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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

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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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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