost settle around us.   “It appears that I must set down some simple rules since you both seem incapable of acting like adults.”

I cringed from embarrassment.

Lumina turned to Arvilla.  “First, you will stop belittling and demeaning her work.  You may offer suggestions for editing her writing with the goal of making it better, and you will encourage her, NICELY, to get working when she is finding herself—“  Lumina again looked around the kitchen – “distracted.  And you will please refrain from being an insufferable nag.”

Arvilla’s look of indignation withered.  “Yes, ma’am.”

Then she turned to me, and I braced myself.  “You will check your pride at the door and realize that all inspiration and correction come from me and Arvilla.  I am sure Arvilla will be more courteous to you now and that you will take her words of advice and her encouragements to work with a little more grace.”

“I will,” I said, looking at the tile floor.

Lumina stepped forward and lifted my head.  My eyes met her smiling face. “You may play but you must also work.  I promise you that if you show up for work every day – EVERY day – then I will come every day and give you inspiration. Do you understand?”

“I do,” I smiled back.

“Good.”   Lumina gave me a hug, and then said, “Well, I must be off.”  She stepped to the center of the kitchen.

“What about me? She had me banned from Riversleigh?”

“I will speak to the management and I’m sure we can work something out.”

The room began to glow and a shower of gold sparkles descended upon Lumina.  Just before she dematerialized, her attention turned back to Arvilla.

“My dear, have you ever considered electrolysis for that — that eyebrow– thing?”  Then she vanished.

ljgloyd (c) 2013



Return to Riversleigh, Part I

Sierra Exif JPEGAs the bus pulled away, I stood on the side of the road with my bags in hand.  I stared at the great Avenue of the Trees before me.   I could have requested a staff member to collect me from the bus stop, but I wanted to enjoy the mile-long stroll on the Avenue that leads to the gates of Riversleigh Manor.

You never know what type of trees will be on the Avenue or in what season.  Everything at Riversleigh operates on its own time and in its own way.    On a previous visit, the Avenue was comprised of jungle foliage with a heavy canopy.  At another time it was a Siberian taiga forest.   Today there are luscious green deciduous trees in full summer leaf, even though it was mid-winter, cold and dead, in my real world back home.  The tree branches interlaced overhead making a tunneled portal directly to the manor gates — and into another realm.

You see, Riversleigh Manor is a universe within a universe.

When I got to the gates, they glided open like magic.  In fact, it must be magic since at no time during previous visits had I ever seen a human hand or any form of technology operate the gates.  I walked on through and saw Riversleigh’s legendary garden.  Sweet peas and peonies, delphiniums and foxgloves, and white and purple hydrangeas spread an exuberant jumble of color across the grounds.   Oh, and the roses:  I took in a deep breath.  Their sweet, giddy fragrance lifted my dampened spirit.   When I heard that the former estate manager, Sibyl Riversleigh, had left to go on a Grand Tour, I feared that the manor would deteriorate, especially the garden, and I had not wanted to visit here again.  I wanted to remember the manor in all its former splendor.  Then when I received information that Anastasia Riversleigh, Sybil’s twin sister, had taken over the management, and I knew my fears were probably unfounded.   As I surveyed the grounds, I found that was indeed the case.

In the past, my visits were opportunities to write.  Those trips were never without drama, though, since inevitably Arvilla, my Inner Critic, would show up to put a twist my knickers and those of the management with her annoying brassiness.  Since Arvilla only shows up when I write, I decided this would not be a writing retreat.  Time and life had left its debilitating mark on my creative spirit making me incapable of dealing with Arvilla.  This time I would be retreating to Riversleigh simply to rest and have fun.

Screams and howls of laughter flooded across the grounds.  I looked towards a small grove and saw an enormous hammock stretched between two trees.  A full-scale pillow fight was in process with a half-dozen women combatants perilously close to tipping the swinging hammock over and sending them all spilling to ground.  I recognized several of my writing colleagues and smiled.  Some things never change.

I knew the way to my room — #444 on the second floor overlooking the river.  Since there is no need for locks or card-keys at Riversleigh, I had no need of a bellhop to show me there.  When I arrived, the room was open to receive me.   I plopped my bags on the bed and opened them.  I quickly changed into sweat-pants and t-shirt, my uniform for the duration of my visit.

I plugged in my laptop to charge.  I would not be using it for writing; I planned to use it to visit the various social media outlets to catch up with friends.   First, though, I wanted to get down to the kitchen.  I had signed up for a cooking course with Madame Pommesfrites, the head chef at Riversleigh’s Michelin-starred restaurant, and I wanted to meet her before we started the course tomorrow.

When I entered the kitchen, I found that it was empty.  Since it was after luncheon but well before dinner, the staff was on a break. I noticed a stack of papers resting on the end of one the stainless steel counters.  I twisted my head to read the top sheet and discovered that it was the syllabus for the cooking course.  I figured there would be no harm on getting a little preview of the course, so I pulled one off the top and began to study it.

Suddenly, a brilliant light flashed across the kitchen accompanied by a loud pop.  The hanging pots began clanging against each other.   I dropped the paper and turned away from the counter.  My first thought was that some appliance had shorted-out and exploded.   Then I saw her:


“Good afternoon.”

Standing in the center of the Riversleigh kitchen was Lumina, my personal Muse.

To be continued……

LJGloyd (aka Miss Pelican)  2013

Image:  2003, 2013


The Visitor

Some of my writing colleagues have been revisiting their experiences at Riversleigh Manor,  a virtual writers’ retreat associated with the Soul Food Cafe.  I thought I might join in and re-post a story I wrote back in 2006 where we meet Arvilla, my Inner Critic, for the first time.  Arvilla has popped up in a few stories from time-to-time since then.  


The Visitor

My room in Riversleigh Manor is comfortable. It has hardwood floors and a bright berber carpet, recessed bookshelves filled with all my favorite history and art books, fine literature, and religious and philosophical treatises of all sorts. A map of Riversleigh hangs on wall, and I am delighted to discover all the cozy places I could hole up and work. Though the room is furnished with only the most basic pieces—bed, writing table, reading chair, and chest of drawers—there is one item that seems out of place. On the wall over the chest of drawers, hangs a large silver framed mirror with inlaid amber around the glass. Its luxury contrasts the utility of the rest of the room.

I unpacked my sparse belongings—a change of clothes, a few special books, some toiletries, my writing and art supplies. I slid open the French doors and stepped out onto the balcony. I gazed at the valley below and saw the River ribbon its way towards the sea. In the distance I could see the mouth of the River, a vast delta spreading out like a large green lotus, spilling into the Bay.

As I leaned on the railing and tried to compose a poem in my head about the River, I heard a banging sound from my room. I rushed back in and saw the mirror over the chest rising and falling against the wall. As I grabbed the mirror to keep it from shattering, a glow emanated from it, filling the room with a orange-yellow light. I had been warned that Riversleigh was a place of unusual happenings so I wasn’t afraid or even surprised.

Holding the mirror firmly in place, I looked into it and saw it filling with a wall of fire. The flames writhed and shimmered but cast no heat. In the depths of the flames, I could see a dark speck grow larger and rush towards me. It grew into the figure of a woman. Just as the figure filled the entire mirror, a large pop sounded and I released the mirror and fell back on my bed, covering my eyes against a bright blast of light.

Silence enveloped the room and after a moment, I opened my eyes.  “Oh, no, not YOU!”

“Well, hey there, Sugar!”

“What are YOU doing here?”

“What? Can’t a friend drop by and say hello?”

“Yeah, right, like WE’RE friends,” I said as I pulled myself off the bed. Standing in front of the mirror was Arvilla. Tall, platinum blonde and gorgeous, she was dressed in a pin-striped business suit, pearls, and stiletto heels.

“That’s a different look. And what’s with the flaming entrance? That’s over-the-top, even for you!”

“What can I say, Sugar, it’s the twenty-first century and I’ve got to keep with the program.”

“Like I care. You didn’t answer my question—what are you doing here?”

“I heard you were taking a little vacation and I just wanted to stop by to see if I could be of some assistance.” Arvilla strolled across the room, grimacing at the furniture. She plopped herself on the chair and put her feet on my writing desk. She picked up my journal and began thumbing through it.

“I most certainly do NOT need anything from you.” I started picking up my clothes that had fallen to the floor.

“You only brought one set of clothes and no underwear—now that’s rustic, darlin’.”

She was right. How could I have forgotten underwear? “Um, I’ll pick some up at the Gypsy Camp. They have everything anyone would want.”

“Oh, yes, Gypsy underwear. How Bohemian of you. Dressing the part of a writer? You might as well, honey, because that’s as close to being a writer as you’ll ever be.”

“Just who do you think—!”

She opened my journal.  “Oh, looky here…..’I strive to transform reality through my words and images.’” Now, ain’t that a hoot and a holler.”

I rushed over to the table and grabbed the journal out of her hands. “Arvilla, get out! I came ten thousand miles to get away from you. You are NOT going to spoil this for me.”

There was a knock on the door. Glaring at Arvilla, I stomped to the door and yanked it open. Standing there was the Riversleigh Manor concierge backed by two beefy security officers, unsmiling in their black shades.

“Madam, I understand that you have a visitor. As you know, Inner Critics are not welcome on the premises.”

Dang, I’m not here a day and she’s gotten me in trouble already. “Yes, sir, you’re quite right, I understand. My ‘guest’ was just leaving.” I turned to Arvilla.

With a sigh, Arvilla dropped her feet to the floor and stood up. “Oh, alright! Don’t have a hissy fit. You’re just not much fun anymore, are ya, Sugar.”

I pointed toward the mirror. “Go!”

“I can’t get out that way. Where do you think we are? In a Harry Potter movie?”

The room began to vibrate and Arvilla spread her arms out to her sides. “Just wait until you have forty-three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing that you need me to edit.  You’ll come a-runnin’.”

The room filled with intense yellow light and I could see Arvilla’s arms morph into enormous bird’s wings. With a harpy’s shriek, Arvilla began flapping them. She bounded through the French doors and off the balcony. I rushed to the railing and saw Arvilla gliding up the river valley towards the mountains. Looking over her shoulder, she yelled “I’ll be baaaaack……”

“And I’ll be ready for you,” I muttered as I slammed the doors shut.

ljgloyd, originally published 2006