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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.

From My Balcony: Wowzer!

White-Eared Hummingbird. — Wikimedia photo

The sound of birds stops the noise in my mind.” – Carly Simon

White-Eared Hummingbird

I loafed through the past three days, which seemed an appropriate thing to do for a holiday weekend stuck at home. I binged on old Survivor seasons, walked my dog, had a night out playing Frustration and drinking Jack and coke with an adult granddaughter who also lives in my apartment complex, read a lot — and let my apartment get a bit dusty.

I live in the desert and you need to dust almost every day just to keep up with the blowing sand, which is thick enough that occasionally the night sky has a pink haze to it because of sand particles in the air. I was quite amazed the first time I saw this phenomenon.

White=Eared Hummingbird. — Audubon Field Guide

And I was just as amazed at the unexpected sight I saw this morning when I was sitting on my balcony with my morning coffee and writing out my to-do list, a bit lengthier today because of my lazy weekend.

Sitting on the table next to me was my ever-faithful pair of Leica bird-watching binoculars. Several familiar hummingbirds were flitting about the trees and my nectar feeder, mostly Anna’s, easy to identify because of the bright magenta feathers on their necks and head.

And then one flew in that was a bit different, a Broad-Billed, I assumed from its coloring and bill, and the fact they it is one of the more common hummers  I see at my nectar feeder, But it looked a bit odd, so I picked up my binoculars for a closer look as it sat peering at me from a nearby tree branch.

It had a wide white strip of feathers that stretched from above its eye almost to its neck, and not a hummingbird I was familiar with. But a quick flip through my favorite field guide let me know I was looking at a White-Eared Hummingbird. Wowzer!

This was a lifer, a bird that I was seeing for the first time. The 712th bird for my personal bird list. It was a big thing because it was the first new bird I had seen all year.

The White-Eared is a Central American hummer that barely crosses the Mexico border into Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. And I got quite a good look at it, and even heard its distinctive tink-tink-tink voice as it fed at my nectar feeder.

What a great way to start the day.

Bean Pat: To Roger Tory Peterson, who published the first modern birding field guide that made it possible for non-ornithologists like me to identify the birds they see. I love the Peterson field guides, but my favorite for birding is

Travels with Maggie tracks my earlier birding days, when my bird list was only in the 400s. Check it out on Amazon. You might be able to read it free.

National Geographic’s Birds of North America, in which I keep a record of my first bird species sightings. I currently use the sixth edition.

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.

 

Joy is taking pleasure in little things, especially in nature. — Photo by Pat Bean

Political foolery, political bullying, political lying, political egotism, political shenanigans and political partisanship favored over what’s in the best interest of this country make me want to scream. And scream, and scream! I feel this way partly because I feel helpless to change things for the better.

Joy is my canine companion Scamp. — Photo by Pat Bean

What this country needs is a political party that’s not so far right, and not so far left, and is devoted to truth and facts. I would call it the Common Sense Party. All in favor, please stand up and say AYE!

I’m assuming the idea passed, so now all someone has to do is create it.

Meanwhile, since I need to stay sane during these chaotic times, I’ve started a list of things that give me joy. I try to put something on it daily. Here are a few recent joys from my list.

Joy is my third-floor balconies that look out on the Catalina Mountains, proving me a daily show of their changing moods

Joy is the almost daily phone call from one of my sons who tries to keep up with his old-broad mom, and the daily email chat I have with a daughter-in-law who has taken on the responsibility of being my guardian angel.

Joy is a hot bath in a deep tub, hot enough to turn the skin pink and send warmth and ease all the way down to my bones.

Joy is a call from a 10-year-old grandson who is reading the Dr. Doolittle books I so loved as a child, and who is loving them, too.

Joy is me getting to hold my great-granddaughter Cora. — Photo by T.C. Ornelas

Joy is getting a snail-mail letter from a friend, or from one of my grandchildren.

Joy is playing a competitive game of Frustration with my oldest granddaughter and her wife, and cussing and laughing a lot as we play.

Joy is solving and fixing a computer glitch all by myself — after an unsuccessful hour on the phone with a computer expert.

          Joy is my dog Scamp, who is my companion, bedmate and exercise trainer. Having to walk him up and down three flights of stairs daily has become my foolproof exercise plan.

Joy is listening to the gurgling sound of coffee brewing, and smelling its toasty aroma while it is still dark outside.

Joy is sitting my butt in a chair and writing – or reading.

Bean Pat: Watching birds is one of the things that always give me joy, like watching these West Texas humming bird feeders on one of Cornell University’s live bird cams. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/west-texas-hummingbirds/

Available on Amazon.

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 two-week safari in Africa was certainly a mile-marker in my life. Here I’m standing at an overlook of the Ngorongoro Crater in front of a sign with mile markers to various cities around the world. — Photo by Kim Perrin

My Story Circle’s writing prompt this month was to write about life’s mile markers. I chose to create a 10 point list of people who helped get me through some of those times.  Here’s my list – which easily could have been much longer.

1: My grandmother. During my early years, the only person I was for sure loved me was my grandmother. Our dysfunctional family lived with her. She was not a sweet granny, although she cooked like one, but a woman with strong opinions and standards that she expected to be met – and she favored a supple switch to the back of the legs if they weren’t.  But I could outrun her and she had a quick-to-forgive nature. Sadly, she died when I was 11.

2: My mother, although I wouldn’t realize or accept it until I was in my mid-30s. She, too, was a strong woman, one who took what life allowed her before equal rights was even considered. She loved her four children but was not vocal about it, or a hugger. She was the rock that made sure the family had food on the table and a bed under a roof to sleep in at night. She was not a complainer but a doer.

3: A cadre of “village” women – Dorothy, Louise, Jeri – who took a too-young woman with five children under their wings and supported her until she could get her own feet on the ground.

Kim and I shared Africa together, and here is a photo of us after a very long, but wonderful, day of bouncing in the back of a Land Rover over the Serengeti.

4: Roberta, the city editor who pushed a wanna-be writer and would-be reporter over and over again to the crying point, teaching her how to become a professional and ethical journalist who would go on to have a successful 37-year award-winning career in the newspaper industry.

5: David, a gay man and my reporter colleague at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, who supported me during the hardest two years of my personal life, which included divorce and family failures.

6: Cliff Cheney, a managing editor who believed in my journalism potential. He hired me for a very difficult job, and when I whined after undertaking it, and asked him why he had done this to me, he sat back, put his feet on his desk, and said: “Because I knew you could handle it Pat.” He died in a car accident that very night, but his words empowered me for rest of my career.

7: My friend Kim, who has been in my life for 40 years now. We fill each other’s holes because we are two very different people. We have worked together, played together, celebrated birthdays together, hiked together, argued together, traveled together, gotten lost together, and these days Zoom together because we now live in two different states. My life is richer because Kim is part of it.

A recent Facebook picture of my friend Jean, who is a teacher and having her own mile-marker moments of learning to teach online. She makes me smile and laugh.

8: All the wonderful, talented women in Story Circle Network who helped me find my personal, non-journalistic voice after I retired.  Without the support of this group, my book Travels with Maggie would never have been published.  This group also keeps me daily in touch with like-minded, caring intelligent women who encourage this old broad to keep writing.

9: My friend Jean, who like Kim is as different from me as night and day. It is the best kind of friend to have because it ensures that life is never boring. Jean is part of my daily life here in Tucson, the kind of friend this old broad needs to stay on her toes. Jean challenges me to continue thinking outside my comfortable box, brings the world into my apartment where I’ve tended to get too comfortable, and makes me laugh. She’s my Happy Hour a couple of times a week, and the person my kids call when I go missing for more than a few hours.

10: Last, but certainly not least, is my family. I have five children and their families, 15 grandchildren and their families, and seven great-grandchildren. I have a different relationship with each, am closer to some than others, but all have a place in my heart. I regularly learn from them. They fuel my life and make it feel meaningful.

 

 

 

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Scott’s Oriole — Wikimedia photo

A Colorful Walk

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

Walking my canine companion Scamp early every morning is both a chore and a pleasure. Living in a third-floor apartment with no yard means it’s something that must be daily done – and at the first glimpse of dawn when I’m awakened by a dog sticking his cold nose in my face. If that doesn’t work, Scamp drapes his 40-pound body on top of mine and begins to whine.

You can read more about Maggie and her adventures with her mistress in Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

I have no choice but to get up, throw on some clothes and get his leash. Every morning I do this, I think of my former dog Maggie. She, as anyone who knew her would tell you, was a spoiled brat, but she liked to sleep in and so I got to wake up at my leisure not hers.

But by the time Scamp and I are going down the stairs, often with the moon still visible in the morning sky, the pleasure of being out and about so early, with rarely another soul in sight, takes hold of me.

After Scamp waters a tree, he begins a slow exploratory stop-and-go trot to the dog park where he likes to do his more serious business. We live at the top of the apartment complex and it’s at the bottom, leaving me with plenty of time to observe the sights around me.

The first thing that caught my attention this morning were eight white-winged doves sitting on a utility line. Mostly all I could see were dark profiles, emphasizing their individual shapes. Six looked exactly alike while one appeared skinnier and one fatter, the latter with a tail a bit longer than the others. Seven of the doves were facing away from me, but the one at the farthest edge faced toward me. I wondered what they were all thinking.

As we turned a corner, my eye was then caught by three large round bushes that were covered in bright purple flowers. The bushes had been trimmed a few days earlier by the apartment’s gardeners, and it seemed to me as if they had simply bloomed overnight. Or had I simply not seen them the day before?

The color purple always stops me for a better look when I see it in nature. Pictured here is a Rose of Sharon blossom.

Finally, Scamp — whom I let lead during his morning walks because once the day warms his walks are quick and short because this old broad doesn’t do well in the heat – headed back to our apartment for his breakfast. My own mind at this point was focused on the cup of cream-laced coffee that awaited me.

But as we began walking up the stairs, I got distracted by some movement in a nearby tree. I stopped to look more closely and was rewarded with a flash of yellow and black before a bird flew directly in front of me. It was a Scott’s oriole. While common in Southeast Arizona, one doesn’t see this oriole species often. As an avid birder I was thrilled at the sight – and immediately forgave Scamp for waking me so early.

Bean Pat: As one who wants to identify all the plants I see on my walks, I love this blog. Perhaps you will, too. https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/

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.

This display of metal flowers reminded me of the colors of my tye-dye T-shirts, which I wore during the 1960s — and still wear today. — Photo by Pat Bean

I was walking my canine companion Scamp through my apartment complex parking lot this morning when a bumper sticker caught my eye – and sent my mind reeling back to the 1960s.

Make Love Not War, it read.

I watched those hippy-flowerchild years from the sidelines, changing diapers the first half of the decade, and being a naïve reporter thrown into the midst of the Vietnam War protests the last three years.

Having three young sons, whom I never wanted to have to go to war, I thought the slogan was a good one.

A sign for the 1960s is still pertinent today.

The ‘60s also marked the beginning of the battle to approve the Equal Rights Amendment. As a working woman earning less than my male colleagues, I also thought it was a good idea. Not all women back then did, however, and one asked me: “Do you want your daughter to go to war?”

“Of course not,” I replied. “But then I don’t want my sons to go to war either.”

It’s been over half a century since I first heard those four words,  “Make Love Not War.” Three of my five children joined the military. One son spent 10 years in the Army, one daughter spent 10 years in the Navy, and one son make the Army his career, serving over 35 years for this country.

I’m proud of them – but sad that war is still ongoing on this planet. And probably always will be according a book I recently read: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.

Still, that Make Love Not War bumper sticker comforted me this morning, letting me know I wasn’t aloe in wanting everyone to just get along. It also set my brain to recalling the words to a song written in 1955 for the International Children’s Choir. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…

At this point, Scamp noticed a mourning dove on the ground and attempted to give chase, forcing me to pull back hard on his leash. The action forced my brain back to my present surroundings, where the sun was just coming up, birds were chittering, a slight breeze was blowing through my hair – and someone had dropped a coronavirus protective mask on the ground by their car.

As Forest Gump’s mom said: Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

    Bean Pat: Take a break from coronavirus news and look for moose on Michigan’s Isle Royale. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/27/travel/moose-michigan-isle-royale.html?campaign.

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 think this image of three dragonflies is quite representative of my brain last night. It was flitting all over the place. — Art by Pat Bean

“The community which has neither poverty or riches will always have the noblest principle.” – Plato

Morning Rant

Ever have one of those nights when your brain gets stuck on an endless circular track and you can’t stop its roar? I had one of those last night. It started with me thinking about the coronavirus and news stories about attempts to hack the vaccine studies.

The thinking is that a successful vaccine will be worth billions of dollars to its creators, so every little forward movement toward the goal is carefully hoarded and guarded. Perhaps, my little gray cells started calculating, if all that information were shared a vaccine might already have been discovered.

I call this little piece of art peaceful night. Mine wasn’t last night. — Art by Pat Bean

After being on that track for a while, my brain switched to the news story of Jeff Bezos making billions of dollars in one day, which had me thinking about all the hard-working people in this country who somehow exist on lean paychecks.

I’ve done that all my life – and am actually proud of it. I’ve always had enough food to eat, a roof over my head, and enough clothes to wear, even if the food was mostly basic, the roof not gigantic, and sometimes the clothes came from a thrift shop.

These days I feel rich because I can afford to buy books when I want them, although I admit I would do a bit more traveling if my pocketbook was heavier.

But how can one spend billions of dollars on themselves, I ask? As I look around at the richest of the rich, it seems they buy things more to show they are rich than anything else. I don’t deny them their extras and luxuries, but when is too much actually too much?

On the other hand, I’m not a bleeding-heart liberal. I don’t believe able-bodied people should be given handouts, but should have to work for their livelihoods. A welfare check needs to come with a job. Such a program worked once – Civilian Conservation Corps – and I believe it can again. Child care, teacher’s aides, road maintenance, litter clean-up, elderly companions, just to name a few currently being paid for with tax dollars.

But I also believe that the people at the top, whose riches depend on work done by employees, should start handing out huge raises to loyal employees. It seems only fair that the wealth be shared. Thus, went my brain last night. It finally ended up right back where it started. If researchers and drug companies shared their findings, actually caring more about ending the suffering then for themselves, would we already have a working vaccine?

You can read more about my visit to Scarborough Marsh in Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

Bean Pat: Nature: https://naturehasnoboss.com / One of my favorite blogs. Few words and always a great insight into nature, like today’s photo of a ruffed grouse. Such images soothe me after a sleepless night.

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 watched this Limpkin during my month-long winter exploration of the Everglades. But I used my computer to educate myself about its ranges and habits.

“Our computers have become windows through which we can gaze upon a world that is virtually without horizons or boundaries.”

Learning New Tricks

I was working for the Fort Worth Star-telegram back in the 1970s when technology first invaded my life. It came in the form of a newfangled thing called a computer that suddenly we reporters had to type our stories on. I was certain I couldn’t do it.

It took me two weeks — during which I would use the typewriter to write, then copy what I had written onto the computer — before I realized I actually could write on the dang technological wonder. That was early enough in the computer age that the computers assigned to us reporters would only allow editing of eight lines of copy before it couldn’t be changed any more,

Not such a wonder at all compared to my next run in with using a computer at the Standard-Examiner in

This was a view visible from my bedroom balcony a few weeks ago. But to learn more about the fire that was ravaging Arizona’s Catalina Mountain Range, I went online to read the news about the blaze. 

Ogden, Utah, where I had accepted a job as lifestyle editor in late 1979. This newspaper used a Morgenthaler computer system that taught me how to cuss.

While there was no limit on lines that could be edited, the machines had a tendency to suddenly shut down and everything that had not been saved was lost. Because I would often forget to push the save button frequently. I sometimes lost whole stories I had spent hours writing.

Then there were the computers at the Times-News in Twin Falls, Idaho, where I was regional editor for a couple of years. The Times’ computers suffered from a storage problem. They sometimes began eating copy that had been edited at the start of the day. My cussing improved at the Times.

When I returned to the Standard-Examiner as assistant city editor in 1985, things were better, but my attitude toward computers had changed. While I had been determined in those early years to learn everything I could about operating a computer, all I wanted to know now was which button to push so the danged thing would do what I wanted it to do instead of what it wanted to do.

I relied on the paper’s tech guys immensely, and they always came through the numerous times I called on them. Having zero patience, I had the habit of too quickly pushing every button on the keyboard when something didn’t happen quickly enough. The teckies nicknamed me Trouble.

My personal first computer, purchased around 1987 if I remember correctly and which I frequently crashed, didn’t even have a hard drive but came with a DOS operating system.  Out of curiosity, I just looked up DOS on Wikipedia and learned that it stands for Disk Operating System and that it had a 16-bit operating system that didn’t support multitasking. My grandkids were more comfortable operating it than I was.

I’m not sure how many personal computers I’ve gone through since then, but I do know that early on I replaced them every two or three years because they so quickly became outdated.

When I retired in 2004 and began nine years of living and traveling on the road in a small RV, I bought my first laptop, and used my phone as a modem to submit freelance stories. In 2006, I got a Verizon hot spot that worked sometimes, but mostly in larger towns. By the time I got off the road in 2013, it mostly worked everywhere.

Thankfully, while my patience hasn’t improved, my latest laptop computer is usually reliable and fast enough to keep me from randomly pushing buttons. I still, however, miss my teckies when my computer does misbehave. But then I am extremely proud of myself when I finally solve the problem on my own — usually after hours and hours of trying everything before finally reading the instructions.

I’ve gone from growing up without a home television until I was 14 to not being able to live without a computer. I use it for writing, submitting freelance articles, emailing and face-timing with friends and family, reading the news, playing games, taking educational classes, learning new skills, birdwatching (live cams and YouTube), storing my writing and photographs, armchair traveling, shopping, and watching television programs and movies since I don’t own a TV. I also use my computer daily to quench my curiosity when I want to know something – like what DOS stands for.

I guess an old broad, this one born almost 25 years before the first commercial computer went on the market, can learn new tricks.

Bean Pat: Cornell University for its Bird Lab live birding cams that let me birdwatch from my bedroom chair during the coronavirus. Thank you. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/

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.

 

 

“Perfect is overrated.” – Tina Fey

Burr Trail switchbacks through Waterpocket Fold on the back way to Capital Reef National Park.

 

Back when I was an environmental reporter for the Standard-Examiner in Ogden, Utah, there was an ongoing battle about what Southern Utah wilderness areas should be protected. One of the battle issues involved the Burr Trail that begins in the small, off-the-beaten-track town of Boulder. The four-wheel drive, mostly unpaved road takes adventurers through a spectacular landscape to Capital Reef National Park and/or Lake Powell’s Bullfrog Marina in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Hoodoos at sunrise in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

I’ve driven the trail twice, once just for the sightseeing, then again with a photographer for a newspaper story shortly after the area was included as part of The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument that was designated by President Bill Clinton in 1996 – and more recently in 2020 reduced in size by the current man in charge at the White House.

Today, the first 30 miles of the 69-mile or so backroad is paved, which is more than when I traveled it.

I still remember those journeys vividly. Being away from all signs of human activity, surrounded by Mother Nature’s works untouched by development without even the mechanical hum of a refrigerator was soul renewing

I remember stopping at one breathtaking view and getting out of the vehicle to take it all in. It was one of those moments in my life when I felt I was exactly where I should be exactly when I should be.

Those moments have been rare, as I spent most of my life racing from one place to the next, hurrying to meet the expectations of both myself and others. I’ve met about half of those expectations, but until this season of my life never stopped to appreciate the outcomes.

While I don’t like the current social isolation so many of us are experiencing, I do like this quieter winter of my years. It has become the season for me to both learn new things, because I have time to read and study, and to make sense of my own history.

Each day I create a to-do list of more things I want to accomplish before day’s end than there are minutes and hours to accomplish. Thus, I have a starting point and a reason to wake up the next morning.

But when I first started this habit more than a half century ago, I actually expected to complete all the many listed tasks and heartily berated myself for failing. Foolish me!

Having accepted my limitations is why I copied the following quote by Dorothy Gillman in my journal when I came across it not too long ago while reading her memoir A New Kind of Country.

“… all of must grow inside or die, that it’s given to us to live, not on a straight line but a line that slants upwards, so that at the end, having begun at Point A, we may have reached, not Z, but certainly an ascension to I or J.”

I’m not sure I would have understood those words in my younger years. I guess it was the right time for me to read them. Just as the 1990s’ were the right time for me to drive the Burr Trail and explore the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, which I hope still belongs to all Americans when our children’s children are old enough to appreciate public lands.

Bean Pat: To all the utility workers in Tucson who got our power back on after the wind storm this week, and to all the others out there who continue to work at risk to themselves during this coronavirus pandemic, and to all those out in public who wear masks to keep not just themselves but others safe.

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.

Into every life, flowers should fall. So here’s mine to you for today. — Art by Pat Bean

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. John Adams

When I was city editor, I attended a daily meeting to decide what five or so stories would go on my newspaper’s front page for the upcoming edition.

The men – I say men because except for me the only other people in the room were usually all male — and I pretty much agreed without much discussion on four of the stories.

The fifth story, however, almost always prompted disagreement – even among the men. It came down to news judgment, although I must admit that my choice of the last story to be chosen was often gender based and I would end up being the lone holdout for one particular story or another. Sometimes I won the argument and sometimes I lost.

But I was always a proponent of the policy that a newspaper was obliged to print what readers needed to know, not what they wanted to know. And although my colleagues were of a different gender, with perhaps a different outlook, we all still shared that sentiment.

And then the Internet came along and took newspapers’ main source of funding away, advertisements. The after effects were just beginning to be felt a few years before I retired in 2004. I will always remember the day it affected my newspaper’s coverage.

An assistant managing editor proposed that a Britney Spears story be placed on the front page. In my mind that was equal to blasphemy. Only “real” news belonged out front. Celebrity news belonged inside on the entertainment page.  But only myself and one other editor in the room that day felt that way — and we were overruled.

That one move, in my opinion, downgraded the newspaper. But similar moves were being made all across the country, the idea being that if you give the readers what they want to read, they will continue to buy the paper, or whatever product is being marketed.

It was a sad day, in my opinion, for journalism.

But it’s a practice that is prevalent in today’s world. For example, what you read online is a good example. The number of times a story is visited – it’s called hits – the more likely you are to see more and more similar stories.

So, if a story on what Brad Pitt has for breakfast gets a million hits and a story on global warming gets only a thousand, that should explain why there is so much celebrity gossip being written and talked about than the kind of news we should know.

My brain follows that idea by thinking about the zillions and zillions of people who are clicking on Prince Harry and Meagan Markle stories. We are getting what we are asking for.

As Pogo said: We have met the enemy and he is us.

Just something to think about as you read today’s news online.

My canine companion Scamp

Bean Pat: To all the media outlets that continue to stick to facts and write about what readers need to know. And yes, there are still some, and I hope you are daily reading or listening to one.

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.