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          What a newspaper needs in its news, in its headlines, and on its editorial page is terseness, humor, descriptive power, satire, originality, good literary style, clever condensation, and accuracy, accuracy, accuracy!” — Joseph Pulitzer

Reporter, one of the books I’m currently reading. I give it five stars plus.

It was my Era, Too

          “I’m a survivor from the golden age of Journalism,” wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning author Seymour M. Hersh in his memoir Reporter.

Me, too, was my first thought. While Hersh, who like me is in his 80s, was a big fish swimming upstream in search of truth, I was a small fish in that same stream. As reporters before the year 2000, we were given time to search out the truth, not pressured to put unchecked information out to the public before it was researched and verified.

Reading Hersh’s book, I learned that both of us had started our careers under the thumb of hard-boiled editors who told us that if we thought our mothers loved us, we should still check it out.

Better yet, back then we weren’t pressured to respond to every rumor put out on the internet – because there was no internet instantly available to rumormongers, malicious gossips, bullies, political liars, or simply misinformed individuals.

I believe there are still responsible media outlets out there that are dedicated to facts and context. But we’ve lost a lot of them because they couldn’t survive in today’s world. The big display ads and classified ads that once supported strong newsrooms have disappeared from print pages to web sites and online advertising.

Online seems to be where the world, including myself, does business these days. I submit articles for publication online. I keep up with my far-flung family members and get to see my great-grandchildren grow up online. And the internet brings the world to my small apartment.

I love the internet. The downside, of course, is that we users are left to determine what’s the truth, and what’s fictional garbage.

Just the facts, Ma’am,” as Sgt. Joe Friday used to say on the TV series Dragnet. Instead, we too often have what Hersh calls the two deadliest words in journalism: “I think.”

Bean Pat: To all the media outlets surviving today that still put accuracy ahead of beating the competition – or biased agendas.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining .

Peter, Paul, and Mary

          There is only one river. There is only one sea. And it flows through you, and it flows through me. There is only one people. We are one and the same. We are all one spirit. We are all one name.” – Peter Yarrow

          “All of us are subject to being passive to the social ills around us. It’s a struggle not to become, by staying silent, an accomplice.” — Mary Travers.

          “You have to put your body on the line from time to time in order to make a statement or change a law. – Paul Stookey

Peter, Paul, and Mary in the 1960s. — Wikimedia photo

Tribute Concert

          I’m not a musical person, couldn’t carry a tune if my life depended on it. I don’t listen to music around the house on a regular basis, and never listen to music while driving behind the wheel of a car, and never, never when walking. I do, however, occasionally enjoy a concert or start my day by listening to one special piece of music – like Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries or Helen Reddy’s I am Woman.

MacDougal Street West Band

But Peter, Paul and Mary’s music sings in my soul. I got hooked on the folk trio back in the ’60s when they were singing about peace and love during Vietnam, Nixon, draft dodgers, LSD, bra-burnings, free love and Watergate. At the beginning of the ’60s, I was a stay-at-home wife changing the diapers of five children. At the end of the ’60s, I was a reporter interviewing a mother whose son was killed in Vietnam.

I think of myself as a hippie flower child, although I was ever only one in my head. I didn’t smoke, or even drink back then, and I’ve always been too addicted to being in control of myself to ever do drugs.

But the music of Peter, Paul, and Mary made me feel as if I was one of the actual protestors against war and hate and for peace and love. It still does.

It especially did last night when I attended the MacDougal Street West’s Peter, Paul and Mary tribute concert at the Gaslight Theater here in Tucson. I was time-machined back more than a half-century, and for some strange reason, I couldn’t stop smiling through the entire two-hour performance.

The tears only came as the singers belted out: If I Had a Hammer. I had waited for this one song the entire performance and thought I was going to go away disappointed. It was the closing verse that undid me.

“I got a hammer, And I’ve got a bell. And I’ve got a song to sing
All over this land.

It’s the hammer of justice. It’s the bell of freedom. It’s the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters, all over this land. All over this land…”

Bean Pat: Thank you MacDougal Street West http://macdougalstreetwest.com/ for carrying on the work of Peter, Paul and Mary of whom David Halberstam said: “Theirs is not just music that brings back memories of another time and place, but music as history itself.” – David Halberstam.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

 

Mornings with Scamp

Early morning view of Mount Lemmon taken while walking Scamp. — Photo by Pat Bean

          “Everybody should have a shelter dog. It’s good for the soul.” – Paul Shaffer

Who Needs a Gym Membership?

          Scamp, my rowdy, half-trained canine companion, wakes me shortly before 6 a.m., impatiently eager for our morning walk. He snuggles next to me and kisses my face sweetly. He is always sweet in the morning. I scratch behind his ears, run my hands over his furry body, and rub the night boogers away from his eyes.

And then, to complete our morning ritual, I ask him if he’s ready for our walk. His reply is to wiggle all over, give me one last sloppy kiss, and then to hop down from the bed, but only after I have at least one foot on the floor. I don’t think he trusts that I really will get up.

Can’t you put your shoes on faster? I imagine Scamp asking as he waits for his morning walk. –Photo by Pat Bean 

Scamp then paces around me as I throw on some clothes, and lies in front of me as I sit in my living room recliner to put on my shoes and lace them up. This latter behavior is much appreciated. I adopted Scamp as an eight-month-old from a rescue shelter in May, and for the next two months, he kept attacking my feet as I tried to put on my shoes.

With a good grip on his leash, I open the door and tell him to wait before we walk down three flights of stairs. He is slowly learning to do that, but I always hang on to the railing as we go down. Sometimes he’s still too much of a puppy to go at my pace.

Once down, Scamp takes a long pee, and I praise him, thankful that he is now sleeping all through the night without a potty break. Then we take a meandering walk through my large apartment complex, with Scamp marking most trees as we pass them. He usually waits until we get to an upper courtyard level before doing his other business, which I dutifully pick up and dispose of at the pooper station.

Most mornings, it’s just the two of us out an about. It’s peaceful. I love the freshness of a morning with the sun peeking up from the horizons. We have resident great horned owls, and sometimes they are still up and, hooting from one of the tall trees. The morning view of Mount Lemmon, never quite the same, lifts my soul and prepares it for the day ahead.

If there are others up at this early hour, walking their dogs or heading off to work, Scamp wants to greet them. He’s become a favorite of many of the residents and mostly they stop and give him a pat or two.

Scamp, since I adopted him, has never met a human or a dog he doesn’t like. That makes up for a lot of his other faults, like pulling, chewing and demanding attention.

Once back in my apartment, I feed Scamp before brushing my teeth and making coffee for myself. Most mornings I drink my coffee on my third-floor balcony with a book in my hand and Scamp at my feet watching the world go by below.

I can’t think of a better way to start my day – which will include at least four more walks for Scamp and me. He and the stairs are this 80-year-old’s exercise plan – a rare one that can’t be skipped.

I count myself blessed.

Bean Pat: Writing myths https://ryanlanz.com/2019/10/05/6-myths-about-writing-2/ One of the writing blogs I follow.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

Writing and Music

Pure fakery fun! Me in 2012 standing on The Circle in the Grand Ole Opry House during the last of my RV-ing years. 

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours.” — J.D. Salinger

The Write Words

          Author Dani Shapiro compares writing to music.

“When you have written something … listen to it,” she says in Still Writing, which Terry Tempest Williams calls “a wise, pragmatic soulful guide to the writing life.”

“What instrument does your language call to mind? A cello? An electric guitar? An oboe?“ Dani asks.

Hmmm!

Dani’s words, of course, made me ask what instrument my writing calls to mind. I’m not a musical person so coming up with an answer took a good bit of thought.

First drafts, definitely a fiddle, I finally decided. If the editing goes well, and my efforts to make my words sing succeeds, perhaps a flute. It would be nice to feel like my writing floats harmoniously across the page.

But then I realized I also wanted my writing to have a drummer lounging in the background, one who sounds off enough to echo the beat of myself walking to Thoreau’s different pace.

It was a fun question to answer, perhaps because there were no right or wrong answers.

Bean Pat: Top 10 of the Decade https://lithub.com/the-10-best-debut-novels-of-the-decade/ Lit Hub’s choices. I find I usually agree with only half of any such lists, but these books are worth checking out if you’re looking for something to read.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

I’m currently reading this book — and loving it.

          A love of books, of holding a book, turning its pages, looking at its pictures, and living its fascinating stories goes hand-in-hand with a love of learning.” – Laura Bush

What I’m Reading

          I’m reading In My Mind’s Eye, a collection of short essays written by Welch author Jan Morris when she was in her nineties. Jan is one of my favorite authors, and I’m loving her unvarnished look at the world through the lens of age.

Dr. Johnson’s Dicitionary, first published in the 18th century is still lurking around in book stores.

Jan, who was once James and served in the military and climbed Mount Everest in the 1950’s, has written almost too many travel and history books to count. In My Mind’s Eye is a kind of daily diary, however. Topics range from talking to your cat to her idea of a smile test.

On Day 59 in the book, Jan talks about looking through her vast collection of books for Dr. Johnson’s dictionary, fifth edition, 1788. As he picks up the book, Jan notices the damage on the spine and remembers that it was put there by her “darling daughter,” 50 years ago when her pram was parked by the bookcase.

Who in the heck is Dr. Johnson? I stopped reading and looked him up. He was Samuel Johnson, considered one of the best writers of the 18th Century, and best known for his Dictionary of the English Language. I love reading a book in which I learn something new.

Meanwhile, another of my favorite days in Jan’s book is the one in which she rewrote the words to the battle hymn Onward Christian Soldiers.

Onward friends and neighbors, into the kindly sun,

          Where we are paid-up members, each and every one.

          We need no theologians, no doctrinal guff,

          No military idioms, no sham repentance stuff –

          We take the worthy with the nasty, the gentle with the rough.

          The absolute of absolutes. Kindness is enough.!”

Kindness is my word for the year.

  Bean Pat: To all the many, many authors who have challenged my mind and broadened my horizons.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

Thorns

Beauty among the thorns. — Photo by Pat Bean

          You cannot show people only the petals and not the thorns. It’s not fair to them.” – Bethenny Frankel

Morning Chat

          Marianne Moore, an American poet born in 1887 whose work was rife with irony and wit, said: “Thorns are the best part of you.”

My younger self would have argued the point – until the day I noticed that my children were all in love with my mother. She was a person who had lots of thorns.

She was also a kind person, but the thorns, as Marianne proclaimed, were the best part of her.

It took a few more years, however, before I let my own thorns show. And that only happened when I realized that people would still like me, well at least the people who counted, if I were more than a smiling, agreeable twit who never said “No” to anyone’s request.

It seems I had only been pretending to be a goodie-two-shoes – and that probably lost me more friendships than it saved.

I still smile a lot, and try to be kind. But sometimes, as my close friends and telemarketers can testify, I can be a real bitch.

Bean Pat: Celery Bog https://pinolaphoto.com/2019/09/27/the-fall-migration-comes-to-the-celery-bog/ A walk among the birds I wish I could take.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

Dang Those Extra 30 Pounds

It’s fall. I love pumpkin pie and my pumpkin soup. And I’m going to eat as much as I want. — Painting by Pat Bean

          “Embrace what you have. Say, ‘Belly, you might be poking out today, but I’m going to choose to love you and nurture you.” – Ashley Graham

Morning Chat

          As I’m rereading my journals from the 1990s, I find myself frequently coming across instructions to not eat so much, to get serious about losing weight, t0 exercise more, and numerous promises to myself to follow this or that dieting plan.

As a young girl, I was on the skinny side and stayed that way, even through five pregnancies, until I hit about 30. I then spent the next 20 or so years at a weight that felt right for me. But when I hit my 50s, I began adding pounds, eventually about the 30 extra that I still carry around today.

I can starve myself for two weeks, then look at food and I’m back where I started. I finally realized that if I ate reasonably sensible, but never denied myself anything I truly wanted, my weight didn’t fluctuate. Over the past 15 years since I retired, my weight has not varied by more than five pounds, and that was downward, and might have had something to do with the numerous trips I make up and down three flights of stairs every day.

Today my weight only varies by one or two pounds — no matter what I eat. It seems my body wants those extra 30 pounds and there is not much I can do about it other than starve myself and be miserable. But since I enjoy cooking and eating, and am not a martyr, I have come to love my body just the way it wants to be — and to be thankful to it for all the good times it has given me.

I think I must have started down this path on April 5, 1998, when I wrote in my journal: “I need to walk more for my soul, and less for exercise.”

          Bean Pat: https://westwardwewander.com/ If you like traveling, nature and hiking, you’ll love this blogger

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.