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It’s World Kindness day

Just aa it took many tiles to create this mural, so it will take many acts of kindness to create a better world. — Photo of St. Louis Zoo aviary mural by Pat Bean

“Together we can change the world, just one random act of kindness at a time.” – Ron Hall.

I noted in my journal this morning that it was Friday the 13th, but I didn’t know until I opened my email that November 13 is also World Kindness Day.

          What a great idea, was my first thought. When did this happen was my second? I’ve been aware in recent years that something is being celebrated every day of the year, but this was a new one for me.

          With a little research, I learned that the day had been designated 22 years ago by the World Kindness Movement, a coalition of nations’ kindness NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and is now celebrated in numerous countries, including the United States.

          My third thought was that every day should be World Kindness Day.

          Bean Pat: Check out this CNN post on ways to be kind. https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/13/health/world-kindness-day-acts-wellness/index.html

          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.

Rest stop after a wandering-wondering day without stress. — Photo by Pat Bean

          “Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien

A Page From My Journal

          It was my 22nd day on the road in a slow meandering adventure from Idaho, where I had spent the summer, to Nashville, Indiana, where I had stopped for two days while Mother Nature weeped her blessings.

          It was still drizzling when I began the day’s journey to North Bend Ohio, about 100 miles away. This was my preferred daily mileage as it allowed me start my day leisurely with cream-laced coffee, do some writing, and then take my dog, Pepper, for a long walk before we got on the road in our RV, Gypsy Lee.

           The first town we passed was a tiny one called Gnaw Bone. Why, I wondered, would somebody name a town Gnaw Bone?

          Perhaps they didn’t. It was originally a French settlement called Narbonne, which we Americans might have mistranslated as Gnaw Bone.

          But the question filled my head with nonsense for a while as I traveled down several Indiana backroads. Usually I have these to myself, but not today.

           The narrow tree-lined roads I had chosen were not untraveled roads.  I had plenty of vehicular company, including a lavender semi that passed me in a swirl of blowing autumn leaves. Now I’ve seen purple semis but never a lavender one before.

          Was a man or woman driving? I hadn’t been able to look because the large truck passed me on a curve, and I had wisely kept my eyes on the road.  

          And then I found myself quoting out loud to Pepper: “I never saw a purple cow. I never hope to see one. But I would rather see, than be one.”

          It was just that kind of day.

          Then a few miles farther down the road, there was a green farm truck with a rear sticker asking: “Who is John Galt?”

          It started my brain thinking about Ayn Rand’s book, Atlas Shrugged, and from there to how we seem to live our lives at either end of a pendulum swing.

          And so. this wandering-wondering day went, with my brain circuits traveling ever so much faster than Gypsy Lee.

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.   

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A Late Political Rant

I feel like these American whistlers, just sitting around, watching the day go by.. —
Photo by Pat Bean.

          For four years I’ve been racking my brain to find a reason the Christian Right has been supporting a man more flagrantly sexually immoral than the former president they condemned so heartily for his sexual sins.

          To my way of thinking, it felt like the Christian world had been turned upside down. But finally, a light bulb in my fuzzy brain was ignited. One simple reason is that the Christian Right is a predominantly patriarchal society. It wasn’t that I didn’t know this. It was the reason I left my church almost 40 years ago. Its teachings stressed that woman would not have access to the highest degree in heaven without a man.  

          To have remained in that church would have been that I accepted being a second-class human, and I hadn’t accepted that from the minute I could think for myself at about six years old.

          It is most common in religious right thinking that a man has to lead, and even if a man isn’t a good person, too many male Christians and concurring females, felt it was better to put a man in charge of this country than a woman, especially one who thought she was as good as any man.        

This explains, to my dimwitted brain, why this country has had to put up with four years of bullying, lying, racism and flagrant egotism from a man who considers himself first and all others second — if even that.

            To think that anyone who considers himself a Christian and voted for this man today, especially after actually accepting his faults, continues to blow my mind.

          And why our leaders in Congress, many who spoke out against him before he gained office, did not call him out for his behavior and continued to back him saddens me. Sure, they got some of their political goals met, but only by accepting that the end was more important than the means.

          I don’t expect our president to be perfect. No one is. But I do expect him to be a decent human being.

I should have written this blog earlier – and not waited until I was biting my nails over today’s election results. They are already down to the quick. I suspect that whoever wins, we are facing some tough days ahead.

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.

A Manta for Writers

It’s is better to sit on my balcony watching the sun go down each night knowing that my butt was sitting down writing earlier in the day. — Photo my Dawn Lee, who enjoyed the sunset with me and my granddaughter this past week.

          “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow

The Write Words

          When I write, truly write with focus, without interruptions or editing, I amaze myself with how many words end up on the page. When I do this, my fingers on the keyboard often go places my brain hasn’t yet reached.

          And after I have written, be it a blog, a freelance profile, an essay, or a bit more on my memoir, which has been languishing untouched for way too long, I come away with a great sense of achievement. Writing makes me feel good about myself, even if the writing is just for myself.

But physically sitting myself down in front of a keyboard, butt in chair as writers call it, is a daily struggle. This is the reason why these first words of a blog titled Rantings of a Third Kind sang so true to me this morning:

 “I am writing, I am writing, I am so totally writing! This is the mantra, I am always reciting. But, it so damned hard, as my mind is against me fighting…”

 I signed up six times for NaNoWriMo – which stands for National Novel Writing Month, a free program to help writers complete a 50,000-word novel in 30 days– and dropped out the first five times before actually getting a certificate of completion for my final effort.

November is NaNo Month, by the way, and the program began today. You can check it out at: https://nanowrimo.org/

My daughter, Deborah, is attempting the program this year. I, however, have just vowed to spend at least 30 minutes every day writing. I started my goal at the beginning of the week, and it was easy as rolling downhill — until today when I started coming up with every excuse in the book why I didn’t need to write on a Sunday.  

          But then I read the Rantings of a Third Kind blog and picked up the author’s mantra:  I am writing, I am writing, I am so totally writing!

          Bean Pat: A writer who struggles as I do. https://gunroswell.wpcomstaging.com/2020/11/01/on-my-sunday-seat-i-do-write/

          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.

Updating My Profile

Scanp, right, and his best pal Dusty. — Photo by Pat Bean

          “The good news about computers is that they do what you tell them to do. The bad news is that they do what you tell them to do.” – Ted Nelson

It’s All About the Buttons

          I have been a computer user since 1978, forced, as a reporter, to write my newspaper stories on one. Less than 10 years later, I bought my first home computer, one that operated on floppy disks because it didn’t even have a hard drive.

          My first word processing system involved a black screen with green text. I became determined not to be left stalled on the “information highway,” and forced myself to learn all about DOS, an acronym for Disk Operating System. I was, so to speak, hep, an old-fashioned term for groovy, with-it, trendy, hip, and up-to-date.

          But things changed overnight – and I never caught up. I bought myself updated computers over the years, but depended on the tech guys at my work to simply tell me what buttons to push to make the dang machines do what I wanted them to do.

Then along came smart phones. By this time, I was a retired old broad without tech experts at my beck and call. While I was on the road traveling the country in my RV, one of my sons bought me my first smart phone because it tracked my location – which he wanted to know at all times. He spent good money on that phone but all the time my brain was thinking: Dang caring, loving son!

I hated that phone, and never learned to use it for anything but calling and texting. And I went back to my old flip phone when I ended my life on the road in 2013, using the excuse that the cost of service was cheaper – which was actually true.

Most of the stuff others did on their phones, I did on my computer, whose bigger screen works better for older eyes, and whose eccentricities I was able to eventually figure out – despite the convoluted, operating explanations provided for users by people who clearly didn’t know how to go from A to B without inserting Gs and Zs between the two.

But the smart phones with their apps, I finally began realizing at this late date, were being used for things my stay-at-home lap top couldn’t do, like gain entrance to movies, serve as maps, and act as coupons at grocery stores, just to name three simple ones.

Without my tech guys, I’m not sure I will ever learn how to do all of them. But I’m proud to say that last night, I did finally learn how to use my new phone — finally a smart one — to take a picture of my canine companion Scamp and then send it to my granddaughter, who was sitting across from me, and who had shown me which buttons to push to do so.

Time to update my profile, I think.  

Too Many to Count

If you saw a Bald Eagle when it was only two years old, you would see a ratty-looing bird with no white head. It takes these birds of prey four years to gain their magnificence. If all goes as expected, it takes many more years for humans to become their best selves, I believe. — Sketch by Pat Bean

What am I now that I was then is a line from Delmore Schwartz’s poem, “Calmly We Now Walk Through This April’s Day.”  The words sent my brain working overtime to answer the question.

I am not the same person I was over half a life ago, so much so I tell friends today they wouldn’t have liked me back then, when I was insecure, took things too personally, tried too hard to please everyone, cried too much, was searching for love while ignoring the love I had all around me, and thought of myself as two Pat Beans, one dull and following all the rules while the second one was learning to color outside the lines.

When I did the latter, I would say to myself, often aloud, Pat Bean doesn’t do that. It took a 16-day rafting trip, when I was in my 50s, on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon where nothing that was important in the outside world mattered, for the two Pat Beans to merge.

The one Pat Bean that stepped off the raft at the end of the adventure was both a stronger and a weaker person. She, at least I like to think, was a more likeable person because she was comfortable with her faults, didn’t have to prove she was perfect, and finally bold enough to accept and use her strengths.

But even that Pat Bean is not the same today, or even the day after. It seems each action, each book read, each new thought, each new experience, whether good or bad, changes me. I think that’s how life is supposed to be.

What do you think?

Bean Pat: You can read or listen to Delmore Schwartz’s poem here. https://www.poetryoutloud.org/poem/calmly-we-walk-through-this-aprils-day/

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.

Do You Remember When…

One of the best ways to jog my memory is to reread my journals,, which sometimes include sketches, like the one above about the day I watched a ruby-crowned kinglet.

          “Memory is the way we keep telling ourselves our stories – and telling others a somewhat different version of our stories.” – Alice Munro

          While reading Mustard’s Last Stand, by Kathy McIntosh, I came across a fictional character who popped a rubber band around his wrist because he had a negative thought.

          The action took me back over 40 years, back to when I dated a guy who frequently popped a rubber band that he wore around his wrist. Why? I had asked. He had been evasive.

         His name was Jon, and he was a very nice guy, a reporter at the Fort Worth Star Telegram where I worked for a couple of years. But we dated only a couple of times, and never became more than just good friends. He went back to an old girlfriend whom he was still carrying a torch for, and I moved 1,500 miles away.

          If I hadn’t come across that rubber band passage, I might never have thought of Jon again. The passage also answered my unanswered question about why someone would purposely give themselves a jolt of pain, as I imagine a rubber band does when snapped against skin.

          I wondered if Jon had snapped the rubber band every time he thought about his old girlfriend? And then I wondered if people still wear rubber bands around their wrists to break a habit?

I wonder a lot.

          Meanwhile, at 81, when I have forgotten more than I can remember, I’m glad when my little gray cells are jogged. It’s almost always fun.

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.

Morning Coffee Thoughts

A scene from the 1978 BBC series A Horseman Riding By.

Delderfield and Steinem Jiggle My Brain

          I’m currently reading A Horseman Riding By by R.F. Delderfield, which was first published in 1966, and which now has a 2017 edition available free on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. The book begins in 1902 and follows an English, land-owning family adjusting to world changes.

          One focus of Delderfield’s book is about the Suffragettes, who protested hard to gain women the vote, and were persecuted because of it.

       On Monday, I watched The Glorias, an Amazon Prime video about Gloria Steinem, who fought for equal rights for women back in the 1970s and is still fighting for them today. As a journalist for 37 years beginning in 1967, I reported on the equality issues, while at the same time fighting for equal rights and pay for my own work.

          What struck me during my own fight was that my fiercest competition to gain equality weren’t men, but women, including females working beside me. I know it’s hard to believe, but one early-on colleague told me to cool my fight for equal pay because she didn’t want to work as hard as the men. At the time I felt I was working harder than them to prove my worth.

          Then when I was hired to update a newspaper’s “Society” section into a modern day “Lifestyle” section, two women on my staff posted a note on the newspaper’s bulletin board saying they didn’t approve of my decisions to drop the required Miss and Mrs. titles in front of women’s names and to run pictures of both the bride and bridegroom in wedding announcements.

          Steinem, meanwhile, was up against Phyllis Schlafly, who conducted a national campaign against equal rights for women. I actually covered an event in which Schlafly spoke. It took the life out of me to report her comments. If I were to hold a grudge against anyone, it would be her.  I considered her a hypocrite as she was not the meek, stay at home mom she preached women should be.

          Anyway, all of these memories were brought together this morning while I was reading A Horseman Riding By as I drank my morning coffee.

The first wife of Delderfield’s protagonist scandalized everyone by leaving her husband and child to become a Suffragette. Several years later, the protagonist decided to back the political party that favored the women’s vote. But first he talked to his second wife, whom he feared might object. As part of the discussion, he showed her photos of Suffragettes being dragged down stone steps and force fed when they wouldn’t eat in protest.

          His wife didn’t object, but her belated response sent shivers down my body because it so squarely hit the bullseye.

          “I must be as far behind the times as any woman alive. I’ll use the vote if we get it, but I can’t work up much enthusiasm on the subject. Is that why they have to fight so hard do you suppose? Because so many women like me are satisfied to trot between nursery, kitchen and double bed?”

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.

Dang Pack Rats

I love that I can see Gambel Quail around my apartment complex. Too bad, however, that Pack Rats are also my neighbors. — Photo by Pat Bean.

Living in Covid Time 

          “Fate is not an eagle. It creeps like a rat.” – Elizabeth Bowen

I just spent $592 on car repairs because I live in the Sonoran Desert, home to Pack Rats that used my vehicle’s engine wires and parts as chew toys

Dang-nab-it!

That’s a lot more costly than when my newly acquired canine companion, Scamp, chewed up 13 rolls of toilet paper during his first couple of months in his new home last year.

Dang Pack Rat! — Wikimedia photo

But it’s not my first run in with Pack Rats. The first time I learned about these ratty critters was shortly after I took to the RV-ing life. After spending a week camped in Yellowstone National Park, I noticed my engine-problem light had come on. When I took the RV in to be checked out, the mechanic discovered a Pack Rat nest under the hood.

Fortunately, the only damage that time was a loose wire.

My next encounter with these came after I bought my current car in 2014, and left my RV parked at my daughter’s home near a wild desert landscape. Since it sat there for quite a while before the Pack Rat invaders were discovered, the damage was even more costly than my recent repair bill.

Pack Rats have to chew constantly to keep their teeth, which continually grow, to a manageable length. And since many new cars have soy-based wiring, the rats have learned they can chew and enjoy a snack at the same time.

Although I live in a large, well-lighted apartment complex, it is located next to an undeveloped landscape that is probably full of Pack Rats. And since I have been isolating myself because of the coronavirus, I have rarely been driving my vehicle, and those dang Pack Rats saw an opportunity they couldn’t resist.

Strobe lights beneath a vehicle are about the only remedy that works against the Pack Rats, although some have suggested that the rats don’t like the scent of Irish Spring soap. I tried that remedy when the danged critters were first discovered under the hood of my RV parked at my daughter’s home. I think the rats used it as just another chew toy.

Danged-nab-it.

I guess I’m just going to have to at least drive my car around the block every day – or take it and Scamp for a scenic drive somewhere in the Pack Rat’s Sonoran Desert home. Actually, I like that last idea.

Bean Pat: To kind, caring and loving people all over the world who, I optimistically believe, make up the majority of earth’s population

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.

Gloria and Me

Gloria Steinem, still speaking out for equal rights for all. — Wikimedia photo

“At my age … people often ask me if I’m passing the torch. I explain that I’m keeping my torch, thank you very much, and I’m using it to light the torches of others.” — Gloria Steinem

The Times Are a Changin

Gloria Steinem was a magazine journalist, just five years older than me, who was at the forefront of the fight for civil rights and women’s equality at the same time I was a working mother who was a newspaper reporter. She is now 86 to my 81 and she still has fire in her.

This magnet hangs on my refrigerator to remind me there is still life to be lived.

In a recent NY Times interview, Gloria said, “The progress we’ve made is not sufficient, but there is an advantage to being old. I have a role to play in the movement by saying, ‘Here’s when it was worse.”

I, too, remember when it was worse. I had a boss who told me I was the hardest worker in the office. Then I discovered that the guys in the office were making three times my meager salary. When I asked my boss’s boss, who controlled the purse strings, for a raise, he said it was hard for him to consider giving me a raise when all the men in the office had families to support.

I pointed out that all the men in my office currently had working wives, and that I was putting my then husband through college and was the sole support of him and my five children. “Oh,” was all he said. I got my raise. Such a situation hadn’t even occurred to him.

When Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Magazine was published for the first time in 1972, it was the same time I was fighting for equal pay for equal work.

Also, while I wasn’t raised to be a bigot, and Blacks were never disparaged in our home, I was indoctrinated by the teaching “separate but equal.” I heard the phrase often, and saw evidence of it growing up in the 1940s and ‘50s, with White and Black Only water fountain and restroom signs being the most common.

It wasn’t until I saw beyond what I had been taught growing up, while covering school integration issues as a reporter, that I quickly discovered how unequal things truly were. Reading books about the issues gave me even more insight.

Being a journalist reporting on the true facts, let me feel I was doing something positive to change things for the better. It gave me a false hope that true equality would actually happen. Maybe it will but it hasn’t yet.

Meanwhile, being retired and an old broad has made me feel helpless that there was nothing more I could do to make the world a kinder, fairer, better place in which to live. But reading that my elder journalist sister Gloria is still out there promoting equal right issues for all, made me rethink my plight.

I can still speak out against injustices. I can write letters promoting fairness and kindness. I can publicly support Black Lives Matter. Yes, all lives do matter but that is not the issue), And I can vote for people who give a damn about all America’s people.

Thank you, Gloria, for relighting my fire.

Bean Pat: To old broads everywhere who still have fire in them and who try to make the world a better place for all.

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.