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I am thankful that I once got to float across the Serengeti in a hot air balloon. — Photo by Pat Bean of the balloon ahead of the one she was riding in.  

          I am thankful the most important key in history was invented. It’s not the key to your house, your car, your goat, your safety deposit box, your bike lock or your private community. It’s the key to order, sanity and peace of mind. The key is Delete. – Elayne Boosler

A Slower Pace is Good

          Boosler’s quote reminded me of one of the many, many things I’m thankful for Laughter. Not only does it bring joy to my life, it lightens the load when the going gets tough, like when my 80-year-old back decides to act its age.

I’m thankful for every sunrise and sunset in my past — and future. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m thankful that the years have not diminished my zest for life, although these days that’s more likely to be enjoying a good book than getting dumped out of a raft at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

I’m thankful for my large family, blood and heart-related equally, a few of whom worry about me these days. I’m very thankful they show their love for this imperfect Mom and Nana, but also take a perverse delight because I once worried a lot about the comings and goings of my children. But I do try to keep my guardian angel among them informed of my whereabouts as she kept track of me during my RV roaming days. Besides she’s a daughter-in-law whose youthful ways worried her parents, not me.

I’m thankful for my slower pace these days. I see more, take time to enjoy more and enjoy using my mind to connect the dots of my life. In earlier days, I ran instead of walked through life. Both travel modes have their season, but this slower pace is quite enjoyable.

I’m thankful for Scamp. I drove a thousand miles, roundtrip, to get him and this is a picture of our first meeting. — Photo by my dear friend Kim Perrin, who rescued him for me. .

I’m thankful for my canine companion Scamp, although he is turning out to be more of a wolfhound-mix than the schnauzer-mix the shelter claimed. He is closing onto 40 pounds, but he and my third-floor walk-up apartment are my alarm clock and exercise plan. I can’t imagine not having him my by side during the day, or curled up beside me at night. I’m finally even getting around to convincing him I‘m his alpha. It takes a quiet voice and a staredown. Scamp’s saving grace is that he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, and he has yet to meet another person or dog he doesn’t like on sight. Every 80-year-old needs a challenge in life – and currently, he’s mine.

I’m thankful for books, and the actual time these days as a retired being to read more of them than in my younger years.

I’m thankful for the friends I’ve accumulated over the years and the new ones I’ve made since moving to Tucson. They daily bring joy to my life.

I’m thankful for butterflies and flowers, and all other miracles of Mother Nature. — {hoto by Pat Bean.

I’m thankful for the journals I have kept over the years. They remind me that I’ve lived a full life. I’m also thankful that there is still more life in me and more journals out there for me to fill.

I’m thankful for the joy and peace Nature still brings into my heart with its majestic mountains, awesome trees, winding canyons, desert landscapes, and colorful sunrises and sunsets. Mother Nature keeps my soul sane in these chaotic, polarized days.

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

Books Everyone Should Read

“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.” — Philip Marlow as created by Raymond Chandler in Farewell, My Lovely

Crows: Their flock name is A Murder. — Watercolor by Pat Bean

So Many Lists, So Little Time

I frequently come across lists of recommended books to read, from 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die to The 50 Best Travel Books. There is even a book about book lists, aptly titled A Book of Book Lists: A Bibliophile’s Compendium,

Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep was on one of these lists, so I checked it out of the Library. The book, published the year I was born, with its cynical private eye Philip Marlow, was made into a movie in 1946 starring Humphrey Bogart as Marlow and Lauren Bacall as the leading lady.

As a sample of Chandler’s Marlow character, here are a few bits of his dialog:

“She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket.”

“It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.”

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep.

           “A really good detective never gets married.”

           “The kind of lawyer you hope the other fellow has.”

           “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.”

“The streets were dark with something more than night.”

Chandler wrote seven and a half Marlow novels with the eighth finished by Robert B. Parker (whose Spenser books I also love) after Chandler’s death. Parker died in 2010.

Perhaps because I picked up Sue Grafton’s D is for Deadbeat (published 1987) to read right after I finished The Big Sleep, I decided Grafton probably had might have been influenced by Chandler’s books because I saw similarities between Grafton’s protagonist Kinsey Millhome and Philip Marlow. Both are no-nonsense characters with a strong sense of morals, their own if not society’s, and fiercely independent.

Says Kinsey in V is for Vengence: “I know there are people who believe you should forgive and forget. For the record, I’d like to say I’m a big fan of forgiveness as long as I’m given the opportunity to get even first.” And in F is for Forgiveness: I pictured a section of the ladies’ auxiliary cookbook for Sudden Death Quick Snacks… Using ingredients one could keep on the pantry shelf in the event of tragedy.”

Grafton, meanwhile, was more prolific than Chandler, getting all the way up to Y in her alphabetical murder series before she died two years ago. But even she wasn’t as prolific as another of my favorite dead mystery authors, Agatha Christi. Her characters, the egotistical Hercule Poirot (“Hercule Poirot’s methods are his own. Order and method, and ‘the little gray cells.” – The Big Four), and the old pussy Miss Marple (“Everybody in St. Mary Mead knew Miss Marple; fluffy and dithery in appearance, but inwardly as sharp and as shrewd as they make them.” — 4:50 from Paddington) have enthralled me almost as long as I’ve been reading, which is well over half a century.

So, what are you reading?

Bean Pat: To all the authors, dead and alive, whose characters and thoughts and knowledge have enriched my life. Thank you!

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.

 

Western Kingbird: Along with reading books on writing, I also love to read books on birding. Kenn Kaufman’s Kingbird Highway is one of my favorites.

“Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that’s no reason not to give it.” – Agatha Christie

Morning Chat

          I’m a big fan of books about writing and the writing life, beginning with E.B. White’s 100-year-old classic The Elements of Style.

Among my favorites are Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life; On Writing by Stephen King; Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg: and The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr.

These writers have offered me some very good advice, but also lots of other advice that doesn’t work for me. I thought about this as I finished reading Dani Shapiro’s book, Still Writing. It was full of good writing tips, but as one who has been writing for the past 55 years, I know only about half of her advice would work for me.

For one thing, she’s a lock yourself in the room and stay there and write kind of person. I’m more like Barbara Kingsolver, who calls herself a writer who does other things. Staying active and busy, but with some time for thinking and writing, works best for me.

Even so, the best writing advice of all times is simply: Butt in chair. Well, unless you write standing up.

What’s your favorite book on writing? Inquiring minds want to know.

Bean Pat: A blog about a western kingbird http://www.10000birds.com/a-western-kingbird-at-jones-beach. If you’re a birder, check out Kenn Kaufman’s Kingbird Highway. I once birded with Kenn (at the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival) and the first bird of the day was a western kingbird.

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.

Star Trek Memory

I was in my 40s when I got hooked on white water rafting, a passion that I indulged in for the next 25 years. I also learned to ski in my 40s. — Photo by Pat Bean

          Live now; make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.” Jean-Luc Picard, from the episode “Inner Light”

A Page from My Journals

One of the eye-openers of rereading my journals is the footnotes I sometimes want to add to the bottom of a page when I come across an entry that has a new, or expanded meaning in my shifting brain.

I had quite a few boyfriends beginning in my 40s, even married one of them — for eight months. We parted friends. When Willie and Julio sing about all the girls they’ve loved before, I think of all the boys I’m glad came along. 

For example, on May 9, 1998, I quoted Katharine Butler Hathaway, whose memoir, The Little Locksmith, was first published in 1943, and then reprinted in 2000 by The Feminist Press. Though disabled, Katharine made a full life for herself.

Wrote Katharine: “It is only by following your deepest instinct that you can lead a rich life … if you let your fear of consequence prevent you from following your deepest instinct then your life will be safe, expedient, and thin.”

My 1998 response to the quote was to recall a Star Trek episode in which Picard realized it was his foolish youth that gave him the necessary confidence to be the captain of the Enterprise.

Thinking back now I realize that it was my own wild 40s, when I was truly on my own for the first time in my life, that was my version of a foolish youth. I don’t think I would be the happy, confident, satisfied, old-broad I am today without those years. And I kinda like this old broad. Whatever it is, my life is not thin.

     Bean Pat: I recently got hooked on this site: poem-a-day@poets.org A poem comes to my email every day in both type and audio form. I listen to the audio. It’s a great way to get my brain juices rolling in the morning.

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 woke up today with a challenging bump. Whom do I trust? Is it Bannon or Trump? … Should I stick with The Times, for reliable views, or is Twitter the place to keep up with the news … I had no reply, so went back to my sleep. To hell with it all. It will keep, it will keep.” – Day 178, Jan Morris at the age of 92.

Jam Morris’ daily thoughts often had a bit of squirreliness about them. Have you ever watched a squirrel running from here to there? They’re fun to watch — and Jan’s words were fun to read, sometimes serious,  full of unanswered questions, and often laugh-provoking. Life can be thoughtful and fun at any age. — Photo by Pat Bean

In My Mind’s Eye by Jan Morris

          Sadly, this morning I finished reading Jan Morris’ book of daily thoughts, In My Mind’s Eye. It ends on Day 188 – but I wanted it to go on forever. I’ve enjoyed her books for years – she has written over 40, mostly travel and history genres. This book, however, is about the journey of aging, a trip that I am now taking.

Jan Morris, who lives and writes these days from her home in Wales.

Since Morris has 13 years on me, I figured she had lots to teach me about the route. I was right. We both regret what the years have done to our bodies but like having this late time in life to reflect forward and backward.

While I’m blessed to be in good health for my age, I do suffer a bit from back pain that has considerably slowed me down.

Thinking about it last week, I cried after finally accepting that I would never again be able to take day-long hikes. But self-pity says Morris — and I agree. – is not attractive. So, like her, I tell myself: “Oh do shut up!”

Morris and I also agree that kindness is the most important of attributes, and preaching it is, at our ages, the best we have to offer the world in this time of chaos.

Writes Morris about kindness: “…it is the ultimate virtue, embracing all others, understood by everyone, recognized by most religions and a pleasure to practice.”

I’m so going to miss my morning thoughts with Morris.

Bean Pat: Viewpoints https://forestgardenblog.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/sunday-dinner-viewpoint/#like-27331 Photos with quotes to match. I loved this.

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.

          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.