Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson


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Hello, life and everything

Sunrise this morning was bright red under a perfectly flat line of clouds. If it hadn’t been 5-something in the morning, I would’ve taken a picture of it for you.

Oh, my poor neglected blog, I’ve missed you. I’m always of a mind to tell you that if I have nothing to say, it’s better not to try to force a post. Like so many other people I’ve been digging my way out from the dark days of winter. Here in northern California it’s been raining pretty much non-stop, so when the sun finally peeked out a few days ago I was reminded of the time I spent at the beach sand bars as a child. When the tide went out, hermit crabs would emerge from their shells. Timidly at first, because a wave could always come crashing back down on them, but eventually they’d get brave enough to peek out and stay out, and finally to start scuttling around.

That was the Bay area this week. It was like the aftermath of an apocalyptic event: the sun was finally out, and people stepped outside for the first time in a long time, shielding their eyes against the sudden onslaught of beauty pouring down on them.

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But I spent a long time living in Oregon, and I know winter sunshine is more of a tease than a reality. We’re getting ready for another week or more of rain now, and I’m holding my breath along with the majority of the country in hoping that dam in Sacramento holds. In other news, okay, thank you for the much-needed water, skies, but you can stop for a while now.

As far as writing goes, I started a challenge to do a personal novel writing month this month. I decided to finish the novel I started during NaNoWriMo. Every day, the writing was a struggle. I hated all the words coming out. No, not all the words, just the way the story was unraveling, so I stepped back and took a break for a few days. I know this goes against the whole “don’t self-edit, don’t second-guess, just write every day” rule that usually works so well during NaNoWriMo, but I decided that in February I ought to play by my own rules.

I’m so glad I took the break, because the introspective navel-gazing made me realize I needed a reset. If I was going to tell this story, I needed a whole new book to tell it instead of tacking it on to the end of the November one. So I pulled up my big-girl panties and decided to scrap 3/4 of the 60,000 words I wrote in November, keep the other 1/4 as a standalone novella, and begin again. Now the writing is fun! Now I’m convinced I’m telling the right story the right way. What a relief. For a while there, I thought I’d forgotten how to enjoy writing.


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A Day Off

You’ve got to love California in January. Today I went to the beach, sat on the sand, in the sun, in jeans and a t-shirt, and watched the waves. The day was absolutely gorgeous, in the low 70s. I wish all of you could have been there. Maybe some of you were!

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“They” say we should never take pictures directly into the sun. I say nonsense. Yes, it throws off the color balance, but rules were made to be broken.


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Water

Water. I’m drawn to it, refreshed by it, invigorated by it. Last week I went to Lake Chabot, my nearest body of water. It’s a lovely lake. We took a hike, about 4 miles round trip. Along the way I was reminded by the graffiti that even out in nature, we’re not far from evidence of the city.

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(Click any image to view it full size.)

In contrast to the lake’s quiet, today I went to the ocean. One of my favorite spots on any coast is Half Moon Bay, about 25 miles south of San Francisco.

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The bay side, as you can see, is placid and lovely. Children love the water, and it’s a treat to watch them play by its side. If you keep walking past the Pillar Point marsh, you come upon a sweet little beach down low and bluffs above. You also come upon the surf spot known as Mavericks. The shorebirds are nonplussed by this.

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The further you go, the more extreme the shoreline becomes.

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The rocks here are punishing, but stunning. They call it the Boneyard for a reason.

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If you’ve been here for a while you probably know I follow big wave surfing. Today, there were intrepid souls out there. The waves were about 10-11′, I’d guess. Messy, heavy, and choppy, it’s still a pleasure to watch someone drop in on one.

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As I was leaving, there were more surfers heading out. It’s serious business, being in the water out there. I have a lot of respect for these athletes and their skill. As always, I have a lot of love for the ocean.


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Stinson Beach in the Fog

West coast beaches. We get this image of beautiful people wearing bikinis or board shorts, surfing or playing beach volleyball in the bountiful sunshine.

Some days it’s like that. More often, it’s not. West coast beaches — at least those in Washington and Oregon and northern California — are more likely to be socked in by fog than graced by sunshine, and the partygoers are more likely to be in wetsuits than swimsuits. The cold and fog don’t stop people from going to the beach.

The ocean has an undeniable draw. The joy it brings seems most obvious with children and animals, then with everyone else. From surfers to boogie-boarders to couples walking hand in hand to kite-flyers, the beach is one place where everyone can have fun.

I love the ocean for more reasons than I’m willing to go into right now. Being able to observe other people loving it too fills me with happiness. Documenting it is a treat.

These photos were taken at Stinson Beach, north of San Francisco. Click any image to access the gallery.


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Welcome to Oregon.

It rains here.

It rains here a lot. The weather systems particularly like to lull us into thinking that spring’s arrived early: beautiful clear sunny days, temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s, not a cloud in sight. But when we wake up the next day it’s 50-something and raining and stays that way for the next week, the next month, the next two months.

Imagine the confusion for the poor peacock who’s taken up residence here during daylight hours. I was told the way to capture a peacock is to find out where he goes at night, then follow him there and when he settles in to roost, just put a bag over him and take him wherever. I don’t know about you, my friends, but I don’t have a bag large enough for the peacock’s tail, let alone all of him. I did follow him one evening when the sun was out and discovered he really lives across the street and up a house or two, because he goes back there every night.

Apparently, we’re peacock daycare. Most days he roosts happily in my pear tree, the one with the adult peacock-sized crook in the branch. He loves it there, stays all day, then makes his way back home as the light starts to dim. But on rainy days, he spends his time in my garage. I found this out by surprise one day when I returned from running errands and opened the garage door. Out raced the peacock (if you haven’t been following along, his name is Richard Parker, fondly named for the Siberian tiger in Life of Pi) looking very indignant.

This is what I get for leaving the garage door open a foot or so at the bottom for the stray cats. Who knew peacocks could avail themselves of the same small opening?

Today, when it’s been pouring pretty much nonstop, I’m not surprised to find him there. If you’ve ever asked yourself the burning question what does a peacock do in a garage all day? I can answer it for you: he paces and leaves droppings.

Peacocks are smart on the bird scale of brains. He knows where I keep the sunflower seed for the bird feeders. If it’s impervious to raccoons and squirrels it’s also impervious to Richard Parker, but that doesn’t stop him from hanging around the bin. Whether he goes into the loft or not I can’t say; he’s awkward on steps because he’s an oversized bird with a tail any Dr. Seuss creature would envy. He knows my voice and doesn’t tend to scamper away when I’m there. He also knows I’ll feed him his favorite treats (sunflower seed, blueberries, and soft mild cheese. I’m not cruel enough to try him on the jalapeƱo jack, although I do know he’s moderately fond of grapes, less fond of strawberries, and turns his nose up at cracked corn).

Luckily the warmer drier weather’s on its way, and he can do plenty of foraging on his own. Maybe he’ll even start catching the little reptiles when they appear, not that I have anything against them.

So yes, it’s Oregon, it rains a lot here. I sure can’t say I mind the water, but I never anticipated it would teach me as much as it has about the exotic peafowl lifestyle.

Pacific City, OR


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World Water Day

I love the ocean. I’ve never made a secret out of that. Growing up with the Atlantic Ocean for a back yard was fantastic. Long Island Sound was my playground every summer all summer, and as much as I could get away with it the rest of the year. In the water or out didn’t matter. My love affair with the beach varied from passionate to lukewarm, but it’s always been there. These days I live on the other side of the country. My admiration and respect for the Pacific Ocean is boundless. I know I’ve been too far from the water for too long when the 90-minute drive to get there seems insurmountable. When I think about making the trip every week, or twice a week.

Today is World Water Day. I’m not going to inundate you with links to ways you can help today (and every other day) or preach to you about what we’re all doing wrong from an environmental standpoint. Instead, I’m going to leave you with some pictures of my favorite inspiration.


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Central Coast


A few pictures of life on, off, and near the piers in central California.