When snow melts, the creeks do rise. — Watercolor by Pat Bean

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Robin Williams

Remembering my Grandmother

I was reading High Tide in Tucson, an essay anthology by Barbara Kingsolver who mentioned that she was often tempted to use one of her grandmother’s axioms when asked to commit to a future obligation. “Lord willing, and the creeks don’t rise,” she wrote.

My grandmother used to say exactly the same thing — and suddenly my wondering-brain was wanting to know the origin of the phrase  …  and then I was putting down Kingsolver’s book for a bit of research.

As usual, I came up with conflicting stories. One is that the phrase was first used by Benjamin Hawkins, U.S. General Superintendent for Indian Affairs between 1796 and 1818. Supposedly he used it in a letter to Thomas Jefferson requesting his presence in Washington D.C. in which he replied he would be there “God willing and the Creek don’t rise,” meaning the Creek Indians.

Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors — and I’m loving this book of essays by her.

Others believe that Creek merely refers to a stream, and that it was simply a hayseed rural term meaning if nothing stops me or all goes well. One example for this is a mock rustic speech from an 1851 Graham’s American Monthly Magazine: “Feller-citizens — I’m not ’customed to public speakin’ before sich highfalutin’ audiences. … Yet here I stand before you a speckled hermit, wrapt in the risen-sun counterpane of my popilarity, an’ intendin’, Providence permittin’, and the creek don’t rise, to go it blind!”

Another example of early use of the phrase, according to Wikipedia, is from the 1894 Lafayette Gazette: “We are an American people, born under the flag of independence and if the Lord is willing and the creeks don’t rise, the American people who made this country will come pretty near controlling it.”

It’s also said to be a sign-off tag line of the 1930s’ radio broadcaster Bradley Kincaid. My grandmother liked to listen to the radio so maybe this is where she picked it up. And finally, it has also been attributed to Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson, among others, on the usual principle that attaching a famous name to a story validates it.

Well, that was enough information, if not exactly uncomplicated, to placate this wondering-brain of mine — until the next time it is wants answers. In the meantime, God willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll go back to reading High Tide in Tucson. And in case you’re wondering about that title, Kingsolver explains it in her first essay.

Bean Pat: In tribute to Mary Oliver https://deborahbrasket.wordpress.com/2019/01/20/mary-oliver-washed-in-light/  Her words live on.

Now available on Amazon

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion Pepper. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. Check out her book Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon, to learn more. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

A Week with No Internet

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

I did finish this painting during my no-internet agony. Watercolor by Pat Bean

It Wasn’t Intentional

A few months ago, my Wi-Fi was down because I needed an updated modem. As a stop gap, I realized the Wi-Fi connection of my brother was near enough by so that I could use it.  It worked well and my life wasn’t interrupted while I waited for a new modem to arrive.

A few months later when the contract for my internet provider expired, I learned that the company wanted to increase the cost of my internet-only service – I don’t own a TV – from $70 a month to over a hundred dollars, I was incensed. I talked to my brother, and he encouraged me simply to cancel and use his Wi-Fi, which I already knew worked quite well for me.

The Internet lets me see my youngest great-grandchild Cora grow up, and lets others see me with this precious one when I do get to see her in person. — Photo was taken by another family member during our Christmas get-away in Florida.

Great, I thought. My limited, fixed-income budget was grateful for the brotherly love. And it was — for a couple of months. But then things began to go haywire, and after I was without internet for a couple of days, I knew I had to get my own. I found a different provider, however, one that was only going to charge me $45 a month for life –well there was another $10 for monthly modem rental and the life was only good for as long as I never moved from my current location, which I almost certainly will.

Of course, it took time to get reconnected to my own Wi-Fi, which left me almost a whole week without internet. It was agony. It made me realize how much I need and enjoy being connected to the world.

I begin my days by reading the New York Times online. I stay in touch with friends and family, getting to see my great-grandchildren who live far away grow up day by day.  I blog. I submit writing to potential publication markets and search out potential writing jobs.  I use the internet prolifically to find answers to my always questioning mind. I stream TV and movies on my computer or Kindle. I do research for my essays and blogs. I play computer games. I look at maps to see where I’m going or want to go. I shop online. I read Amazon reviews of my book Travels with Maggie online, and I download books from Amazon and the library. And I moderate a daily writing forum called Writer2Writer for Story Circle Network.

That’s a haystack made entirely of needles to this old broad, seeing as my family didn’t get a TV until I was 14 years old.

The world changed, and I guess I changed with it.

Bean Pat: First you must believe you’re a writer https://lithub.com/how-to-say-im-a-writer-and-mean-it/  A blog for writers.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion Pepper. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. Check out her book Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon, to learn more. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

Hoppin’ John: A southern recipe — Wikimedia photo

“Superstition is foolish, childish, primitive and irrational – but how much does it cost you to knock on wood?” — Judith Viorst

Black-Eyed Peas and Hoppin’ John

I had my black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. My brother, who lives in a first-floor apartment beneath my third-floor apartment gave me some. They were good, and I am grateful. He cooked them with ham and onion. No telling how much bad luck I would have had if I hadn’t eaten them.

I’m not sure everyone knows what I’m talking about, but my southern readers almost certainly do. You eat black-eyed pea on New Year’s Day so you will have luck during the coming year. Why, you ask? Until I did a little bit of research yesterday, I would have probably answered: “Just because.”

Pepper. on right, and her best friend Dusty, enjoying a lazy day. It’s cold outside today in Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean

But, thanks to the good ole Internet, here’s what I discovered.

“The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. At first, planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman’s troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.”  — TripSavy

Wikipedia, which repeats but doubts the Sherman story, also suggests that black-eyed peas were a symbol of emancipation for African-Americans who had previously been enslaved, and who after the Civil War were officially freed on New Year’s Day.

My favorite black-eyed pea dish, which I also cook during the year and not just on New Year’s Day is Hoppin’ John. My version includes dried black-eyed peas cooked with ham hock, onion, and salt to taste, with rice added at the end as well as a goodly dousing of Worchester Sauce.

Bean Pat: The Value of One Chicken https://windbreakhouse.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/a-chicken-in-every-house/

Now available on Amazon

Common sense from one of my favorite writers.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion Pepper. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. Check out her book Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon, to learn more.

What We See

Besides always looking — and seeing — birds, they have become my favorite subject to paint. — Great horned in a tree by Pat Bean

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” — Mark Twain

And What We Don’t

I was out driving around Tucson the other day with my friend Jean when she spotted a garage-sale sign.  She usually sees three or four every time we go out together while I see zero. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that she likes garage sales and I don’t.

Also my favorite subject to photograph. — Great Blue Heron at Brazos Bend State Park in Texas photo by Pat Bean

My thoughts about this oddity touched my memory of a day back before I became an addicted bird watcher. I was riding in a van with seven members of HawkWatch, an organization whose goal is to protect raptors. They were going to check on hawks flying over the Goshute Mountains, and I was tagging along as a reporter doing a story on HawkWatch.

We were driving on Interstate 80 through the Bountiful Salt Flats between Salt Lake City and the Nevada border, and every few minutes one of my fellow passengers called out sighting of a bird, most often a red-tailed hawk or a turkey vulture.

This seemed strange, as I had driven this same, desolate route many times and had never spotted a bird. It then got stranger. After we left the highway for an unpaved backroad, one of the guys in the van yelled: “Stop! There’s an owl in that cottonwood tree.”

The driver stopped, and all of the guys oohed over the owl, which they had quickly identified as a great-horned. Even after one of the men pointed out to me where the bird was sitting, it took me a couple of minutes to actually see it. But when I did, its giant yellow eyes popped open and it stared straight at me. “Wow” was all I could think as we piled back in the van. I was changed forever. After that, I started seeing birds everywhere. Now I can’t not see them.

Thinking about this, as Jean suggested we might want to check out the garage sale, I realized how blind we can be to the world around us, simply because we’re not interested.

Perhaps, along with walking in another person’s shoes once in a while, we should also try looking at the world through another person’s eyes. There is no telling what we will see.

Bean Pat: Winter visitors https://cindyknoke.com/2018/12/04/the-canadians-are-coming/ From Canada.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion Pepper. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. Check out her book Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon, to learn more.

“Trust in what you love, continue to do it and it will take you where you need to go.”  – Natalie Goldberg

Sometimes it’s the holes, or flaws, in our lives that are the most interesting. View of the Ajo Mountains in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument near Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean.

I’ve taken up a challenge to write every day, even if it is only one sentence. I’m refining the challenge, issued by Jo Hawk at https://www.facebook.com/ to mean that I write every day on a work-in-progress, as I already write almost every day in my journals.

A second resolution is to make good use of time, because as an old broad who will turn 80 in April, I realize just how precious my remaining days on earth are.

A third, and final resolution, is to be kind because my heart tells me that kindness is the one thing the world could use more of these days.

So, what are your resolutions for the New Year?

Bean Pat: Ring out Wild Bells https://middlemaybooks.com/2018/12/31/ring-out-wild-bells-by-alfred-tennyson/?wref=pil An oldie but still a great poem for a new year.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion Pepper. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. Check out her book Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon, to learn more.

DFW Flashback

One of the trams at DFW airport that transport passengers from gate to gate and terminal to terminal. — Wikimedia photo

     ‘Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.’ — Samuel Ullman

Surviving Teenagers

Friday evening, I found myself sitting in a tram at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, hoping to get from Terminal C to Terminal A in time to catch a connecting flight to Orlando, Florida. Sitting across from me was my youngest daughter, T.C., who is a quite responsible and protective mom these days to the three boys she and her husband are raising after she raised three girls who are grown and given her grandchildren.

As I looked across the aisle at T.C., I suddenly remembered a night in 1978 when it was just her and me living together in Arlington, Texas, just a few miles from the DFW airport that had opened in 1974. My daughter was out with friends, and had an 8 p.m. curfew. By 10 minutes after 8, I was fuming and by 20 minutes after 8, I was worried and fuming.

Have a joyous one,

Shortly afterwards, I got a call from my daughter telling me she and her friends were at the airport riding the trams for fun, and asking if she could stay a bit longer. Of course, I screamed at her to get her butt home instantly.  I told this story to my grandson Patrick, who was sitting beside.  “How was that even possible?” he asked.

“That was before 9-11,” I said, realizing that he had never lived in a time before today’s paranoid airport security measures, back when anybody could follow a loved one all the way to the take-off gate, or meet them at the arrival gate. And even teenagers could explore an airport or ride the trams without the proper ID or a body pat, one of which I had before getting on my flight from Tucson to Dallas. I guess terrorists these days can even look like old broads.

“Wow!” Patrick responded to my information about the “old days.”  But I wasn’t sure he understood those days. And it made me sad.” But remembering how Patrick said he loved to come to my place because he didn’t get screamed at, I told him he should have heard me scream and howl at his mom. “It’s a mom’s responsibility to their children to scream at them,” I said, “especially if they’re teenagers. If you think it’s noisy at your house now, you should have heard the ruckus I made when I was raising your mom and her four siblings.”

I’m not sure he believed me. But I’m sure my children would love to back me up and tell him just how much they got yelled at by his Nana. Thankfully I survived those days – and so did my children. Now if we can all just survive these days.

Now available on Amazon

Bean Pat: Christmas. https://aipetcher.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/christmas-eve/ When life was simpler.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie would make a great last-minute Christmas gift for all those who wander but are not lost. You can order it on Kindle or in paperback. Merry Christmas all.

Deer Creek Falls

“Who I am, what I am, is the culmination of a lifetime of reading, a lifetime of stories. And there are still so many more books to read. I’m a work in progress.” — Sarah Addison Allen

John McPhee’s Encounters  

I’m reading A Colorado River Reader, an anthology of essays that range from the exploration days of John Wesley Powell to modern-day river runners. The stories have both enlightened and educated me, and brought to the forefront my own experiences of time spent on the river.

Granite Rapid: I was tossed out of the boat at the top of this rapid, and wasn’t pulled back in until the raft got to the end. What an adventure.

In 1991, and again in 1999 as a gift to myself on my 60th birthday, I escaped from the world for 16 days and rafted 225 miles down the Colorado as it flows through the Grand Canyon. On the first trip, I spent most of my time in a six-person paddle raft, communing with the river when it was gentle, screaming with glee at it when it was wild, and straining with the five others in the boat to power our way safely down the river and through the rapids.

By the time of the 1999 trip, I was content to ride in a larger oar boat and let a boatman, or boatwoman, do all the work, leaving me just to hang on for the ride. The two trips were different in experiences, but every second of both were 100 percent joyous and worth remembering, which is why I so relished the memories of those trips that were refreshed and brought to the forefront of my brain when I read John McPhee’s piece in the anthology.

Tunnel, far right, dug to access rock structure for proposed Marble Canyon Dam.

The essay, “Encounters with an Archdruid,” was about a trip down the river with David Brower, a prominent environmentalist who opposed dam building (and whom I had met and wrote about as a journalist) and Floyd Dominy of the Bureau of Reclamation, who built dams. He got the Glen Canyon Dam built, but failed to get the one he wanted to be built in Grand Canyon’s Marble Canyon, although he got as far as getting a tunnel dug in the side of a cliff at the proposed dam site to access the rock structure.

I got to walk into this tunnel during my second trip down the Colorado River.

McPhee’s essay took me along on this now legendary white-water float through the Grand Canyon, dousing my memories with the cold-water waves of Deubendorff Rapid and sprinkling them with the rainbow-lit drops of mist coming off Deer Creek Falls, an awesome side canyon waterfall whose music filled my ears as I sat by it and ate lunch one day.

As I read, my mind wandered off to give thanks to the person who taught me to read. I can’t remember who it was, just that I truly can’t remember a time in my life that I couldn’t read. Reading has enlarged and brightened my world for as long as I can remember. And I’m thankful for this great gift.

I believe Ray Bradbury said it best when he wrote that not reading books was worse than burning them.

Bean Pat: Don’t call me sweet  https://awindowintothewoods.com/2018/12/18/dont-call-me-sweet/  Take a break from the holiday chaos.

Now available on Amazon

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon. It would make a great Christmas gift for all those who wander but are not lost.