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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Cat No. 4; Cat in a pink room.

Morning Thoughts and Cat. No. 4

About the Cat: It’s my version of one of the cats given as examples in the art book: Drawing: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun. The goal was to quickly draw 30 cats from imagination while lying in bed. I guessed that the goal was to get the reader/artist to stop feeling like they had to be perfect, because the cat illustrations were certainly not drawn realistically.

Learning to accept that I wasn’t perfect, somewhere in my mid-30s, was one of the best moments my life. Remembering this got me thinking about other lessons learned during my 81 years on Planet Earth. I decided to make a list of 10 things, but only got to eight before my brain shut off. They are:

          No. 1: Accept that you’re not perfect and be happy about it.

          No. 2. Don’t take anything personal unless it makes you feel better.

          No. 3. Realize that people are more concerned about how they look than how you look.

          No. 4. Get a dog and walk it daily.

     No. 5. Find your passion in life, and follow it.

     No. 6. Get back on the horse when you fall off.

     No. 7. Learn something new every day.

No; 8: Get enough sleep most nights. I say most nights because us old broads still gotta have fun once in a while.

Perhaps readers can lengthen the list by sharing things life has taught them.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Cat No. 3: The Covid Cat

          I moderate a writer’s chat group called Writer2Writer for Story Circle Network, an international writing support group for women. Each Wednesday, I provide a writer’s prompt.

          This week, wanting to inject a little silliness into the life of writers, who like all of us are living on Covid time, I asked them to have a conversation with an animal who could respond with words instead of just a nodding of the head.

          Below is what my oldest daughter, Deborah, who is a member of W2W, wrote. I laughed all the way through. So, to give a bit of time to dog lovers to go along with my promised 30 artful cats, I decided to share it. I hope reading it brings a smile to your face.

Nightcap with Whiskey and Kahlua

By Deborah Bean

Welcome to the world of a new senior citizen (me) and my two lovable dogs. Whiskey weighs in at 25 pounds and is a Schnauzer/Cocker Spaniel mix — a Schnocker that you have to imagine with a Scottish accent. Ten-pound Kahlua is an energetic, sometimes frenzied Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix – a JackChi. Ironically, re names, I’m a teetotaler.  

Me: (Nighttime, Take 395) Okay, Whiskey, bedtime.

Kahlua: (Scampers downstairs) I’m going, I’m going, I’m going.

Me: Whiskey, come on.

Whiskey: (Opening one eye) Harrrrumph. (Then he closes that eye)

Me: Whiskey, it’s time for bed.

Whiskey: Your bed be much morrrre comfortable. Just leave me be.

Me: Whiskey! Time for bed!

Kahlua: (Scampering back upstairs and starting to bark) Hey it’s bedtime. Time to go pee and then I get a treat! I like treats. Treats are good.

Whiskey: I be in a bed, ye frrrenzied Kahlueless. And it be comforrrtable. And Mistress, if ye please, get idget down tharrre to be quiet.

Me: Whiskey, it’s bedtime. Coooome ooon. (Grabbing his hind legs and pulling slowly, I work his body off the edge of the bed)

Whiskey: (Still not getting up) Hey! What be you doing? And keep yerrr bloody hands offin me prrrivates! (I gently slide him off the bed so his hind feet touch down before I pull him all the way off) And how, the now, did I get down herrre. Ye bloody well tricked me, ye wench.

Kahlua: (Racingdownstairs and back up a second time) C’mon, c’mon, c’mon! Time to go outside – then I get a treat! Treats are good. Don’t you want a treat Whiskey? And we’ve got a comfortable crate with pillows and blankies.

Me: Alright. Downstairs now.

Whiskey: I be strrrrretching. And yawning. And be ye sure ye don’t want me back in that tharrrre comfortable bed. I’d be keeping you warm all night.

Kahlua: (Racing up and down the stairs a third time) Time to go pee. I’m a good puppy. I know what to do.  Go outside, go pee, get my treat, and then off to bed in our crate.

Me: Whiskey, let’s go. It’s bedtime. Come on.

 Whiskey: (Grumbling all the way down to the kitchen door) And it’s a crrruel human ye be. Forcin’ me out of me comforrrtable spot. And now you sends me out into the darrrk to be a’peein.

Kahlua: (After making several circuits of the yard before stopping to go potty) I’m done. See, I went potty. I’m a good puppy. You love me because I know what to do. I’m loved, I’m loved. (Then races up the stairs to see the husband, barking all the way. He sends her back down as Whiskey saunters in from the yard. Kahlua is panting)

Me: Okay, into the crate, both of you.

Whiskey: (Giving me the evil eye, again) And, I be askin’, what will ye be givin’ me? Kahlueless over there may be willin’ but she be titched in the head.

Me: Of course. Here’s your treat. Now into the crate.

Kahlua: I got a treat. Treats are good. Now I’m in the crate. I’m a good puppy!

Whiskey: I’ll not be likin’ this a bit, but since thare be a treat, so shall it be.

Me: (Sighs) Why do I put up with this? It’s a good thing you’re such a snuggle bunny.

Whiskey: Hey! Who ye be besmirchin’ wit’ your bunny talk? It’s a fierce fighter I be — at least five minutes of the day. Hmph!

Me: Night puppies. Love you. See you in the morning.

Whiskey: Hmph! Well, at least there be comforrrtable blankets. Scootch over ye idget. Give me space.

Kahlua: (Snuggles between Whiskey’s legs) I did good! I said goodnight, peed, and went to bed with a treat. I’m a good puppy!

Whiskey: Quiet little beastie. I be tryin’ to sleep here.

          Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Cat No. 2: Green Eyes and Glasses

Some People Might Call It Stubbornness

          Although I love cooking, and am reasonably good at it, I never bake cakes these days. I tried in my younger years but almost always they were dismal failures. They drooped, didn’t rise, had raw centers or a dozen other mishaps.

          That’s because I can’t ever seem to follow rules. While I can successfully add or subtract to my favorite one-pot dishes, leaving out or adding something a cake recipe calls for rarely works.

          I thought about that as I was drawing one of the cats for the first assignment in Drawing: 52 Exercises to Make Drawing fun. I sort of fudged yesterday when I wrote that the first exercise was to draw 30 cats.

          The exact words of the exercise were: “Draw 30 cats from your imagination while sitting or lying in bed.” But that didn’t seem fun to me. I’m not a daytime bed person, rarely even taking naps. So, I simply snipped off the end of the assignment to suit my style.

          The truth is I’m one of those people, whoever they are, who only read instructions when all else fails. And telling me I must do something is like waving a red banner in front of an angry bull.

          My journal writing has helped me understand these and many more of my failings — or strengths if you look at things from an opposite angle. I doubt I’m going to change at my age. But I am going to eventually draw 30 cats.

          More journaling and cats to come …

          Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie (Available free on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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First assignment from Drawing: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun. Draw 30 cats. This is Cat No. 1

          When I was in my early 20s, I wanted to become both a writer and an artist. Writing won out. For over half a century, writing was as important to me as breathing. Actually, it still is.

          As a newspaper journalist for 37 years, I felt what I wrote was important – because I was keeping people informed of what was going on in the world and what they needed to know. Thankfully, that was the priority goal of the newsrooms I worked in from 1967 to 2004.  

I cringe today when I read, or hear, so many journalism personalities (certainly not reporters) editorialize their version of events. I belong to the days of journalists like Walter Cronkite, who ended his news shows with “And that’s the way it is.” I’m not sure when demonizing and hate-mongering to win readers and viewers became so prevalent.

Ok. Enough of that. I didn’t plan on a soapbox rant for this blog. I was going to write about how these days my writing mostly consists of journaling. It’s helping me, at the grand age of 81, to connect the dots of my life. I find it quite enjoyable and rewarding, as well as helping me better understand who I am.

But I’ve also begun to piddle more with art, and finding it also rewarding.  I’m too old, however, to take it seriously, which is why I picked up Drawing:52 Creative Exercise to Make Drawing Fun.

The first exercise is to draw 30 cats. Above is my first one.

More journaling and cats to come…

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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It Is What It Is

I’m going to take more time to smell the flowers in 2021. How about you? — Art by Pat Bean

          “Sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you think you have been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.” – Christine Caine

          The New Year is almost upon us. Most people I know are loudly exclaiming Thank Gawd!  And who wouldn’t be glad to leave Covid and malicious, undemocratic politics in the rear-view mirror. That’s not to say we will be free of both in upcoming months, but at least we’ve gotten down the road a bit.

          While I haven’t been affected as badly by Covid as most because I’m retired, and didn’t lose my job and income, I am in that vulnerable 80 plus age group that dies from the disease more often than others. So, fear and common sense has curtailed loving hugs, daily drop-ins from friends stopping by for a chat and perhaps a cup of coffee or a night cap, and my annual excursions to visit my scattered family or travel for pleasure.  

          I’ve mostly stayed home, ordering everything I need from Walmart or Amazon, which has left my wandering feet a bit claustrophobic – and foaming at the mouth over the daily political shenanigans that come with the morning news. It’s distressing enough to curdle my cream-laced coffee.

          Being a stay-at-home, however, has changed my life a bit. I’m reading more, have organized all my drawers and closet, and have spent at least 30 minutes a day journaling my thoughts, and finally restarted work on my memoir. I’ve also streamed a few more movies on my Kindle (I don’t own a TV) and I ‘ve communicated more via text, email, zoom or letters with family and friends.

          Patricia Summitt, women’s basketball coach who died in 2016, summed up an attitude that I now claim as my own. “It is what it is. But it will be what you make it.”

          And since research has shown that people who look at life with a positive respective live longer than pessimists, I’m going to continue believing that silver linings do exist.

That said, I’m looking forward to the New Year as a glass half full and not half empty.

          In 2019, my word for the new year was Kindness. To that in 2020, I added the word, Respect. I’m taking both of those words as mottos to live by with me into 2021, plus adding the exclamation: Dammit, Just Do It. Whether it be answering the writing muse immediately when it calls, making my bed when I first get up, or calling a friend when I think about her, there’s no reason for me to add it to an already too-long to-do list, I’m just going to do it.

          So, what’s your New Year’s Resolution?

  Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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X Marks the Spot

X Marks the Spot — By Richard Sheppard

          “If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” – Katherine Hepburn

          “Never ever underestimate the importance of having fun.” – Randy Pausch

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

          Half a lifetime ago, an artist friend gave me a large abstract painting after I fell in love with it. I call it “X Marks the Spot,” and today it sits above my dining room table where it frequently catches my eye.

          It means many things to me. First it reminds me of a special friend who is no longer alive. His name was Richard Sheppard , and he was a unique individual who always colored outside the lines. He was there for me during a heartbreak period when I was feeling quite sorry for myself.

Richard took about 15 minutes of me wallowing in pity before he started rolling around on the floor chanting “pitty-Pat, pitty-Pat, pitty-Pat!  I stopped whining and started laughing, and then with his urging, I began to reflect on all the positive things I then had going in my life.

It began a pattern that has followed me ever since. Whenever I get down in the dumps, I ask myself how many women in the world would exchange places with me. And when the answer is millions, I stop feeling sorry for myself and get on with my quite good, if not perfect, life.

And just looking at that painting each day reminds me to be thankful for life itself.

The painting, with its colorful hues of olives, persimmon, ocher and raspberry reds, also reminds me of my two rafting journeys through the Grand Canyon, where I not only observed similar colors but cliff walls scarred with marks similar to the Xes in the painting.

 Since those outdoor adventures are at the top of my list of amazing days, reliving them in my mind gives me a boost more powerful than any energy drink.

Finally, as I look at this painting, I ask myself which X represents me this day. Sometimes it’s one of the larger reds and some days it’s one of the smaller, less brilliant colored Xes. Fanciful, I know. But fun.

 And who in the heck doesn’t need a bit of fun in their lives these days?

Bean Pat: To blogger Julie whose art blog is always fun. https://journalartz.wordpress.com/  

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining   

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100 Things I’m Thankful For

I ‘m thankful for trees, just any old tree. — Watercolor by Pat Bean

          In all my 81 years I’ve never lived through a year like this one. Covid and hateful politics have turned America upside down. I’m ready to get off the Merry-Go-Round and live in a kinder world where people can disagree but still work together to try and make life better for all. The sooner people realize no one can have everything they want, the quicker this can happen.

          Is this even possible?  I’m not hopeful, but I’m still going to think of my glass as half full and not half empty. Thinking about all my many blessings and the little things that fill my days with joy actually makes this easy.

          So here goes: In no particular order, my annual Thanksgiving blog listing 100 things I’m thankful for.

          1: It begins with my large family of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all their spouses and partners that I so dearly love, and who in return make me feel loved. I spent half my life searching for love, sometimes in the wrong places, before realizing it was around me all the time.

          2: My canine companion Scamp, who has now been with me for 17 months. I’ve always owned dogs but never had one as challenging as him. He was supposed to be a small Schnauzer-mix, eight months old and female when I adopted him from a shelter. He turned out to be a 42-pound Siberian Husky-Shih Tzu mix, male and most likely much younger than advertised – and he wasn’t house broken. He’s been a challenge from the first but has kept my life interesting and I would hate to think of life now without him.

          3: Tucson sunrises and sunsets. I see the sunrise from my bedroom window, sometimes before I get out of bed, and I try to make time to watch the usually awesome sunsets from my living room balcony.

          4: My friend Jean’s chocolate chip cookies.

          5: A nightly hot bath that always relaxes this old broad’s body so she can sleep better at night. It was the only thing I missed when I was living on the road in a small RV that had only a tiny, cramped shower.

          6: Books. As long as I can buy a book I want when I want it, I’ll never feel poor, or lonely.

          7: My journals, 50 years of them, some of which I’ve finally begun rereading for the first time. The early ones are missing months and are sketchy, but the ones I write today allow me to have long conversations with myself and many of the authors I read.

          8: The New York Times: As a longtime journalist, it’s been sad watching one newspaper after another fold, including The Dallas Times Herald, which I grew up reading, and The Houston Post, which I was a stringer for during my early journalism years. Just as sad has been watching some media take sides on issues and slanting the news instead of just reporting the facts. I feel the NY Times still exhibits the values I, and the publications I worked for, had during my 37-year journalism career.

          9: A soft bed with clean, sweet smelling sheets to crawl into every night.

          10: My pain doctor, who gives me a steroid shot in my back every four or five months that allows me to keep trekking up and down three flights of stairs at least six times a day. Advil helps, too.

          11:  Social Security.

          12: America, with all its faults, because it still is the land of the free.

          13: Birds, whose fascinating lives fuel a late-blooming passion within me to see them and learn about them, even if it’s just watching their behaviors from my third-floor balconies.

          14: Soft blankets to snuggle beneath when it’s chilly.

          15: My female role models: Anne Richards, Margaret Mead, Molly Ivins, Maya Angelou, Helen Reddy, Ellen Goodman, Susan Wittig Albert, Susan B. Anthony, Pearl Buck, Nelly Bly, Osa Johnson, Barbara Jordan, Amelia Earhart and all the other women I knew or read about who never let gender get in the way of their goals.

          16: Rainbows after storms.

          17: Daisies and gardenias, and all the other species of flowers. 

          18. Comfortable shoes.

          19: Aspen trees in the fall, and live oaks, and sycamores and well, just any old tree.

          20: Road trips with just me and my dog.

          21: Chocolate ice cream, chocolate cake, brownies, chocolate milk shakes. OK, anything chocolate.

22: A stormy day with a good book and a comfortable chair.

23: Surprises.

24: My morning cream-laced coffee.

25: Friends, who enrich my live in many ways.

26: Daily telephone chats with my oldest son, D. C. And the less frequent calls from my other children as well.

27: A Jack and Coke nightcap.

28: That I still have a zest for life, and learning.

29: Story Circle Network, my support group of wonderful women who helped me find my voice, write my book Travels with Maggie, and actually get it published.

30: The Internet, which while sometimes annoying, brings the world to my fingertips, lets my see my great-grandchildren as they grow up, and helps me find answers to my million and one questions.

31: My friend Jean’s dog Dusty, because she’s my dog Scamp’s best friend.

32: Smiles and laughter. Anytime, anyplace.

33: My granddaughter Shanna and her wife Dawn, who moved to Tucson to be near me, and who enrich my life.

34: People who wear masks out of respect for other people’s safety as well as their own.

35. Hand sanitizer. Who would have thought we would ever be thankful for this item?

36: Grocery delivery so I don’t have to go inside stores in this age of Covid, but also because someone else carries the weight up my three flights of stairs.

37: Scamp’s no-pull harness, because he’s a strong mutt,

38: Card and board games with friends.

39: Moisturize,

40: The Catalina Mountains, my outdoor backdrop.

41:  Art and Music that bring joy to my eyes and ears.

42: That I’m a writer because it keeps my observations skills sharp, and gives purpose to my days.

43: Hot tubs.

44: The helicopter ride I recently took over the Grand Canyon to help celebrate my dear friend Kim’s birthday.

45: The sweet-tasting naval oranges that came with my latest grocery order

46: My dog’s new groomer.

47: My Kindle and my computer. Still not that fond of a smart phone.

48: My daughter-in-law Cindi, who took on the job of being my guardian angel.

49: Scented candles.

50: A new tye-dye T-shirt.

51: People who are kind

52: Our National Parks, Refuges and Forests.

53: Washers and Dryers and all the other appliances that make life easier with time left over to read.

54: Electricity for all those appliances and reading lamps.

55: Vaccines that have rid the world of many diseases – with hopefully a new one on the horizon.

56: Audible books.

57: That I paid off my car this year.

58:  Morning walks with Scamp.

59: That I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes.

60: Happy hours with friends.

61: A good haircut,

62: Favorite televisions programs: Survivor, Amazing Race, Sunday Morning, PBS Mysteries and my latest, The Pack.

63:  A hot cup of Lemon-Ginger tea.

64. People who read my blog, or buy my book Travels with Maggie.

65: A snail-mail letter from my good friend Charlie.

66: When I’m able to solve a computer glitch all by myself.

67: A good manicure.

68:  Finally realizing what a strong, good but feisty woman I had for a mother.

69: That my great-grandson Junior liked the Doctor Doolittle books I liked when I was his age.

70: That some of my family likes to hang my paintings on their walls.

71: Air conditioning.

72: Wolf Brand Chili, a quick meal on a day when I don’t feel like cooking.

73: That I had a job I loved all my working days.

74: That I finally gave up all notions that I could be perfect, and that I’ve finally learned to give myself credit for all the things I do and stopped beating up on myself for all the things I didn’t do.

75: My rubber tree plant on my balcony that has survived for at least 25 years.

76: The smell of a desert landscape after a heavy rain.

77: My travel memories of the Galapagos, Africa, Japan and many more big and small adventures.

78: That I can still travel.

79: Making new friends.

80: The Sonoran Desert in which I now live.

81: Wayne Dyer’s book Your Erroneous Zones, which set me on a whole new way of thinking back in the 1970s.

82: That I have a nice, safe place to live.

83: Clean water to drink.

84: That I live an independent life and can still take care of myself.

85: Nice neighbors.

86: Watching the stars through my bedroom windows at night.

87: Tasty soup made from leftovers.

88: Paintings that I love hanging on my walls.

89: Weekend pancake breakfasts with my friend Jean, and our dogs Dusty and Scamp, who always get a pancake, too.

90: A Zoom meeting with my friend Kim in Utah.

91: Colorful stationary.

92: Cajun food.

93:  A freshly cleaned apartment – and car.

94:  Temperatures below 100 degrees, which are rare during Tucson’s summer.

95: My brother Robert, who sees the world different from me, which makes our connection something we have both had to work on, which makes it even sweeter.

96: A good movie that makes me both laugh and cry, ditto for a book.

97: Days when Scamp lets me sleep past 5:30 a.m. before demanding his walk.

98: My recent view of the Colorado River from the old Navajo Bridge, just before it enters the Grand Canyon, and memories of floating beneath this bridge twice.

99. Arriving safe at friends Robert and Karla’s home in St, George, Utah, after a nine-hour drive from Tucson and being welcomed with love, hugs and a Jack and Coke.

100. Having Thanksgiving with friends who treat me like family.

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It’s World Kindness day

Just aa it took many tiles to create this mural, so it will take many acts of kindness to create a better world. — Photo of St. Louis Zoo aviary mural by Pat Bean

“Together we can change the world, just one random act of kindness at a time.” – Ron Hall.

I noted in my journal this morning that it was Friday the 13th, but I didn’t know until I opened my email that November 13 is also World Kindness Day.

          What a great idea, was my first thought. When did this happen was my second? I’ve been aware in recent years that something is being celebrated every day of the year, but this was a new one for me.

          With a little research, I learned that the day had been designated 22 years ago by the World Kindness Movement, a coalition of nations’ kindness NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and is now celebrated in numerous countries, including the United States.

          My third thought was that every day should be World Kindness Day.

          Bean Pat: Check out this CNN post on ways to be kind. https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/13/health/world-kindness-day-acts-wellness/index.html

          Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Too Many to Count

If you saw a Bald Eagle when it was only two years old, you would see a ratty-looing bird with no white head. It takes these birds of prey four years to gain their magnificence. If all goes as expected, it takes many more years for humans to become their best selves, I believe. — Sketch by Pat Bean

What am I now that I was then is a line from Delmore Schwartz’s poem, “Calmly We Now Walk Through This April’s Day.”  The words sent my brain working overtime to answer the question.

I am not the same person I was over half a life ago, so much so I tell friends today they wouldn’t have liked me back then, when I was insecure, took things too personally, tried too hard to please everyone, cried too much, was searching for love while ignoring the love I had all around me, and thought of myself as two Pat Beans, one dull and following all the rules while the second one was learning to color outside the lines.

When I did the latter, I would say to myself, often aloud, Pat Bean doesn’t do that. It took a 16-day rafting trip, when I was in my 50s, on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon where nothing that was important in the outside world mattered, for the two Pat Beans to merge.

The one Pat Bean that stepped off the raft at the end of the adventure was both a stronger and a weaker person. She, at least I like to think, was a more likeable person because she was comfortable with her faults, didn’t have to prove she was perfect, and finally bold enough to accept and use her strengths.

But even that Pat Bean is not the same today, or even the day after. It seems each action, each book read, each new thought, each new experience, whether good or bad, changes me. I think that’s how life is supposed to be.

What do you think?

Bean Pat: You can read or listen to Delmore Schwartz’s poem here. https://www.poetryoutloud.org/poem/calmly-we-walk-through-this-aprils-day/

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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An American Bittern — Art by Pat Bean

          I woke up this morning,

          Smiled at the rising sun,

          Three little birds,

          Sat on my doorstep,

          Singing sweet songs. – Bob Marley

          One early autumn morning in Maine some years back, I set out for a short walk in Scarborough Marsh, a boggy landscape created thousands of years ago when icebergs advanced and retreated across the land, leaving behind a depression into which the ocean crept.

The marsh was filled with egrets, gulls, doves, chickadees, sparrows, robins, kingfishers, and jays that kept luring me on until my short walk turned into a four-hour hike, making me late getting on the road for the day’s actual destination.

Scarborough Marsh, Mine. — Photo by Pat Bean

A wooden boardwalk took me through the middle of a saltwater marsh, past islands of grass surrounded by patches of water, and a few birch trees, whose gold and red leaves shimmered in the sunlight. In the distance, a belted kingfisher sat on a lone stump in a golden field of waving grasses.

But my best bird sighting of the morning was an American bittern. The tall bird’s streaky brown feathers and reach-to-the sky stance camouflaged it quite neatly among the reeds. It was only when I caught its movement to snatch a tidbit from the waterlogged ground that I saw it.

Bitterns belong to the heron family, and North America has two, the American Bittern and the Least Bittern. Because they are a secretive species with excellent camouflage features, I’m always delighted to find one. Over my lifetime I’ve probably only seen maybe a dozen American and just one Least.

Yellow Bittern — Wikimedia photo

I did, however, see a Yellow Bittern when I visited Guam. That sighting was a special treat because it was New Year’s Day and I wanted my first bird of the year to be something other than a house sparrow, my first bird of the year back then for five years running.

Because birds were scarce on Guam, having been decimated by the arrival of non-native brown tree snakes, it was nearly noon before I saw my first bird that year, a small Yellow Bittern that flew directly in front of me.

Thinking about birds this morning is a distraction from thinking about all the chaos currently going on the world – or of yesterday’s dentist appointment to be followed an upcoming one to extract a tooth and get a partial fitted.

Such is life. Good memories are the silver lining of aging. I’m glad my cup runneth-over with them.

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

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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