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Snow in Tucson

“The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love.: — Margaret Atwood

The view this morning from my living room balcony. — Photo by Pat Bean

Yea! A Pajama Day

I sat comfortably near my Living Room window this morning, drinking cream-laced coffee, reading the New York Times, and watching snow fall outside. What a great moment.

Pepper would rather watch the snow than walk in it. — Photo by Pat Bean

It made up for the fact that just a short time earlier, I had walked my canine companion Pepper in drizzling rain. Neither of us was too happy about it. Thankfully, instead of her usual dawdling, Pepper did her business quickly and headed briskly back to the stairs leading to our third-floor walkup apartment, where we both shook ourselves off before opening the door.

Pepper and those stairs are this old broad’s exercise program, so I’m not complaining.

Nor am I complaining about the snow. It’s a rare occurrence in Tucson, which sits in the Sonoran Desert. Besides, a snowy day is a good pajama day with a good book. I might even finish the two I am currently reading: Around the World in 50 Years by Albert Podell, and One More Warbler: A Life with Birds by Victor Emanuel and then start reading the next book on my reading list, My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Let it snow, let it snow.

Now available on Amazon

Bean Pat: Forest Garden https://forestgardenblog.wordpress.com/2019/02/22/still-learning-how-to-see/  Thoughtful words and powerful images.

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

What is Beauty?

Looking down from the top of Angel’s Landing. It’s a beautiful sight. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential and fight for your dreams.” – Ashley Smith

I recently came across a post that listed the 29 most beautiful places in America. I laughed at the audacity of such a list — even though I had visited 15 of them and agreed they were indeed beautiful. The word beautiful is totally subjective, especially if you give credence to the oft-quoted saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Of course, butterflies are beautiful, but so are dandelions, even in a manicured lawn. — Photo by Pat Bean

By this definition, as a birder, I think red, featherless and wrinkled newborn California condors are beautiful

Often, when people discover that I spent nine years in a small RV traveling this country from border-to-border and ocean-to-ocean, I’m asked: “What’s the most beautiful place you have visited.”

I’ve never had an answer to this question. I saw beauty not just in every state I visited, but every place I passed through. So, let me now be as audacious as the person who came up with that 29-most-beautiful-place list with my own list of things I consider beautiful.

Well, maybe not quite so audacious. I won’t use the adjective “most” and I’ll keep the list to 10 and invite readers to add the remaining 19.

1 – A bright yellow dandelion bursting up from a manicured, green lawn.

2 – A smile on the wrinkled face of a man or woman whose years on earth have been many.

3 – A red-tailed hawk circling above with the sun illuminating its red tail feathers.

Mesa Falls in Idaho. I’ve never seen an ugly waterfall. Have you? — Photo by Pat Bean

4 – Just about any waterfall in the world.

5 – An act of kindness in any form.

6 – Dark, stormy days that are ideal for staying indoors and reading.

7 – Two trees growing together as if in eternal friendship.

8 – A trail that beckons one to follow and discover Mother Nature’s wonders.

9 – The view from the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park.

10 – Fresh, home-baked brownies.

Now, feel free to share the beautiful places or things that you would add to this list.

Now available on Amazon

Bean Pat: Beautiful wildlife https://sfkfsfcfef.wordpress.com/2019/02/20/lens-artists-photo-challenge-nature/

          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

New York Library Lions

“When I have bad days, I just eat chocolate ice cream and dance to the “Lion King” soundtrack. It’s really odd, but it’s true.” Blake Lively

I discovered that this now out of print book about New York Cities Top Cats can be bought for $40 used.

Two Top Cats 

 

I recently started attending a writing group at my local library. It’s about the sixth group I’ve attended, searching for one that fit me, since moving to Tucson a few years ago. The others were all quite nice, but not exactly what I needed as a writer. This last one fits me perfectly. It’s a small group of serious writers who want to become both better writers and published writers.

Fortitude

That’s me — exactly.

During weekly meetings, up to six members submit a short piece for critique by the other writers in attendance. One of the more recent pieces was quite polished and excellent.  It was a section from an essay about the National Census, with a focus on counting the homeless in New York City.  The author used the two New York Public Library lion statues as an analogy, noting that they looked out and saw all. It was a piece of writing that I wished I had written, perhaps because of my long intrigue about the history of those two lions.

This native Texan, who has always lived well West of the East, has been blessed to have spent time in that magical – well you can’t be a writer and not think of it in that way – New York Library three times. And on each visit, I spent part of that time staring at those two killer felines, who are the stars in the book Top Cats: The Life and Times of the New York Public Library Lions published in 2006.  I would have bought the book when I discovered it had been written, except it is out of print and a used copy these days is selling for $40.  Instead, I tracked down what information I could about them from free website sources that included  Wikimedia, the New York Library, and New York City history pages.

Patience

What I discovered, briefly, first from Henry Hope Reed’s book, The New York Public Library, is that sculptor Edward Clark Potter was paid $8,000 to create the modeling for the two lions and the Piccirilli Brothers carved the statues for $5,000 using pink Tennessee marble. The lions were completed in time for the library’s official dedication in 1911.

Not particularly admired at first, The New York Times, which kept a close watch on the public reaction to the sculptures, reported that letter writers found the lions too tame. They were “mealy-mouthed,” “complacent,” and “squash-faced.” One critic compared their appearance to a cross between a hippopotamus and a cow and declared them “monstrosities.”

The lions were first called Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, after The New York Public Library founders John Jacob Astor and James Lenox. Later, they were known as Lady Astor and Lord Lenox – even though they are both male lions.

In the 1930s, they were renamed Patience and Fortitude for the qualities New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia felt New Yorkers needed to survive The Depression. These names stuck. Patience guards the south side of the Library’s steps and Fortitude the north.

After World War II, the two began to symbolize holidays – wreaths and floral arrangements accompanied seasonal changes and sports fandom, with Mets or Yankees hats sometimes perched atop their heads.

Decades of pigeon deposits, climbing children, and decoration eventually took its toll. In 2004, the city spent two weeks and $114,000 to steam-clean and scrub the lions with a toothbrush before applying mortar to expanding cracks.

I think a revisit to Patience and Fortitude, and that magical library, is back on my ever-growing bucket list, which for this wandering-wonderer never seems to get any shorter.

Bean Pat: Brevity https://brevity.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/how-to-be-a-writer-in-five-steps/ Good writing advice for those of us with words in our brains that cry to be let out. This is one of my favorite blogs 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

“We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.” John Hope Franklin

The Four Hoodoos in Devil’s Garden. — Wikimedia photo

Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument 

It was an April day in 1997, just a few months after the creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. I was on assignment as a reporter to write a story about this wild Southern Utah Landscape. And for four days, I wandered through its nearly 2 million acres* of mostly wild, uninhabited lands.

The explorations included a drive on the then unpaved Burr Trail, about which I wrote about the impressive silence away from the hum of refrigerators. Another day, I drove the Hogsback stretch of Highway 12, which some have called the most beautiful road in America. The Hogsback portion follows a narrow high mesa flanked by deep canyons on either side. If you’ve ever driven it you can never forget it.

It was an amazing journey and I was one lucky reporter to have been assigned to write about this magnificent landscape.

Metate Arch in Devil’s Garden. — Wikimedia photo

This day, my last before heading back to Ogden in Northern Utah, found me in a place called Devil’s Garden, located off Highway 12 about 17 miles southeast of Escalante. Except for the photographer accompanying me on this assignment, and he was off somewhere on his own, I was alone in this isolated place of strange red rock formations.

There was a slight breeze that made the day a bit too cool in the shade, and a hot sun above that made it a bit too warm outside of it. The undersides of the few fluffy clouds overhead were pin-tinged, a reflection from the red rocks, I assumed. The shadows among the rock formations were deep as if holding a mystery that demanded to be explored..

Occasionally I would hear a bird chirp, but mostly it was silent. It was peaceful. I was content. All the cares of the world, my hectic life, my worries. The didn’t exist. It’s nice to go back to that place every once in a while — if only in my memories.

*In 2017, President Trump reduced the size of the Grand-Staircase Escalante Monument to 1.3 million acres

Bean Pat: Derby Poo Ponds http://www.10000birds.com  A great place to find birds.

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

Hometown Brags

Welcome sign at the entrance to Hico, Texas. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

 “I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.” — Lily Tomlin

Say What?

When entering a new town while I was living on the road in a small RV with my canine companion Maggie, I was often greeted by bragging welcome signs.

My favorite was the one that greeted me as I drove into the small Texas town of  Hico: “Where Everybody is Somebody.”

If you visit Knox during Horse Thief Days, don’t forgt to buy a T-shirt.

That was much better than Knox’s claim to fame as ‘The Horse Thief Capital of the World.’ The name referred to a former resident, Sebastian “Boss” Buck, who got rich by stealing horses and printing fake money. Unashamed of its past, the Pennsylvania town holds an annual event called Horse Thief Days that is popular with residents and visitors alike.

Seven cities, meanwhile, claim to be the Watermelon Capital of the World: Cordelle, Georgia; Weatherford and Naples, Texas; Green River, Utah; Beardstown, Illinois; Rush Springs, Oklahoma; and Hope, Arkansas. Common sense says six of them are exaggerating.

Show Low, Arizona, meanwhile, proclaims itself as the only city named by the turn of a card, which occurred during a poker game between rival ranchers. The pair agreed to draw cards, and the one who got the lowest got to keep the land and start the town.

Certainly, one of the weirdest claims to fame is held by Berrien Springs. This Michigan town calls itself “The Christmas Pickle Capital of the

The Christmas Pickle

World.”  There are several tall tales about how the Christmas Pickle came to be, but the most common one is that Santa Claus saved two boys who had been imprisoned in a pickle barrel by an innkeeper who had stolen all their possessions.

Berrien Springs, located in a pickle-producing community, celebrates the pickle with an annual parade led by the Grand Dillmeister, who hands out pickles along the route. Entrepreneurs, meanwhile, hype the tradition to sell pickle ornaments, pickle earrings and even chocolate covered pickles.

I searched for my current home town’s claim to fame, but found nothing definitive. But if I had to name one, I would say Tucson is the World Capital of Saguaro Cacti.

So, what’s your town’s claim to fame?

Bean Pat: A morning walk with observant eyes https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2019/01/28/more-from-nature-on-december-25-2018/ 

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

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