I just could not be too serious on such a gorgeous day:
ljg (c) 2017
I just could not be too serious on such a gorgeous day:
ljg (c) 2017
As if I didn’t have enough to do with the full-time day job, other commitments outside of the day job, and my creative endeavors, I got a bug to learn how to play the strumstick after seeing the video below. A strumstick is a type of zither, similar to a dulcimer. It looks (and sounds) like a wonderful way to relax and de-stress. I ordered it yesterday. It should come tomorrow. Check out the video to see how it is played and what it sounds like. Can you tell I’m excited?
ljg (C) 2017
First let me provide some historical context regarding my process of making resolutions:
Over the years, I have made resolutions only to discard them shortly– if not immediately–after I made them. In other years, I declared that I wouldn’t make New Year’s resolutions because I have such a dismal track record in keeping them. And once I even made a declaration that I would not be bound to making resolutions just on New Year’s Day but rather to make resolutions throughout the year.
None of these strategies were quite satisfactory because I kept forgetting this important fact: Life is unpredictable and is always throwing up detour signs along my way. Sometimes the universe will say “Aha, you want to go that way but I want you to go to that way.”
Sometimes those derailments are painful. This year I had a family crisis that consumed so much of my time and emotional energy that I did not get to all of the activities that I had planned. In fact they seemed stupid and shallow. Contrarily, some derailments have been pleasant. I had resolved to buy a new camera and spend more time engaged in photography. I never got around to it because of the aforementioned crisis. Instead, Providence recently dropped a drum in my lap and I have been exploring and enjoying this mode of expression much to my benefit.
Therefore, since life loves to throw wrenches into my plans, I have decided that this year I will incorporate broader boundaries to allow for the tangents my resolutions will inevitably follow.
So here it is: I resolve for 2017:
I will let you know at the end of the year how this all worked out.
Happy New Year.
ljgloyd (c) 2017
I originally wrote this in 2008 but it seems appropriate for the Daily Post’s prompt Eerie……
Over the Hill with Grandpa
My grandpa told me this story when I was a kid. Most of his adult life, my grandpa worked for the movie studios– MGM, RKO, Warner Brothers. At various times he worked for them as a horse wrangler, grip, and greensman. Sometimes he just did whatever needed doing on the set.
One day, back in the 1930’s, he was asked to pick up a truck in Hollywood and deliver it over the hill to the WB facilities in the Valley. Now Grandpa had a grandfather named James who frequently visited him. On this particular day, James joined Grandpa for the ride over the hill. Back in 1930’s there were no freeways as there are today, and travel to and from the Valley required negotiating narrow, twisting canyon roads. The route they took that day was one of the canyon roads — either Laurel Canyon or Cold Water Canyon Road–I don’t know which. Anyway, as James sat in the passenger side of the truck, my grandpa began the ascent up the road. James was quiet, as was his nature, but just before the truck reached the top of the grade, James turned to Grandpa and said “You need to check the brakes before you start that downhill grade. You won’t make it if you don’t.”
Grandpa had always followed his grandfather’s advice so he pulled over to the side of the road. He got out and slid under the truck for a look. Sure enough, there was a problem with the brakes, and had he proceeded down the grade more than likely they would have failed and he would have careened out of control.
I don’t remember what Grandpa said about how he got the truck down the hill. I don’t remember because I got stuck on what Grandpa said next about James riding along with him. You see, Great-Grandpa James was dead and had been for many, many years.
ljgloyd 2008, 2016
There is a plaque on Olvera Street that names the city wherein I grew up as El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles — The Village of our Lady, Queen of the Angels.
Look at any map and you will see it criss-crossed with streets named after saints: Santa Monica, San Vicente, San Pedro — to name just a few. The names seem to reflect — at least to me– a mystical and transcendent quality of this city.
With Angels Watching
Would it be that all the saints, all the angels, even the Queen of Heaven herself looks down upon this city?
What would they see? What would they do?
Yes, they would weep over the poverty and crime, over the homeless seeking to make a living.
And of course they would tremble with us when the ground shakes or the canyons burn.
Would they rejoice with the whales as they peek from the sea or sing with the coyotes in dark sycamore forests?
Did they watch over the mammoths in ancient days? Apparently not, it would seem.
Would they be in awe of the edifices we puny humans have built?
Would they hold back the rain but let the snowfall?
Perhaps they would.
I don’t know what angels think, but I know they are here,
and they watch.
Images and poem by ljgloyd (2016)
“Shut Up and Be Open” may sound like a contradiction. Not really. I realized this as I was perusing some blogs at the Daily Post this morning. When I am considering responding to a prompt from any writers’ group, I like to see what other writers say on a topic, partly to make sure I don’t accidentally repeat what another has already written, but mainly because I like to hear what others say. Not everyone does this. I don’t always do this. A lot of times it is just because I am too busy. But I have to admit that sometimes I just don’t want to hear anyone else.
How this is in other realms of life: we don’t want to be open to new or different ideas, yet we want to project to the world our feelings, our ideas, our agenda. This has become more apparent to me over the last few months — and especially in the last few days — as I watch the news outlets. You have one screeching politician lambasting another bellicose, pontificating buffoon — who then in turn does the same thing back. You see panels of pundits on the news shows shouting over each other while the moderators ask absurd questions with the seeming intent of pouring more gasoline on the fire. No one is listening to each other, no one is open to even the possibility of accepting another point of view. It is then I start shouting at my television “Stop it! What is wrong with you people! Can’t you all just shut up for one minute and be open to what the other is saying?” It doesn’t make for good ratings, I guess, if everyone is civil to each other.
Now, I cannot do anything about what others do or say, whether they are listening or not. I can do something about myself. I am going to make it a daily practice to read or listen with close attention to at least one person who has a different point of view.
I am not going to argue with that person if I disagree. I don’t have to heed them. But I will be open. I am just going to shut up and listen.
The NaPoWriMo prompt of the day is write “a poem inspired by fortune cookies.” This was fun. I have to say that I wrote this at 3 a.m. this morning so I wonder if that had anything to do with the fun-factor. (This post is also in line with the Daily Post’s prompt.)
Somewhere between the Lo Mein and the Egg Fu Young They Fell in Love
A rain-slick night,
Red lanterns hang over a dark wooded booth.
Imperial Dinner for two.
Crab Rangoon and spring rolls.
Don’t forget the hot mustard.
Kung pao chicken and sweet-and-sour pork.
Stir fried broccoli in oyster sauce.
Their hands touch over the fried rice.
Moo shu pork and ginger beef.
Steaming cups of jasmine tea.
She giggles at his jokes.
Time slows down, eyes lock.
Fortune cookie say:
“You will marry the person across the table.”
Fortune cookie say:
Ljgloyd c 2016
Image courtesy of Morguefile.com
Admittedly, I am not at all satisfied with today’s poem. NaPoWriMo ‘s prompt is to create a “found poem” by lifting an excerpt from a book’s index, page numbers and all, and call it a poem. I am not entirely against found poetry. The book spine exercise I did a couple of days ago is a form of found poetry. But at least I wove it together with words of my own to create a somewhat reasonable narrative. But this index thing? No. This is not poetry in my opinion. It’s not even writing. But being the good sport that I am, I grabbed a couple of books off my shelf to see if I could use anything from their indices or tables of content as inspiration. The books I am using are: Water from an Ancient Well: Celtic Spirituality for Modern Life and The Heroine’s Journey. I mostly used the chapter titles of these books. In addition, to challenge myself, I am using the word from The Daily Post’s prompt-of-the-day to provide the overarching theme.
Here’s what I got:
She falls beneath the waves of sleep
to the realm of dreams and visions
to travel a road of trials
in quest of her father and mother,
and to slay the ogre tyrants
that plague her during the day.
Creatures of grace arise from the deep
to guide her to circles of strength
finding rest within her soul.
She finds her family, HER circles of strength,
uniting to battle the monsters within
until there are no more to slay.
ljgloyd (c) 2016
Today’s NaPoWrimo prompt is a challenging one: “to write a poem in which you closely describe an object or place, and then end with a much more abstract line that doesn’t seemingly have anything to do with that object or place, but which, of course, really does.” The challenge to the reader is to discern the connection of the twist at the end. (This post is pulling double duty as a response to the Daily Post’s prompt.)
At the Beach
Lacy white foam splays over dark wet sand.
Soaking in, it sizzles like a steak on a grill.
Golden sparkles on sapphire water, blinding to the eye.
A wad of newspaper tumbles in the breeze getting
caught up in a tangle of wilting sea kelp.
Did I remember to take the laundry out of the dryer?
LJGloyd (c) 2015, 2016
This is a repost of a very short story I wrote last year.
Old Tilly sat on a rusted lawn chair outside her trailer. A lead-gray sky pressed down on her, and she listened to thunder rumble in the distance. She stared at the heap of dried watermelon seeds she had spat out the day before on the ground next to the chair. She sniffed the wind that had whipped up and wondered what trouble would visit her home today. Tilly turned her attention to the small curved knife she held in one hand and resumed scraping it against the whetstone she held in the other. Her plan had been to stalk the field behind the trailer park for wild herbs to harvest, but with the sky darkening and going green, Tilly knew she would not have time before the storm hit. Her customers would just have to wait.
Tilly glanced up from her work and noticed a figure down the gravel driveway. Her tired eyes could not make out the person, but she knew. She could always feel Arabelle coming towards her. The child had an energy that announced her coming from a mile away, quite literally. Tilly frowned. She could tell that Arabelle was sad and angry.
Tilly sighed and put her knife and whetstone on the ground. As Arabelle approached, Tilly grabbed the edge of the lawn chair to keep from being pushed back by the child’s presence. She noted Arabelle’s swollen, red-rimmed eyes and the wrinkled brown shopping bag she clutched to her chest. Tilly assumed that she must have gone home already after school. She had changed out of her school uniform into jeans and a black T-shirt. This child wears far too much black, Tilly thought. Arabelle dropped the bag in front of Tilly.
“Valerian root. I know you needed some, and I saw some growing in the ditch along the edge of the wheat field on the Masonville Road.”
Tilly picked up the bag and opened it. “Would you look at these. Nice ones. It took a good eye to find these. Thank you much.” Tilly crumpled the mouth of the bag shut. “So how was school today?”
Arabella said nothing. With the toe of her ragged slipper, Tilly pushed an upended bucket towards Arabelle. “Sit. Talk to me.” Arabelle plunked herself down on the bucket. The muffled sound of distant thunder rolled over them. She began to fidget with the end of her long brown braid. “Mr. Hendrix, my teacher in science class, was telling us about Saturn. He was talking about the rings and what they were made up and stuff. But he was wrong. I know because I read all about it in one of my dad’s magazines…”
“So you told ‘im, huh?”
“Bet he didn’t like that much, did he?” Tilly cackled. She did not think much of Dan Hendrix, a wet-behind-the- ears college boy whose only pleasure in life seemed to be in making the locals look and feel like idiots.
“He told me not to be such a-know-it-all. Then everybody in the class laughed. Then at the lunch kids started saying I was stupid.”
Tilly leaned forward in her chair and began to shake leathery finger at Arabelle. “Now you just listen here, girl. You are NOT stupid. In fact, you’re one of the sharpest people I know. Don’t you listen to them. You shine and people living in the dark sometimes just don’t like it.”
The fact of the matter was that Arabelle wasn’t just sharp– she was stunningly brilliant. Arabelle had the uncanny ability to observe and learn from every aspect of her world, particularly the natural world. She had an intuitive sense of how animals moved through the forest, where the best herbs and plants grew, and how the weather would turn. All of nature seemed to converge in her heart, and she expressed it back to the world in beautiful drawings, paintings, and carvings of wood and clay. She was an artist of extraordinary ability.
This did not surprise Tilly. Lenny Gardner, Arabelle’s father, a jack-of-all-trades and a local who had never graduated from high school, was an artist himself. Between doing odd jobs for his neighbors and the sale of a few of his sculptures to tourists driving through town, he made a modest living for himself and his daughter. Arabelle’s mother, a party girl with the short attention span, had abandoned them both when Arabelle was a baby. Lenny had done well to keep his brilliant daughter engaged through books, music, and art. He even got her a microscope. Arabelle responded by drawing, painting and carving the things she saw in the world and through the gifts her father had given her. There were times, thought Tilly, that the energy of the natural world came forth not only in her artwork but through her own life force.
Arabelle’s gifts, though, made her an outcast, a misfit, a person, as Tilly had just reminded her, who scared the bejeezus out of everyone. Tilly’s calling, she believed, was to guide the girl in continuing to manifest beauty and light and not to reflect the darkness and ugliness thrown at her.
“And don’t you think on what Dan Hendrix says. He’s not as smart as he thinks he is.” Tilly giggled. “You know those letters that come after college people’s names? Ph.D.? All that means are the words ‘piled high and deep’!”
A faint smile came to Arabelle’s face. “Mr. Hendrix doesn’t have a PhD. He has an M.A.”
“M.A.? You don’t wanna know what that means.” Tilly threw her head back and began to laugh. Arabelle’s shook her head and chuckled.
They both turned towards the sound of crunching gravel. A dusty black pick-up bounced along the trailer park driveway and came to a stop in front of Tilly’s trailer. The driver’s door squeaked open and a middle-aged man with a beer belly slid out and slammed the door. He hitched up his pants and belched as he sauntered over to Tilly.
“I’m here for my order. ”
“And what order would that be, Pete? ”
Pete shuffled back-and-forth on his feet. “You know good and well… For the wife…for her, um, lady-troubles.”
“I seem to recollect that now. Coming right up.” She grunted as she hoisted herself off the lawn chair, clutching closed the front of her ragged house-dress. “Be just a minute”. She waddled to the steps of the trailer door and slowly climbed the steps. She disappeared into the darkness of the trailer.
Pete leaned up against the power pole next to the trailer, crossing his arms. His gaze swung around and leveled on Arabelle. She stared back at him.
“What are you looking at?”, he snarled.
Arabelle lowered her eyes.
“You’re Gardner’s kid, aren’t you? You tell your lazy good-for-nothing old man that he better finish mending the fences around my paddock or he can give back the advance I gave him. He should spend more time working and less time in — what does he call it?– his ‘stoo-dee-oh’.”
Arabelle got to her feet. Pete shook his head in disgust. “Calls himself an artist. Only city people would be fool enough to buy his crap. And I hear you’re no better — scratchin’ in your pad of fancy paper, think in’ you’re better ‘n us.”
Suddenly, a brilliant flash of white light enveloped them followed immediately by a shattering crash of thunder. The metal in the trailer vibrated, and the air seemed to buzz with electricity. Pete flattened himself against the side of the trailer.
“Whoa! That was close. Hey! Hurry up in there. I need to get home before this storm breaks.”
Tilly was already emerging from the trailer, breathing heavily as she navigated down the steps. She tossed a white plastic shopping bag to Pete. Then she reached over and cupped Arabelle’s chin in her hand. She looked hard at her.
“Don’t, Arabelle. You are better than that.”
Arabelle’s eyes filled with tears and she nodded. Tilly patted her on the shoulder as she turned to Pete. She snapped her fingers and spread open her hand towards him. “Forget something?”
Pete scowled as he reached into the breast pocket of his denim jacket. He pulled out a twenty and handed it towards Tilly.
“The deal was for forty.”
“Forty? Are you out of your ever-loving mind? I am not paying $40 for a bag of lawn clippings.”
Tilly stepped up to Pete and whispered. “If you don’t pay me what you owe me I will let everyone know that my herbs are really for YOUR little problem.”
Pete reached up and shoved Tilly in the chest, sending her backward against the side of the trailer. “You say a word about that and I will have the county come out and condemn this thing you call a home. You’ll be out on the street you crazy old bat. ”
Tilly simply stared at Pete, her watery blue eyes filled with rage.
Arabelle screamed, “Stop it! “.
Pete glanced at Arabelle, then back to Tilly. Finally, he stepped back from Tilly, reached into his pocket, and pulled out an additional bill. He tossed the money at Tilly’s feet.
“Crazy old bat” he muttered.
As he turned towards the pickup, he looked up at the sky and gasped. The clouds had grown darker, overlaid with a sickly green cast. About a half mile away, he could see a funnel cloud whipping its tail back-and-forth as it sought to find a place to touchdown. Pete cursed and yanked open the door. In a matter of seconds, the pickup was rocketing down the gravel road.
“Arabelle! Don’t do it!” The wind nearly drowned out her words.
“It’s too late! I can’t stop it! It’s too big!”
“Then come inside! Quick!”
“No! I can lead it away!” She spun around and started running.
“Wait!,” shouted Tilly, but he words blew away with the wind.
All that evening and into the next morning, Tilly huddled in her trailer and prayed that Arabelle would be safe and that no one would die in the storm. In the middle of the next afternoon, when her electricity was finally restored, she switched on the television. She heaved a sigh of relief as the newscasters reported that in spite of the severity of the storms, no one had been killed and very few buildings had been lost.
As the newscast was wrapping up, one more story was reported: “As we close this evening’s telecast, we want to show you this odd phenomenon in a wheat field near Masonville.” Tilly smiled as she viewed the aerial footage of an intricate pattern of circles pressed into the golden field.
“Meteorologists are mystified at how these crop circles formed. Was it an odd quirk of the weather? Or the hand of an artistic prankster? Either way, the result is beautiful.”
Ljgloyd Feb. 2015