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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Goose and Chicks — Drawing by Pat Bean

Sometimes it seems the whole world is going to hell in a handcart, but the pansies keep on blooming – year in year out.” — Jack Scott.

Thankfully, that’s true, I thought, as I pondered the words of the former Canadian rock and roll singer. I came across Scott’s words as I was rereading one of my journals, this one filled between the summer of 2018 and the spring of 2019.

Every few pages seemed to contain a quote that had impressed me or gave me pause for thought. As a writer, I greatly appreciate when another writer expresses a thought in just the perfect words.

I’m usually just as impressed when rereading them, although occasionally I do come across a quote that leaves me pondering what I had been thinking back then, because the words seem to have no meaning to me on this day.

The mind is a strange thing.

Anyway, while skimming through my filled journal, along with Scott’s words, I came across the following ones that meant as much to me today as when I first wrote them down. They sounded like words of wisdom and they shouted at me to share them.

“Rest and you rust.” –Helen Hayes

“If you really do not want to do it, just say No!’ –Annette Aben

If all things are in a state of constant change, then human behavior can change too – and for the better.” –Aldo Leopold.

“Never ask whether you can do something. Say instead that you are going to do it, then fasten your seat belt.” – Julia Cameron

“The clearest way into the universe is though a forest wilderness.” – John Muir.

And finally, “Honor your life by laughing more.” – Pat Bean. It is, after all, my journal.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning 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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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A Good News Day

Daily Sketch, by Pat Bean: Another way I keep my mind off the bad news that dominates the media these days.

I often start my day by reading the news. I’ve made it my goal to find something good in what I read, just a little something to offset all the bad news going on these days.

I’m stubborn, so I usually do eventually find something to cheer me up, to confirm the belief of one of my journalism mentors, Charles Kuralt, that there’s enough goodness and kindness out there to make up for all the bad-news headlines.

I’ve been in this habit since way back in the late 1960s, when I was a green-behind-the-ears reporter working at a small local Texas Gulf Coast newspaper.

It started when a woman called into the paper to report that some young teenagers had aided her in changing a tire when she had a blowout on a back road.

“You just never print anything good about teenagers,” she said.

As it happened, this was a week in which our paper had been running a daily, front-page story, featuring outstanding high school students in our community. I asked the woman if she had seen the articles. She hadn’t, then shamefully admitted that she read the paper every day but somehow had missed them.

It seems people are drawn more to reading bad news than good news, I concluded, and made a promise to myself to not ever be that woman. It influenced how I read a newspaper, and how I reported the news. Most news, at least back then, was just basic information, neither good nor bad. And while the bad news, even back then, had bolder headlines, the newspaper also included good news stories, a new business opened, a dog saved its owner in some way, scholarships were awarded.

Good news back then also included many first-woman achievements, which I wrote about frequently in the 1970s and 1980s. It was yet one more of these that caught my attention today in the 2020s.

 For the first time, soccer players representing the United States men’s and women’s national teams will receive the same pay and prize money, including at World Cups, under landmark agreements with the U.S. Soccer Federation that will end years of litigation and bitter public disputes over what constitutes “equal pay.”

The U.S. women’s soccer team, it should be noted, won a World Cup championship and an Olympic bronze medal during its six-year fight for equal pay.

As a woman who fought for equal pay for most of her career, I think this achievement is definitely good news. While it doesn’t outweigh the other news I read this day, it does let me continue believing in silver linings.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning 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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Saw -Whet owl — Art piddling by Pat Bean

Poet Mary Oliver writes that we should make the best of our “one and precious life.” I agree. The quandary is how to do that when you’re 83, and not by a long shot as agile as you once were, and you’re retired from what you once thought of as a meaningful job.

I’ve created myself a happy life, filled mostly with reading, writing, piddling with art, watching birds, spending time with friends, and having the time to connect the life I’ve lived with what’s going on in the world today.

Mostly, it’s satisfying. But there’s still something missing. I want to somehow have an influence on making the world a better place.

When I was a working newspaper reporter, I felt useful in that I kept readers informed of their community and felt blessed that I got to write about people who were doing positive things in the world — even if I also had to write about people who were doing the opposite, too.

I also felt extremely lucky that I loved my job, and that it gave me a sense that I counted for something in this world.

That feeling is gone. I’ve become a spuddler, one who satisfies herself with trivial things.

I recently expressed these things to a friend, who told me to stop thinking so much and simply enjoy the life I had earned. I love my friends.

And then I came across these words by author and poet Donna Ashworth; Ageing isn’t about lost youth, it’s about finding the difference between shiny and worthy … and the time to dedicate to the things that bring you joy. It’s the wisdom to say no to the things that don’t… The courage to be happy in your own skin. It’s about finding out who you were meant to be, all along.

I love being an old broad – most of the time.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning 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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Books and Birds make me happy. — Art by Pat Bean

I’m currently reading Bury the Dead by Louise Penny, whose protagonist features Armand Gamache, a homicide inspector in Quebec. He’s an older man who’s risen through the ranks to a leadership position, and a thoughtful man whose mind is always pondering about the people he meets and what makes them tick.

I wouldn’t call Louise’s books a cozy. They’re darker than that, but the darkness comes more from looking into the corridors of the black places in the mind of possible suspects than blood and gore.

Reading Penny’s words this morning was like taking a graduate course in psychology. It was wonderful.

I came away with bits of wisdom and much to ponder about how the author’s words translate to my own life. One of the many thoughts of wisdom scattered throughout the book, was the idea that things are clearer from a distance. Quite true. I know that from experience. But then I also know, as did Gamache, that from a distance, details are missing. So, which is view is more important, he and I pondered.

I decided the best option is to be able to view an event from both distances, a tip I should keep in mind when pondering life events. Even an old broad can learn something new.

A few pages later, another character told Gamache: “Sometimes life goes in a direction not of our choosing. That’s why we need to adapt.”

Recalling all the directional detours in my own life, I silently said Amen to that – which was quite appropriate as the character speaking was a pastor. But not just a pastor, one who would rather canoe a half-frozen river than sit one-on-one with a dying parishioner. He did both. Because he felt weak for not wanting to do the second task, he was doing the adventure to prove to himself that he was strong.

Penny brings her characters to life on the pages, even the minor ones feel like they are worth knowing.

As I put down the book to go wash my breakfast dishes, I thought about how fortunate I was to have books like Penny’s to read. And then another thought hit me. Bury the Dead was only the sixth in the Gamache series and the author has written 17.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning 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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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The Meadowlark and the Chukar: I wrote a bird column for three years back in the early 2000s, and a chukar I saw on Antelope Island in Utah’s Great Salt Lake was the first bird I wrote about. — Art by Pat Bean

 My mornings start with my to-do list, which is a carry over from the day before, and the day before that, and the days before those. Eventually a dreaded chore finally gets done because I’m tired of looking at it.

The daily list actually is two lists in one. The tasks I need to do, or simply want to do (like watch a bird cam located in Panama), and the list of the books I’m reading, or want to read.

As an old broad, my body appreciates many breaks during the day, and the reading list gives me something to fall back on besides computer games – which according to my self-imposed rule must not be played before 4 p.m. This rule, because I love playing games is often broken. So as a reminder I have a note taped to my refrigerator that says “You could be reading.”

 Besides the daily list, I keep lists of books I’ve read, places I’ve been, the proverbial bucket list, menu lists and an idea list, from which I always can find a topic to write about.

But one of my favorite lists is the one I begin on April 1, 1999 – the day I joined the world of avid (translate crazy) bird watchers.

 I keep a list of every bird I’ve seen, noting the place and the date. But thankfully, I’m not like the birder who once passed me on a favorite birding trail. I was dawdling along, watching red-winged blackbirds flash their scarlet marked wings while listening to a couple of breeding male meadowlarks trying to out sing each other.

Barely slowing his pace, a middle-aged hiker came upon me and asked if I had seen a chukar. I replied that I often saw this partridge-like bird in the rocks near a bend up ahead. About 10 minutes later, the man ran past me going the other way. 

  “Got it … that’s 713 birds for me now.” His voice was like the rumble of a passing freight train.

How sad, I thought, that he didn’t take a minute to admire the flashy scarlet markings on the blackbirds or to enjoy the melodic voices of the two meadowlarks.

 Numbers and names on a list are only that. It’s being present in the moment – seeing the golden yellow on a meadowlark’s throat as it tilts its head toward the sky in song, or the magic of a sunrise slowly coloring the sides of a canyon – that make my heart beat faster. And I’m thankful I enjoy such wonders whether I’m seeing them for the first or the hundredth time.

 Seeing birds is always delightful – but then so is getting my oven cleaned after seeing the chore on my to-do list for three weeks running.

  I’m glad I’m a list-maker.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning 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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining. 

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Sketching and watching birds, like this Gila Woodpecker, is one way I get my mind off the chaos of daily news headlines.

Agreement is Rare

Political speaking, when it comes to certain things, especially politics, my family pretty much has America covered – and for peace’s sake we usually keep our views to ourselves.

 With a great margin for error, this is how I see things among my five children.

I have one child to the left of me, one child to the right of me, one child that knows without a doubt that their side, whatever it is, is always the right side, one child who gets quite passionate about their particular side, and one child who appears not to follow the political arena at all.

That last may be the lucky one. I tried not reading a newspaper for the first four months after I retired from being a newspaper journalist. It was a relaxing, but not a satisfying time, in my life. I came to the conclusion that sticking my head in the sand and ignoring what’s going on in the world is not for me.

These days, reading the NY Times, and then the varied and even conflicting news on my computer’s home page while I drink cream-laced coffee in the morning, gives me plenty to think about — and fume about — for the rest of the day.

 My children grew up in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s’, and we often talked about world events. We seldom agreed back then on anything either.

I actually take pride in that. It means I raised independent children who mostly took an interest in the world they lived in and learned to think for themselves.

 With my own family as a role model, I know it’s possible to get along without chaos, ugliness or war — even if there’s no way in hell, we’re ever likely to agree with one another.

I suspect it works because we all care about and love each other – and have the sense, at least most of the time, to keep our political opinions to ourselves. 

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning 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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited) and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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As butterflies track flowers, so do sellers track me. Art by Pat Bean

One of the crazy myths going around about the Covid vaccine is that the shots contain a microchip that will let your movements be tracked by the government. Just the thought of this idea makes me laugh.

I recently ordered tuna fish from Walmart. The next time I went online, my home page featured three ads for tuna fish. When my car turned five years old, suddenly I was inundated with phones calls wanting to sell me an extended warranty.

By the way, if anyone has discovered a way to stop these particular calls, please let me in on the secret. I’ve now been getting them for several years. I scream take my name off your list and never call me again – and it hasn’t worked.

One of my friends engages the caller with time-wasting tall tales of her Porsche, her Lexus, her Jaguar, and her BMW. The caller finally catches on and hangs up. But I don’t have five minutes of that kind of patience.

When I was traveling around the country in an RV for nine years, I used one of my son’s homes as my permanent address. Soon he and his wife were getting phone calls asking for me even though I had never given out their phone number. It’s been eight years since I retired from the RV life and have my own permanent address, but they are still getting an occasional call.

Fortunately, there is usually a dead giveaway because the callers ask for Patricia – and I’ve never done business of any kind using that name.

I buy a pair of pajamas online, and I’m bombarded with pajama ads. I buy a book and suddenly ads for books in that genre pop up all over my computer.

People know I’m an old broad, and so I get all sorts of ads for weird medical miracles, not to mention hearing aids and funeral plans. I actually got an ad in the mail about cremation plans yesterday, which irritated me no end.

Perhaps you can now see why I laugh at someone wanting to implant a microchip in me. Not only is the cost of doing so unimaginable, it’s simply not needed. I’m already being tracked. And for those who want to know, I’m also vaxed and boosted.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning 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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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It’s always storming somewhere, but there is nothing better than a rainy day for curling up and reading a good book.

When do you stop reading a book you’re not enjoying? That is the question I’m currently asking myself. Normally, I give a book 25 to 50 pages before deciding it’s not right for me.

Currently, however, I’m about 90 percent finished with a mystery book whose ending I don’t particularly care about. It’s a book I’ve been slowly reading for a while, and I hate to stop reading it so near the end.

But I haven’t fallen in love with, or come to hate, any of the characters. The truth is the characters all bore me, and Ihave no passion for the plot.

In my world, the best books are ones that you learn something from, either about the world or about yourself. Even better are the books that do this and also make you both laugh and cry.

On average, I usually have about five books I’m currently reading, each from a different genre such as travel, mystery, nature, fantasy, memoir and essays. I read just about everything except horror (I like to sleep peacefully at night) and true crime (I get enough of that in the daily news).

Sometimes I stay up until the wee hours of the morning finishing a book I started just that day – such as What Comes Next and How to Like It by Abigail Thomas. And sometimes I take a month to finish a book because the writing deserves deep thoughts – such as Hell and other Destinations by Madelaine Albright.

 And believe it or not, reading multiple books at the same time, actually helps me better remember what I’ve read, probably because each time I return to a book I need to remember where I left off.

On average, this method lets me finish reading two books a week. Sadly, that only adds up to about 100 books a year. And I have just about that many books on my future reading list.

So, why am I asking if I should finish reading a book I’m not enjoying – even if it’s almost finished – when there’s so many others to choose from? I think I just answered my question.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning 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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Lemon Cake and Hot Wings

This is a copy of a painting I did many years ago. It hangs in the home of my daughter-in-law Cindi, who has long been my loving guardian angel. I am indeed blessed.

A Recipe of Love  

I was hungry the other night, and while my pantry was pretty-well stocked, there was nothing on hand that didn’t need to be cooked. That’s kind of something I do purposely as this, more than anything else, keeps me just reasonably overweight.

Now I love cooking, and do so for myself almost every day, but this wasn’t a day I wanted to spend time in the kitchen. It was cold outside, and I was warm and snuggly in a chair with an Inspector Gamache mystery. Well, I guess I could have had a peanut butter sandwich, but that didn’t appeal to me. I wanted something tastier, with good seasonings and texture.

As if by magic, my granddaughter Shanna popped in my front door. After being enthusiastically welcomed by my canine companion Scamp, she informed me that she had hot wings from Firetruck, a local pub.

  “I just thought you might like a treat,” she said.

I think I literally drooled, then I ate one wing heavily drenched in the pub’s homemade ranch dressing while Shanna gave Scamp a walk – another treat for me. Afterwards, we worked together for a little bit on the 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle in progress on my dining room table before she left.

I had two more wings, and then settled back down in my chair to read some more. And then, even before I could think that something sweet might be a perfect ending to the wings, my friend Jean appeared with a huge piece of lemon cake that had been baked in the high school culinary class she teaches.

“It’s the best lemon cake recipe I’ve ever come across,” she said, as I cut off a small piece and ate it. My taste buds immediately agreed with her. And she had brought a big enough piece that I knew I would enjoy it again with my morning coffee.

Later that night, I thought about how much love was shown to me this evening. I mean, nothing spells love better than hot wings and lemon cake. Wouldn’t you agree?

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning 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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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If my art had to be perfect, I would never draw. As Leonard Cohen said “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

I’m Not Perfect, But I’m Enough

“Doesn’t it feel fabulous to be an entirely reborn person with flawless habits, unbroken willpower and a rose-tinted view of the future? Oh, that doesn’t describe you? Me neither.”

The above comment, which I recently came across in an opinion piece about books to read in the new year, had me belly-laughing. I rarely get through a week before any New Year’s resolutions I was foolish enough to make are broken.

Once upon a time, but not in a galaxy far away, this foolish writer strived to be the perfect wife and the perfect mother. The milestone marker in my life, which didn’t happen until I was in my mid-30s, was the day that I realized I didn’t have to be perfect. And not only did I not have to be perfect, I no longer wanted to be perfect.

When someone assailed me about something I had done wrong, I began simply replying “You’re right,” which always took the sails out of whoever was harassing me. I even reveled in the childish delight of their dismay.

But while I’m not perfect, I’m enough. I’m not mean, and I have never intentionally tried to harm anyone. I take pride in knowing that, and that I’ve finally joined the rest of the human race in not being perfect.

Now, as for books to read, if you’re a mystery fan, but would like a little something beyond cozy, you might want to check out Louise Penney’s Inspector Gamache series. I recently discovered the books, which delve deeply into just how imperfect we humans are. I’m currently reading The Brutal Telling, which is Book 5 of 17.

I love it when I find a new author who has a long series. Now, that’s what I call a perfect moment.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning 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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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