Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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She’s Not Glinda and She’s Stalking Me

“Wake up. “

I rolled towards the wall and buried my face in a pillow. 

“Wake up!”

I flung the comforter off and sat up in bed.   

“What!?  Leave me alone!”

I switched on the lamp next to my bed.  There was no one in the room. The big blue numbers on my nightstand clock glowed 4:37 am.

I tried to go back to sleep, but after several minutes, I knew it was pointless so I reached for my phone and started thumbing through my social media feeds.  I must have dozed off because the next thing I felt was a vibration on my chest and heard the muffled sound of my cell phone’s alarm.

I  was certain that I had disabled the alarm before I went to bed last night. My plan had been to sleep in for once on a Saturday morning.  I was not surprised though.  This could only mean one thing. She was back.

“Stop messing with my electronics!”  I muttered.  “I hate it when she does that.” I sighed and rolled out of bed.  After making a quick pit stop in the bathroom, I stumbled into the kitchen.

She was standing there with her head inside my refrigerator.  “Don’t tell me you were planning on having cold pizza for breakfast.”  

“Arvilla, what do you want?” And shoved  a K cup into the machine and jabbed the button.  I could not deal with her without a big cup of Columbia first.

Arvilla shut the refrigerator and plopped down in a chair.  “I think you know. “

Her voice made me wince. Most of my creative friends had muses who were lovely ethereal beings who sprinkled inspiration like magic dust— someone like Glinda, the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz.  My muse, Arvilla, is a middle-aged brassy redhead with a nasally whine and the personality of the Wicked Witch of the West.  She also did double-duty as my inner critic.  And: my other friends’ muses don’t stalk them.

She read my mind. Literally. “I am not into sprinkling fairy dust and I do not stalk. You have got to do the work,” she pronounced.  “You’ve read enough self-help books for creatives so you know what you need to do. “

I reached for a box of organic granola and shook it at her. She shrugged her shoulders. “You need to get out of the house,” she said, “and do some fieldwork. “

I perked up.  I thought she was going to nag me to sit down and write.

“I thought you might like that. You, my dear, are a little constipated.”  She nodded her head at the box of cereal. “And that isn’t going to help you get unblocked.”  

I glanced out the kitchen window at my yard and the two large magnolia trees in it.   “I’ve got so many chores to do. I need to rake leaves for one thing. “

“What leaves?”   I looked again. There were no leaves under the trees.   “And don’t even mention your laundry. You have enough underwear and towels for one more day. Good grief,  you sure do know how to procrastinate.“

I opened the refrigerator and pulled out a box of almond milk. As I poured it over my cereal I said, “So what’s the plan? “

“Bring your camera, a notebook and pen, and your inventory list of colored pencils.”   I arched an eyebrow at her. 

“Trust me.  I’ll meet you at Blick’s in at 9. Don’t be late. “

*****

Right on time, I entered the art supply store.  I found her on the drawing aisle.  I consulted my list and reached for a pencil in the open stock bin.  “No, no. You don’t need any more burnt umber or yellow ocher. Ghastly colors.  How boring. Get the spring green. Oh, better yet, the lime green. “

“Lime green? When am I ever going to use a lime green pencil?’

“Trust me.”  Going shopping with Arvilla is always an interesting experience.

A few minutes later we were in my car.  “Home?”

“Not yet.  The art store was the appetizer.  We still have the main course coming.”

Arvilla directed me and soon we were speeding south on the freeway.

“Get off at the next exit. “   I immediately knew where we were going.

“The botanical gardens?”   Arvilla just smiled.

I have always liked the botanical gardens, a place where I could get away and unplugged for a few hours. I have never been there in May, but I knew the colors would be glorious.

The garden did not disappoint me. Every conceivable flower that could grow in this area was in full bloom.  The rose garden was particularly vibrant. Trees, leaves and other foliage were thick and lush from all the recent winter rain.  They displayed every possible shade of green, including, yes, lime green.

I toured the vegetable patch, the succulents and cacti, the herb garden and the indigenous plant section, enthusiastically snapping pictures and getting a feel for my new camera’s features.  I started down a path towards the large pond in the center of the park and the banyan grove.

“No, we’re done. Time to go.”  Arvilla was suddenly at my side. I jumped.

“Stop doing that!”  I glared at her.  “And why are we done?  We haven’t been here a full hour.”

“Because I know you.  You’ll hike all over this place and snap a few hundred pictures.  Then you’ll be too tired when you get home to download your pictures and they’ll just sit on your camera for three months which will make me have to come back and kick you in the butt again.”

She had me pegged.

“Fine.”  I started hiking up the hill towards the exit.

“We’re going to stop for a few minutes at the gift shop.”

“Why?”

“Just do it.”

A few minutes later I arrived at the garden’s gift shop.  Arvilla was already there, seated on a bench and filing her nails as she waited.  I settled down next to her.

Arvilla pointed her nail file towards a rack of succulents on sale.  Next to them was terracotta bust that looked just like Arvilla.    “I know the sculptor. That one turned out pretty good, if I do say so. She really captured my essence.”

“You know the sculptor?”

“Well, of course.  You don’t think you’re my only client, do you?”

“Um, I guess I never really thought about it…. um, well, now what?

Arvilla sighed and put down her file.  “Good grief, do I have to do everything?  Get out your notebook and start brainstorming.”

“But…”

“But what?  This is why I brought you here– so your pump can get primed.”   Arvilla stood up and looked into the distance.  “Uh-oh.  I gotta go.  There’s a poet having a meltdown in the Walmart parking lot.  I need to do some consoling.  See you later.”  Arvilla vanished.

“You never ‘console’ me,” I grumbled as I pulled out my notebook from my backpack.

As my pen started moving through the journal, ideas started pouring faster than I could write them down.  I considered the images.   I could use many of the photos I shot simply as they were— as photographic compositions. I definitely could use most of them for reference in creating drawings, watercolor paintings, and elements in digital compositions.  Then poetic phrases started forming in the back of my mind as well as themes for essays on creativity, spirituality and environmental activism. History, theology, philosophy, and ideas for funny short stories all presented themselves in momentary glimpses across my mind’s eye.  I scribbled notes in the book until I finally slowed down and stopped.  I felt light and refreshed.

I clicked my pen shut and shoved it and the notebook into my bag.

“Now…” Arvilla’s voice seemed to be coming from the terracotta bust. “…go home, take one of these ideas and create something”. I nodded.

“And if I find you screwing around on the internet, I will knock out your WiFi for a week.”

“You know I hate it when you do that!”

Arvilla chuckled.

 

ljg 2019   Today’s Ragtag prompt is “stalk“.


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Urban Garden Log #4: A New Venture

Red Pepper Bug Deterrent

A former rector of my church, many years ago, had a vision of ripping up the manicured lawn on the church campus and planting a garden to provide fresh produce for a local food pantry that serves the poor of our community.  This garden came to be and has been an on-going venture for many years.  The rector went on to other endeavors and left the garden in the hands of the congregation.

This morning I joined the group that tends the garden.  I am an amateur:   I know nothing more about gardening except that you need good light, healthy soil, the right amount of water and a lot of energy. The garden manager, who (in her own words) has “a passion for the earth”, is patient and eager to teach individuals like me.  What I learn, I plan to implement in my own garden.

So I had my first lesson today: using a natural homemade concoction made of habanero peppers to keep unwanted critters away from the baby plants.  For nearly two hours I spritzed and sprayed all manner of vegetable seedlings with red pepper pest deterrent.  Other volunteers were working on harvesting seeds for future planting while others were spreading compost, weeding and watering. It was truly a community effort. Another marvel was the diversity of the group.  Women, men, and children of all shades and hues were working together in harmony to heal the planet and help the poor.

You can’t do church any better than that in my opinion.

ljg 2019


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Wandering

I recently read Keri Smith’s book The Wander Society, another of countless books on how to jump start the creative process. The author promotes the practice of “wandering” through the world, both literally and figuratively, and learning to mindfully observe what is discovered.  The book’s description at the Amazon website describes “…the act of wandering, or unplanned exploring, as a way of life.” At Goodreads I gave the book only 3 stars simply because this is not an original notion. That criticism being made, I quickly realized that I have been negligent in this very form of creative self-care.

It has been raining quite regularly for many weeks, but this morning the clouds cleared and the sun broke through. So I grabbed my camera, hopped in my car and began to wander.  I ended up being entertained by a pair of white rabbits in a vegetable garden, joining a gathering of members of a bread baking guild as they made pizza in a wood-burning oven, roamed around the outside and inside of an old church, paused for a few minutes in a Zen meditation room, drove through a university, stopped at a library, and came home to a steaming bowl of home-made beef stew.

I visually documented my wandering.  Here are a few of my images:

ljgloyd (c) 2019


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Some Would Say It’s Not Art, But That’s Not the Point

In this coming new year, one of my goals had been to do some sort of sketching each day.  I have been hesitating in making a commitment to this goal because of the self-doubt that comes whenever I try to create in a medium in which I am not particularly adept.  I know that this lack of confidence would become too burdensome and I would quickly drop the practice.

Then it occurred to me to try “zentangle” drawing because of an article I recently stumbled upon in Psychology Today on the psychological benefits of this type of doodling.  Some might say that such drawings are not really “art,” but the final product is not the point of the activity.   The point in creating these pen and paper doodles is to relax and de-stress. This is really the whole reason of my making this an evening after-work exercise. It has been a stressful 2018 and I don’t foresee 2019 being any different.   So today, I have been exploring the basic techniques. Below is a video on what I want to someday achieve and after that is a basic tutorial I watched this morning.

Zentangle Time Lapse (about 2 minutes):

And a tutorial in case you are interested too (about 30 minutes):


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More Reasons to Write Every Day

I came across this TedX video about the benefits of a daily writing practice.  Since life recently threw me a curve ball, I have fallen out the of that practice.  This video has motivated me to pick it up again and make it a part of my daily spiritual routine– just like prayer, meditation and yoga.   If you are a writer — or even if you are not– I encourage you to take a few minutes and listen to this writer’s entire presentation.  She really provides some practical advice for developing a daily writing routine.

 


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Living Mindfully in an Old House


It is Christmas Day, and I am now in a new home.  The house is old and has a lot of quirks, and I have had to learn how to approach those activities which I formerly performed in a mindless manner with new care and consideration. For example, I have to remember not to operate more than one appliance at a time in the kitchen or I will blow a fuse. Not flip a circuit breaker– but blow a fuse– which I don’t know how to fix. Everything I do in this old house I must approach with slowness and gentleness.

On this Christmas, I find myself approaching all areas of my life with a little more slowness, mindfulness, and gentleness.   I find myself meditating more, praying more, being more grateful for the simple things in life — like a roof over my head even when I wonder if it will leak when it rains.

I think it has something to do with the season when Grace came into this world in the form of a Child.  This time of the year always makes me reflective in this way.   Now the trick is carrying this mindful practice beyond the holiday and into the new year.   Can I do it?   I aim to try.

HMerry Christmas, everyone.  Blessings to you all.


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When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Out the Food Processor

I’ve been stressed out this week. And when I get stressed out I like to cook. Obviously, there’s some psychological connection between food and stress, but I won’t go into that now. Needless to say I was engaging in a little “self care for the creative” this morning as I made this batch of harissa,  a North African condiment made of dried chilies, spices, garlic and oil.

My point here in mentioning this is that as creatives, we need to take the occasional mental or emotional vacation, if we can’t take the real thing.  Knit, fix cars, read books, go hiking, garden, do whatever it takes to clear the decks and prime the pump.


Here is the recipe I used.  I used all guajillos, the juice of half a lemon, and fewer cloves of garlic.


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Hearing My Voice in the Din

I have not posted about drumming in the last few months. This is because I have not been to my favorite drum circle in the last few months.  When friends ask “How’s the drum circle?  Still going?”,  I’ve been telling them that I’ve been too busy, or had a commitment elsewhere, or the hot weather was not to my liking, and so on.

The truth is I stopped going mainly because I felt intimidated.

Some of the people who regularly attend the circle are professional musicians. Several of them specialize in Latin jazz or traditional African drum rhythms. I find these rhythms difficult to ease into.  I just can’t nail those syncopated beats.  I felt like I was messing up their drumming because I could not get this.  I had convinced myself that I was not a good drummer.

During my hiatus from the drum circle,  I continued to drum with some other musician friends who play and sing contemporary folk/pop/rock arrangements. I get enough affirmation from them to know that I’m not completely hopeless. Those arrangements are my style, it seems.

I returned to the drum circle today because I missed the people there. But I held back, finding the base beats and softly playing around them so as not to throw off the other drummers.  Mostly I sat there and just enjoyed their playing.

The take away from this lesson is that I need to learn the nature of my own creative expression—what I enjoy, where my strengths reside— and be comfortable enough to not be intimidated by other Creatives who might be better in some respect. My creative genre is primarily writing. I need to know my style. I need to write in that style with no regard of what critics, both my inner and outer, think or say.

If someone doesn’t like my style of writing, so be it. I am going to keep on writing anyway. If my critics make a racket because they don’t like my writing, I’ll quietly persist nevertheless, hearing my voice in the din.


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Salads, Tough Cookies, and that Still, Small Voice

I have encountered many an article, blog post, and news commentary that state that we are forgetting the fine art of compromise. We see this uncompromising attitude everywhere from our personal relationships to our legislators. Compromise, to some, seems to be a sign of weakness. The lack of willingness to see a middle road that satisfies everyone often leads to a lot of strife and nastiness and most certainly stagnation in the advancing of any personal or political agenda.

That being said there are times when we cannot compromise. For me, I cannot compromise on those disciplines that help me live a healthier life. It would be easy at times to compromise and tell myself that it is okay to eat “just a few” of those fries that came with the sandwich I ordered as long as I don’t eat them all. Being uncompromising means that I send the fries back and get a salad instead — no matter what the rest of my dinner companions say.

There is another area wherein I do not compromise: heeding the voice of my intuition. Sometimes I find myself in situations where I am being pushed or pulled in a direction that my “gut” tells me is not good for me. When I find myself in such situations, first I examine it and myself to see if I might indeed be acting stubbornly. I am more than willing to change my mind if the situation warrants it. However, if after doing so,  if my intuition is still screaming at me not to comply, then I need to heed it.

There may be nothing inherently wrong with what I am being asked to do; it might even be the noblest of tasks, but if my intuition tells me that this is something I should not do, then I won’t. Period. End of discussion.

That “still small voice” inside of me is an uncompromisingly tough cookie — and so am I.

 

ljg 2018