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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

On Being Still

These days I go to bed with the chickens but wake with them at o-dark-hundred as well. I used to make fun of my mother for doing the same thing. Thinking back, I realize she could never sit still either. I’m proud I share her DNA. — Art by Pat Bean

Trying to Age Gracefully

As those who read my blog regularly know, I’m a big fan of Louise Penny’s Inspector Garmache. Well, I’m currently reading the 11th book in the series, The Nature of the Beast. In it, Gamache has retired to the peaceful village of Three Pines, where he is sitting on a bench mulling over a murder case in which he has been consulted, and an opportunity offered him to return to work.

As I read, I came across this sentence, which so totally describes my present situation that I wrote it down in my journal. “Garmache knew that sitting still was far more difficult, and frightening, then running around.”

After a lifetime of running around – raising five kids, working for a newspaper and chasing stories on deadline, and leading an active outdoor life of hiking, rafting, tennis, skiing and exploring the wonders of nature, here I am mostly stuck at home. I’m just now able to slowly walk my dog using a rollator – and very thankful I can do so, because for a while I couldn’t even do that.

Being still is harder on me, emotionally, than all the running around I used to do. But I’m doing my best to adjust. It’s part of my plan to age gracefully and to be thankful for all the things I can still do – and things I love to do but never had enough time to do when I was younger and in better shape than I am at 83,

I read, write, journal, draw and paint, do jigsaw and crossword puzzles, write snail-mail letters to friends, moderate a writing chat group, spend a little time on Facebook to keep up with friends and family, peruse and weep over the news, cook and do my own housework a small bit at a time, usually between chapters in books, watch birds at my feeders and in my yard, play Candy Crush, Scrabble or Spider Solitaire games, snuggle with my canine companion Scamp, visit with friends who drop by, watch sunsets with a cocktail, and occasionally stream  a TV program.

Writing all this down makes me think I’ve found my own way to continue running around. And thankful I am for finding it. Being still, I think, is not yet a part of my DNA.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is an avid reader, the author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), is always searching for life’s silver lining, and these days learning to age gracefully.

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Looking for Silver Linings

A goose doesn’t lay golden eggs, but it does lay eggs. — Art by Pat Bean

Aging Gracefully

Silver linings happen all the time. I know because I’m always chasing them. For example, my spoiled and rascally, but greatly loved canine companion Scamp recently gave me an unexpected one.

For the past three plus years, ever since I drove 1,000 miles roundtrip to rescue him from a shelter, I’ve had to walk him up and down three flights of stairs four times a day so he could do his business. I called it my fool proof exercise plan.

I loved my third-floor apartment, with its great views that this past year even included great horned owls visiting a Ponderosa pine in close proximity to my front balcony. I never wanted to move.

But after waking up on July 14 with atomic leg pain, which I am still trying to conquer, my granddaughter, her wife and friends, had to walk him, until I moved on Aug. 20 to a ground-level apartment with a small-enclosed area where Scamp was expected to do his business.

But Scamp, whom I had successfully house trained the first three weeks I had him, decided the fenced area, partially cement and partially dirt, was off-limits for doing his business. He stuck to his guns even after my granddaughter walked him around and around in the area on his leash, and even after his own poo was brought into the yard, he simply refused to pee or poo in the area.

Scamp held it until he was at least just outside the gate, and once that was for nearly two days. That stubbornness made him sick and I gave in.

Will that ever change. Probably not friends and family said, pointing out that was because he was as stubborn as his owner. OK. I admit it. I’m not easy and do want my way. But, like Scamp I would like to think I’m lovable.

So, what, you might ask, is the silver lining in this situation. Thankfully, I’m now enough back to normal that I can comfortably walk with a rollator, and Scamp and I have adjusted to walking together using it. So, the silver lining is that I will be walking more. And walking is good for me.

Also, since Scamp is a very social dog who wants to say hi to everyone he sees, I’m rapidly meeting many of my new neighbors. And that’s good because I’m a social person, too. I might also add that friends and family members, when visiting, help with the walking task, and they, too, are silver linings.

As, I said, silver linings aren’t hard to find. Sometimes it’s simply all about attitude.  

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is an avid reader, piddling painter, the author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), is always searching for life’s silver lining, and these days learning to age gracefully.

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The Journey

Anhinga — Art by Pat Bean

I recently came across the phrase, “…that good book you read for the journey and not the ending,” which sent my mind scurrying in two directions

The first thought related to my memories of the many books I have read in which I couldn’t wait to get to the end to find out how everything turned out, and that includes most of the mystery books I have read over my lifetime. And then there were the books that I never wanted to end. Usually those were ones that made me think and opened new doors in my brain.

The second place my mind scurried to was about bird watching, which I didn’t become addicted to until I was 60. Before one fateful 1999 April day, I was seldom aware of the bird life around me, even though all my life I’ve been an avid nature lover. After that day I couldn’t not see birds everywhere and wondered how I had missed them.

And since that April day, I have also faithfully kept a bird list of all the birds I have seen. It’s a common habit among bird watchers.

The thoughts that crystalized while I was reading Neil Hayward’s book, Lost Among the Birders, included the two kinds of birders I’ve come across while bird watching. The vast majority were birders who enjoyed the journey, but I’ve also met a few birders who were more interested in adding a new bird to their list then again watching common birds like house sparrows and their antics.

While I sort of pity the latter, I realize it’s a personal choice and just as valuable to them, as my choice is to me. Perhaps they pity me,

Because time has become so precious to me in my 8th decade on planet earth, I’m carefully weighing my choices these days. The years have shown me that almost all choices – except those that do harm to someone – are right ones. We just have to find what works best for ourselves, and hopefully come to respect the different choices others make.

I’ve also learned that if you make a bad choice, you can always reverse your direction. That little bit of wisdom comes from all the wrong choices I have made in life.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is an avid reader, the author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), is always searching for life’s silver lining, and these days learning to age gracefully.

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Difficult Times

It’s not wise do deny dragons exist when you live near one. — Art by Pat Bean

It’s been exactly a month and two days since I spent most of a day in a hospital emergency room because of atomic leg pain. It seems like a zillion years, because the pain is still coming and going daily.

I’m back to the doctor this Thursday to ask for painkillers, for the first time in my life, and thinking he better give me something strong. I don’t think all these new rules because of people abusing pain-killing drugs should apply to an 83-year-old in pain.

Meanwhile, I’m struggling to end each day by having done at least one thing to give me a sense of accomplishment, a trait that this old broad Type A personality still requires in her life.

When I was younger, the daily goals might be climbing a mountain, writing a story that topped the front page of the newspaper I worked for, or building a small picket fence to finish enclosing the backyard of my new home.

Today’s goals are much simpler. I get pleasure out of writing a long snail letter to a friend, painting a watercolor, cooking a tasty dinner for my granddaughter and her wife, getting together with friends, daily moderating my online writer’s chat group, journaling and reading, posting a new blog, or simply sitting still and watching the sunset as I try and connect the dots in my life.

 All these things, many of which I didn’t have time for when younger, do make my life still very enjoyable and rich. So even though I’m sniveling now, don’t feel sorry for me.  

But since my leg pain began, it’s been a struggle to end my days with that needed sense of accomplishment.

One of the changes forced on me because of my damn leg pain has been a move to a ground-floor apartment because I can no longer continue to walk my canine companion Scamp up and down three flights of stairs four times a day. This has been my fool-proof exercise plan for the past 10 years, and I’ve stubbornly refused to give it up. Now I have no choice.  

Thankfully, I found a nearby place, with trees and an enclosed area for Scamp. This move, which will take place this coming weekend, has prompted me to set a goal of packing up at least two boxes of my belongings every day. Accomplishing this gives me a sense of rightness at the end of the day, even if I haven’t done anything else except play computer games, which keep me from thinking about my leg.

While life isn’t perfect, I’m still committed to ending each day feeling like I’ve accomplished something – and always with gratitude for my family and friends who have been here for me during this difficult time.

I wish every old broad is this world could be as blessed.

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 tree and birds. I like that. — Art by Pat Bean

Nothing like a day spent at a hospital emergency room after being woke up at 3 a.m. with crippling leg pain to set you on a path of new beginnings. I swear it was worse than childbirth, and I have five children.

Thankfully, it wasn’t a blood clot, or something else life-threatening. After tests, it turned out to be related to the back pain I’ve been fighting for a few years – just on an atomic bomb level.

It clearly called, however, for a major change in my life, one family members have been pestering me to take for a few years now, a move to a ground-floor apartment. I know I’ve been a stubborn bitch for not heeding their advice, but I loved my apartment, and I wasn’t interested in a change, even if it meant continuing to walk my dog up and down three flights of stairs four or five times a day, not to mention laundry and errand trips.

I’ve been calling it my fool-proof exercise plan. But dang-it, the plan was no longer working.

So, while recovering this week at home, with family and friends taking on my dog-walking duties, I came across a quote by Stephanie Raffelock, which I found in her book, “A Delightful Little Book on Aging.

We should all take a little more time to cry and wail, allowing tears to baptize us into fresh starts,” she wrote.

Well, I certainly did that Friday. I wailed and sniveled practically all day about my horrid, bad, no-good dilemma. Then on the weekend, I begin online searches for a new apartment. It wasn’t looking good, until my granddaughter Shanna and her wife Dawn, remembered a small nearby apartment complex that they had looked at for themselves a few months ago.

Its office was closed until Monday, but with them carefully ushering me down the stairs, we drove by to take a look at the apartment that was for listed to rent on their web site. It was just about 10 minutes away, a location near the top of my priority list because I wanted to stay in Tucson’s Catalina Foothills, which I’ve come to love since moving to Arizona in 2013.

While I still haven’t looked at the inside, I immediately fell in love with the soon-to-be-vacated outside’s large, fenced-in patio that had doors leading to it from both the bedroom and living areas. It would be perfect for simply letting my canine companion Scamp in and out, an amenity that topped my list of must haves, given that I’m 83 and my back pain is likely to recur.

The clincher for me was the huge tree growing in the middle of the patio. You should know that I once bought a house almost solely because I fell in love with its huge backyard tree.

The new neighborhood is older but nice, and the small apartment complex grounds abounded with flowers and greenery. And within minutes I was looking at birds, including nesting doves above the office door. I can already envision a small fountain and bird feeders beneath that patio tree.

All of the above gave me the confidence that I can meld the inside to fit my needs. Age has let me know that no one can ever simply have everything they want, but it looks like I will have all I need for a happy life.

I cinched the deal Monday and will be moving in around the middle of August. I’m so excited about this new beginning that I’m not even thinking about all the tasks involved in a move. Not yet anyway.

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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Smart phones and bugs are not on my favorable list. — Art by Pat Bean

Sometimes I fling myself into the future and hug technology close to my bosom, afraid I’ll be left behind or miss something if I don’t take that step forward. And sometimes I stubbornly balk and cling to old ways.

As a writer, I fell in love with computers quickly. It just took me realizing how much easier they were to use when I needed to correct mistakes or rethink a sentence. Instead of having to start over, or use a product called Wite-Out tape or liquid to conceal the errors, all I had to do was push a button labeled delete.

While I was far from expert at dealing with computer quirks – and there were and are many – my best friend is a techie. And there are backup geeks when my own logic fails me. In my own way, I understand computers. We get along.

Yet, when it comes to smart phones, I seem to have a phobia. I didn’t even come into the cell phone age until my work demanded I get one – and they paid for it. From the very first, those danged things have felt like a ball and chain.

It was with great reluctance that I finally joined the age of smart phones – and the danged thing has plagued me ever since. If it is not one thing going wrong with it, it’s another. A phantom is always turning the sound to mute, I hit the dismiss button when I mean to answer a call, or things go wrong that I don’t understand.

But my recent three-week road trip to Texas did finally give this stubborn, balky old broad a sudden appreciation for it.

Lost in Austin, after my outdated Garmin GPS gave up the ghost, I was forced to use my phone – for the very first time — for directions. I hate to admit it, but the danged “smartie” saved my bacon. I got to my Story Circle Network board meeting on time. And it later guided me through San Antonio, which I believe must have the worst traffic in the world, and then though Houston and Dallas.

 Now if I can just figure out how to make it give me notifications for when I receive a text message, I’ll apologize for all the times I’ve cussed it out. Maybe…

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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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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