Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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On Libraries


I have a love affair with libraries. When I was a child, my father used to take me to the library twice a week in the evenings and I would often walk there on Saturday mornings as well. The library was my refuge against the chaos that surrounded me.

It was the fount of all knowledge and creative inspiration for me before Google, Pinterest, and Instagram. But even in these days of the internet, the library still serves as access for many people to world wide web and the acquisition of knowledge.  This points to the fact that libraries are great equalizers in our society. Everyone, no matter their status in society, in theory, can have access to knowledge.

Libraries often provide free services to those who do not have the means to pay for them: after-school tutoring, literacy and language learning labs, and technology and job-training programs. There are adult book discussion groups. There are child and youth programs: story-telling hours and college prep courses.

Libraries are the holders and purveyors of our cultures and civilization. Thousands of years ago our ancestors sat around campfires and shared the collective knowledge of the tribe with the next generations. Libraries do the same today and we must improve them in areas where needed and preserve all of them at all costs.

Ljg 2019

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/09/18/rdp-wednesday-library/


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Random Words and Runaway Sentences

I did a writing exercise this morning. I wrote a list of 10 random nouns and a separate list of 10 random verbs and then gave myself 10 minutes to write 10 sentences using both sets of words. Here are the results:

  1. A hot cup of coffee teaches me to slow down and savor each moment.
  2. The child wrote out her name using bits of her alphabet pasta.
  3. The worn out magnetic strip on her ID card could not be read by the scanner.
  4. You’ve heard of “pillow talk”? On that cold morning, the couple engaged in a little sweater talk.
  5. How do we listen to the incessant war drums pounding in our hearts?
  6. A wrinkled scarf sits on her dresser top where she tossed it the night before.
  7. Her old-maid reading glasses look up and meet his slick, stylish sun glasses.
  8. They shuffled the conference room chairs, badgering the too small tables.
  9. The color of the antheriums run juxtaposed against the dull, peeling wallpaper of the room.
  10. The vase she set upon the fireplace mantle was like a praise offered up in church.

The sentences are awkward, but the point in writing them is two-fold. First, it helps me to employ nouns and verbs in new and hopefully vivid ways. Second, these sentences can be a jumping off place for other, more solid writing. The sentence can be pared down, re-arranged, flipped over, allowed to run wild and even thrown away altogether after it has served this purpose.

This exercise is adapted from one that is in Writing Down the Bones, page 147 of the pocket edition.

ljg 2019


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Cleaning Out the Sludge

Last night around midnight I tossed and turned, puddling up in my sheets because it is still too wretchedly hot and humid. Finally, I got up and for some odd reason I felt like getting one of my favorite writing books off the shelf, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, by Natalie Goldberg.  I did not attempt to read it, but I put it aside to pick up and peruse this morning.

In ruffling through its pages this morning, I was inspired to post about the wonders of this little book. Then I faintly recollected maybe having done that already. In searching my archives, I discovered that I had written about this book way back in February of 2013. I was astonished to read what I wrote:  how this book was propelling me write in my journal 10 to 20 minutes a day–every day.

I must admit that the discipline of writing so much every day had escaped me years ago.  The sad truth is that I am a writer who has not been writing. It is no wonder then that my thoughts and ideas have become a jumble. Writing helps me sort things out — even if none of it ever meets the eyes of any reader.

So, this morning I got out a composition book, my favorite black felt-tipped pen, set the timer on my phone to 5 minutes and answered the basic question “How do I feel today?” My answer is not repeatable on a family-friendly blog.  I think that I am not writing because I got a lot of muck backed up inside of me that needs to be cleared away.   Journaling clears the sludge like running a rotor through a blocked sewage line.

The point I am trying to make here is this:    I wrote today for five whole minutes and a bit of the toxic backwater moved a bit.  That’s huge.

——-

If you would like to read the post from 2016, it is here:

ljg (2019)

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/rdp-monday-jumble/


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Casting My Bread

The world is a mess. That’s an understatement, to be sure. Our problems are so overwhelming that it might be easy to fall into despair and think there’s not anything that can be done to fix things. The good news is that though none of us can fix everything in the world, we each can repair our small corner of it and be confident that it does make a difference.

There is an old saying that if you cast your bread upon the waters, it will come back to you many times over. In other words, I fervidly believe that if each of us do good in this world in some small seemingly insignificant way, then the effects are cumulative and magnified, and the results reach places we could never have imagined.

So where do I find my corner in this messed up world? I am finding mine in a garden. If you have followed me for a while, you know that I volunteer in a community garden that grows food for a local pantry that distributes to those in need. My creaky old knees don’t allow me to do a lot of heavy lifting or digging, but I can harvest, pull weeds, and water.

This work in a community setting has had an effect in my personal realm.   I am eating more healthfully by adopting a more plant-based diet. No, I have not become a vegan —yet— but relying more on plants for food is better for the environment.

Is my working in the garden going to eliminate hunger and poverty?  Well, at least for one person or two it may. Is my not eating meat going to end the global climate crisis?  No, but it may lead to one less cow emitting methane to the atmosphere– which might put a tiny, tiny dent in it.

Call me Pollyanna-ish, but inaction on my part is not an option for me. I am going to keep casting that bread.

LJG 2019

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/09/09/rdp-monday-fervid/

 

 


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Story vs. Plot: What I Learned from The Lord of the Rings

‘Well, I’m back,’ says Sam at the end of The Return of the King. I have taken the last five weeks to read the three volumes that comprise Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The consequence is that I have scrapped the entire month of August in terms of doing any blogging or other kinds of writing.  So I am back now from my summer reading and I hope that I can provide you with something useful from that time.

In the last almost 20 years, it seems that no one can read LOTR without comparing it with the cinematic releases.  No, I am not going to do a book versus film comparison.  Both are brilliant in relation to their respective media.   However, I have had up until this morning a pet-peeve with both of them.  It seems to me in both the film and book versions the endings are just way too drawn out.  In The Return of the King book, there are six more long chapters after the destruction of the ring. And in the film I think there are just about as many– if not more– scenes following the same event. Because I consider J.R.R. Tolkien and the screenwriters of the film to be gifted in their respective crafts, this makes me wonder what I am missing.    In casting about for an answer, I serendipitously stumbled across this video this morning.   The issue is for me that I lacked a proper understanding of the difference between STORY and PLOT.

If you are a writer of fiction– a story-teller– this video may be helpful to you.

(Note:  Another serendipitous moment:  today is 46 years since Tolkien ‘sailed into the West.’) 

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/09/03/rdp-tuesday-scrap/


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Enough Is Enough

It is my intention today to declare that I have had enough. I am sharing this statement issued last week (before the latest massacres) from the leaders of the Washington National Cathedral.

“The escalation of racialized rhetoric from the President of the United States has evoked responses from all sides of the political spectrum. On one side, African American leaders have led the way in rightfully expressing outrage. On the other, those aligned with the President seek to downplay the racial overtones of his attacks, or remain silent.

As faith leaders who serve at Washington National Cathedral ¬– the sacred space where America gathers at moments of national significance – we feel compelled to ask: After two years of President Trump’s words and actions, when will Americans have enough?

As Americans, we have had such moments before, and as a people we have acted. Events of the last week call to mind a similarly dark period in our history: “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. … You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”

That was U.S. Army attorney Joseph Welch on June 9, 1954, when he confronted Senator Joseph McCarthy before a live television audience, effectively ending McCarthy’s notorious hold on the nation. Until then, under the guise of ridding the country of Communist infiltration, McCarthy had free rein to say and do whatever he wished. With unbridled speech, he stoked the fears of an anxious nation with lies; destroyed the careers of countless Americans; and bullied into submissive silence anyone who dared criticize him.

In retrospect, it’s clear that Welch’s question was directed less toward McCarthy and more to the nation as a whole. Had Americans had enough? Where was our sense of decency?

We have come to accept a level of insult and abuse in political discourse that violates each person’s sacred identity as a child of God. We have come to accept as normal a steady stream of language and accusations coming from the highest office in the land that plays to racist elements in society. This week, President Trump crossed another threshold. Not only did he insult a leader in the fight for racial justice and equality for all persons; not only did he savage the nations from which immigrants to this country have come; but now he has condemned the residents of an entire American city. Where will he go from here? Make no mistake about it, words matter. And, Mr. Trump’s words are dangerous.

These words are more than a “dog-whistle.” When such violent dehumanizing words come from the President of the United States, they are a clarion call, and give cover, to white supremacists who consider people of color a sub-human “infestation” in America. They serve as a call to action from those people to keep America great by ridding it of such infestation. Violent words lead to violent actions.

When does silence become complicity? What will it take for us all to say, with one voice, that we have had enough? The question is less about the president’s sense of decency, but of ours. As leaders of faith who believe in the sacredness of every single human being, the time for silence is over. We must boldly stand witness against the bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and xenophobia that is hurled at us, especially when it comes from the highest offices of this nation. We must say that this will not be tolerated. To stay silent in the face of such rhetoric is for us to tacitly condone the violence of these words. We are compelled to take every opportunity to oppose the indecency and dehumanization that is racism, whether it comes to us through words or actions.

There is another moment in our history worth recalling. On January 21, 2017, Washington National Cathedral hosted an interfaith national prayer service, a sacred tradition to honor the peaceful transfer of political power. We prayed for the President and his young Administration to have “wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties that they may serve all people of this nation, and promote the dignity and freedom of every person.”

That remains our prayer today for us all.

The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington
The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral
The Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas, Canon Theologian of Washington National Cathedral”

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/08/06/rdp-tuesday-intent/


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There and Back Again

I need a little vacation. I need to get out of Dodge for a spell. I need to go someplace where I do not have to worry about anything other than avoiding orcs and a few grumpy dwarves.

A couple of days ago I commenced a re-reading of the Lord of the Rings. Yes, yes, I am a Ringer. I’ve read the trilogy before, as well as the Hobbit.   I’ve seen all the movies—the extended director’s cut with all the bonus material —many times over. I’ve read parts of the Silmarillion. I have not read Children of Hurin, The Unfinished Tales, and the Middle Earth histories.  My plan is to get through all of these if I can.

My journey may take just a couple of weeks, several months, or a year. Circumstances may draw me back to the real world, but I hope that I can go there and back again before that happens.

“I’m having an adventure!” — Bilbo (from the first Hobbit movie) .

Note: if you’re a Ringer too, you may be interested in going to the resource page at the Tolkien Society.  I’m like a kid in a toy store there: https://www.tolkiensociety.org/links/

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/08/03/rdp-saturday-commence/


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Melt-in-Your-Mouth Goodness

My creativity took a detour through the kitchen today. I have been seeing posts and videos all over the Internet for “avocado toast “, so I had to try it out for myself.    I had the bread, an avocado, cream cheese, harissa paste, a lime, and Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel seasoning.    And there you have it:

LJG 2019

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/07/19/rdp-friday-melt/