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Archive for the ‘African Safari’ Category

            “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” – Herm Albright

Perhaps I also like to watch Survivor and American Ninja Warrior because I'm a bit of an adrenalin junkie who can imagine herself as one of the participants. Which is why it was such a thrill for me to go for a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti.

Perhaps I also like to watch Survivor and American Ninja Warrior because I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie who can imagine herself as one of the participants. Which is why it was such a thrill for me to go for a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti.

An Aha Moment

I don’t have a TV, which is fine with me. The few programs I want to watch (Survivor, Amazing Race and NCIS, primarily), I can get on my computer.

Thankfully, these days I can get just as much of an adrenalin high from simply watching birds and butterflies.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Thankfully, these days I can get just as much of an adrenalin high from simply watching birds and butterflies. — Photo by Pat Bean

But this past week, while I was house sitting three dogs, two cats and two fish, at my daughter’s house while she and her family went on vacation, I found myself plunked down much too often in front of their big-screen monster.

I was amazed at both how many channels they had, and how few programs – after my marathon NCIS day – on television that were worth watching. My channel surfing ended when I clicked on a program called American Ninja Warrior. Fortunately the actual program, and not the endless commercials, was showing or I would have just kept clicking.

I hate violence and would have assumed that this was what the show was all about. It wasn’t. It simply involved a very difficult obstacle course that hundreds of athletes were attempting to complete. More failed than made it.

But almost without exception, those who tried were cheered by all, even their opponents, and those who failed smiled and said, “I’ll be back next year.”

And with those last words, I finally understood my attraction to such television programs as Survivor, of which I’ve long been a fan despite it being a game that encourages lying and deceit as part of the game. It’s the contestants who pick themselves up and continue onward, even when there is little to no hope, that I find so compelling.

I love that attitude. It is one writers who get rejection slips – and believe me I’ve had a ton of them – must have to keep going.

Bean Pat:  Zoo Stroll http://tinyurl.com/ldnf7y2 Take an armchair stroll through Smithsonian National Zoological Park.

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I learned to identify birds, like this lilac-breasted roller, one bird at a time, which is the same approach Anne Lamott suggests we use for writing. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I learned to identify birds, like this lilac-breasted roller, one bird at a time, which is the same approach Anne Lamott suggests we use for writing. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.” – Anne Lamott

Who Gives the Best Advice?

My favorite book about writing is Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird,” which by the way is also a good book for how to live your life.

Anne-Lamott-2013-San-Francisco

Anne Lawmott — Wikimedia photo

In it, Anne quotes E.L. Doctorow, who once said that “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

She thought it was right up there with the best advice on writing she had ever heard. So do I.

I also identify with this quote by Anne:” “Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstance, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it, and find out the truth about who you are.”

As I said, “Bird by Bird,” is about living as much as writing.

As for her advice that perfectionism isn’t a good thing, I find myself fighting this battle each time I’m about half way through a writing project, and start thinking my writing is not good enough.

Then I find it’s time to take advice from a Nike slogan: “Just do it.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: A Recorder and Puberty  http://tinyurl.com/lhkptek This blog took me back to my parenting days, and I laughed because I got through them.

Bean Pat: Yellow-crowned heron http://tinyurl.com/ow8xjyu You can even find them in Queens New York.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves

            “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” Aristotle

Barn swallow nests with a curved opening. -- Photo by Pat Bean.

Barn swallow nests with a curved opening. — Photo by Pat Bean.

They Abound in Nature  

            I’ve flow across America many times, always if possible in a window seat, where I spent much time staring at the earth below. I found that the land was almost always sectioned off into an endless array of squares. We North American humans, it seems, like our boundaries straight and neat.

BeusPond1_May25_2007          I realized just how true that was  hen I flew in a plane over Kenya and Tanzania, where a landscape square was a rare thing.. Here the land retained much of its natural curves.

It was more picturesque, and I liked it better.

            Bean’s Pat: http://tinyurl.com/lez6u6y Follow along as a historic Lonely Planet Journey is recreated. It’s a fantastic armchair travel adventure for those of us who can’t afford to take the trip for real.

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            “Behaving like a princess is hard work. It’s not just about looking beautiful or wearing a crown. It’s more about how you are inside.” – Julie Andrews

I hope the hat wasn't expensive. It looks ridiculous. Of course that's just my opinion. -- Wikipedia photo

I hope the hat wasn’t expensive. It looks ridiculous. Of course that’s just my opinion. — Wikipedia photo

Forget Diana, I’m in Love with Kate

The media was all aghast the other day, and for the first time in my life I had real respect for royalty.

Kate, or to be more respectful, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who is married to the Duke of Cambridge and second-in-line to England’s throne, was caught wearing a $29 dress.

And she’s even been caught wearing a dress more than once in public.

Heaven forbid, or so the media paparazzi, implied. I thought how refreshing.

But then of course I’m a person whose entire wardrobe could be easily squeezed into one large suitcase. Clothes are not, and have never been, important to me. Expensive jewelry even less.

Of curse there are people who would say that I spend way too much money on travel and books. Above is a photo of a Masaai school in Tanzania. I spent a good bit of money to visit Africa, and these school children reminded me of how little some people have. The world is just not fair. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Of course there are people who would say that I spend way too much money on travel and books. Above is a photo of a Masaai school in Tanzania. I spent a good bit of money to visit Africa, and these school children reminded me of how little some people have. The world is just not fair. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve never understood why someone would spend thousands of dollars on one dress, even if it’s a wedding dress, or even thousands more for one ring to go on one finger.

I’ve always thought there were so many better ways to spend money, even if you don’t give some of it to the poor and hungry.

What do you think?

            Bean’s Pat: 20 Lines a Day http://tinyurl.com/mn4pg42 A simple Haiku, but original and it made me smile.

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A field of pansies. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A field of pansies. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

 

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” — Alice Walker

Pleasing colors -- Photo by Pat Bean

Pleasing colors — Photo by Pat Bean

Our flag is red, white and blue, but our nation is a rainbow.  – red, yellow, brown, black and white.

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Sometimes We Fly http://tinyurl.com/bts2nus This applies to humans as well. I loved the spirit behind this post.

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            “If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?” – Isak Dinesen, “Out of Africa”

Following the leader forward. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Following the leader forward. — Photo by Pat Bean

Africa

Balloon ride over the Serengeti: OK, which way is forward? -- Photo by Pat Bean

Balloon ride over the Serengeti: OK, which way is forward? — Photo by Pat Bean

            The first image that popped into my mind when I saw that “forward”  was the photo challenge topic this week were the long line of elephants that I watched trudge forward  in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. What an amazing sight..

            Then I thought about how the native guides were always going forward in search of Africa’s exotic wildlife to give me and my friend, Kim, the best possible safari experiences they could. They did well.

Holding my breath until this baby moves forward and rejoins his mom and brother -- Photo by Pat Bean

Holding my breath until this baby moves forward and rejoins his mom and brother — Photo by Pat Bean

         On the very last morning in the Serengeti, we watched a mama lion and two nearly grown offspring come forward toward us. The guide had seen them and had parked the Land Rover in an ideal situation so that would pass not too far from us.

            One of the young lions, however, took a detour and came over and scratched his back on one of our tires – the one I was standing above. It was both thrilling and frightening and I was glad when he went back to going forward toward his mom.

            Interesting how two weeks of some of the best travel days of my life became fresh again in my mind after hearing one single word.  

        

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

  Bean’s Pat: Winter’s Majesty http://tinyurl.com/b7d8zek A leaf and a simple poem that captures the best and worst of Chicago in the winter.

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 “There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect.” – G.K. Chesterton

This hot air balloon soaring over my daughter's horse corral was a delightful surprise for my morning. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Up, Up and Away

A common sight for my daughter's family was a rare delight for me. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Shortly after the sun came up this morning, I beheld a wondrous, rare sight. Well, at least for me. It’s one that my daughter’s family sees most mornings from their desert landscaped home that looks down on Tucson.

Soaring above their horse corral was a hot air balloon, low enough for me to hear the whoosh of the flames as they roared their hot air upward into the balloon to keep it aloft. I could also hear the low murmurs of its passengers as they looked down on the sights beneath them. I waved.

Of course I wished I were up there with them, floating along at the pace of the wind.

I’ve been in hot air balloons twice, once over the desert near Las Vegas, and once over Africa’s Serengeti. The joy of floating above the earth and observing it from the advantage of height flooded my memories.

What a fantastic way to start my day.

Bean’s Pat: LavendarDragonfly http://tinyurl.com/6tachfh This blogger would have loved my morning. May we all have such eyes to see the tiny miracles of life around us.

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  “Than indecision brings its own delays, and days are lost lamenting o’er lost days. Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute; What you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

My travel book would include details about my search for Mother Nature in places like the New Hampshire woods where I came across this peaceful creek. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Too Many Unfinished Projects

Writing a first draft of a 50,000 word novel in 30 days has given me confidence for the old-broad writing days that still remain to me. There’s no question that I will write, for doing so is for me the same as breathing. I was fortunate that I found a way as a journalist to do it almost daily and get paid for it for 37 years.

When I retired from the job, however, I never saw myself retiring as a writer. I thought I would continue as a free-lance writer of travel and birding articles.

The Internet changed all that, however. The sources I had, including writing for my own former newspaper, dried up after a couple of years.

Suddenly it was a whole new world out there, and I faced either changing or being satisfied with writing only for myself. But it’s never worked that way for me. I both want to be read and to be paid for my writing as a way of personal validation

 

The photo of this hippo I took while on my African safari appears in Fodor's recently released "African Safari Guidebook." -- Photo by Pat Bean

The other change in the world of writing has been that self-publication is no longer considered a vanity, as it was during earlier days. In fact, many writing guides and teachers are encouraging wanna-be authors to go this route.

I’m seriously considering the possibility.

My immediate problem, however, is which project should I tackle first. Until NaNo, I failed to complete any major projects that didn’t have a pay-off deadline. The reasons are many, beginning with my own self doubts about a project’s worth. As former NaNo winners predicted, this inner questioning hit during my second week of the novel challenge. Working past it felt great.

 

The bear at Lake Walcott State Park in Idaho -- Photo by Pat Bean

So, with this said, let me explain my options – at least as I see them. Actually, I think I’m writing this blog as a way to get my own head straight.

First, there is the NaNo novel, which my ego says has good possibilities. Ever since I was a teenager reading Nancy Drew, I’ve wanted to write a mystery. The NaNo one is my second. The first is one of those uncompleted projects that never went beyond the first draft.

Then there’s the travel book I’ve already written, which needs a bit of rewriting. It has been read by critics who gave it mostly thumbs up, although all said it needed my voice. I now think I’ve developed my voice.

It would be the quickest project to finish. It’s called “Travels With Maggie.” I said in an earlier hunt for an agent that I thought it would fit nicely on the book shelf between Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley” and Kuralt’s “On the Road” with a little bit of Tim Cahill thrown in and written with a feminine voice. .

Then there is the African safari travel/picture book that I started and which now begs to be finished.

Then there is a commitment to put together a nature book about Lake Walcott State Park in Idaho, where I spent last summer as a campground host and where I will return again this coming summer.

And finally there is a the memoir that is beginning to demand I write. It would be a story of a high school honor roll student who dropped out of school at 16 to get married and who had four children by the time she was 21, and who went on to become a reporter, city editor and finally associate editor of a 66,000 circulation newspaper. There’s a lot of skeletons, heartache, joys and growing up in between.

I’m giving myself a break until Monday to come up with an answer, after which I’m counting on the discipline of NaNo to help keep me to whatever deadline I set for myself.

I’m leaning toward the travel book as my next project.. What do you think? I really want to know.

 

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“Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.” — Alfred A. Montapert

This is the setting where my friend, Kim, and I, ate our last breakfast in Africa. The setting is Little Governor's Tent Lodge in Kenya. We were up early to take our last game ride through Masai Mara National Park. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Our breakfast table this morning looked out on herons feeding in the swamp that surrounded our tent lodging. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 

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 “Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears”

From Fiddler on the Roof

The magic in a day is easy to find when it begins with a golden sunrise photographed from a hot air balloon flying low over Africa's Serengeti.

The magic in a day is easy to find when it begins with a golden sunrise photographed from a hot air balloon flying low over Africa's Serengeti.

Travels With Maggie

As I’ve aged and become an old broad, as sadly has my spoiled but faithful dog, Maggie, whose natural years left are fewer than my own life expectancy, I’ve come to view each day as magical.

But the magic also exists in a quiet Southern Idaho park, where one would be a fool not to acknowledge the gift of the hours with every sunset. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The writer in me realized early on that what didn’t get written down one day would never be exactly the same as would be written the next. Age in me has taught me that each day is a gift that vanishes with the sunset. What we’ve done, or not done, is over and ended. We can’t call it back.

All we can do is wake with the sunrise and live the next day through. Be they hours filled with joy or sorrow, they’re still a magical gift not to be tossed away lightly.

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