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The beauty of mother nature in all her forms can sometimes bring tears to my eyes. —  American bitter art by Pat Bean

          A strong person is not the one who doesn’t cry. A strong person is the one who cries and sheds tears for a moment, then gets up and fights again.”

An Aha Moment

          It was the late 1960s, and I was juggling a dysfunctional marriage, five children ranging in age from four to 13, and working as a green-behind-the-ears, naïve reporter. I cried a lot at home, always being the one blamed when things weren’t to someone’s liking. I simply cried and apologized.

I cried a lot at work, too, although I hid these tears in the paper’s darkroom, where I had begun my 37-year journalism career processing camera film. City editor Roberta Dansby — whom I eventually came to credit with teaching me almost everything I needed to know about being an ethical journalist — yelled at me daily for two years for anything she considered I had done wrong.

Not wanting to be yelled at, I seldom committed the same error twice and learned a lot. But I clearly remember the day Roberta yelled at me for something I knew for sure wasn’t my fault. Without blinking an eye, I shocked myself by standing up and yelling right back at her across the newsroom.

That was the last time Roberta yelled at me, although I was under her tutelage for another two years.

It took me longer and a lot more tears before I finally stood up for myself at home, but eventually, I did. And life became much sweeter, even my tears. I continue to shed them, but most, these days, are tears of joy: A new great-grandchild, a magnificent sunset, the flash of sun on a red-tailed hawk’s feathers and a glimmer of hope that someday the world will be kinder.

*This post was prompted by my writing circle prompt to write about an aha moment.

Bean Pat: A rambling blog about Christmas cookies https://kjottinger.com/2019/12/28/wherein-pooh-is-quoted/ that made me laugh. I love laughing.

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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“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind: To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” – Calvin Coolidge

A cardinal, the Christmas bird, on a tree near my apartment balcony.

Morning Thoughts

I put up a tiny Christmas tree in my apartment a few days ago. Its true beauty only shines forth in the dark when its glowing lights twinkle and dazzle. As I looked at it this morning, I suddenly found myself thinking of one of the first songs I learned.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine … Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

I think I learned the repetitive tune at Vacation Bible School, back when I thought the world was a kinder place than it turned out to be. As my canine companion Scamp and I took our before sunrise walk, I continued thinking about what Christmas means to me today as an adult, whose only spiritual leaning is to believe that a higher power lives within each of us,

While many find that higher power, many never do, and I believe it is those who wreck havoc on the world. But for a day or two at Christmas, kindness seems to overflow even the hardest of hearts.

My favorite Christmas song is I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. And as corny as it is, I can’t hear it without wet eyes by the time it ends with the words: The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth goodwill toward men.

          Peace, what a beautiful word.

Bean Pat: To all the beautiful Christmas songs that promote peace on earth.

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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Western Kingbird: Along with reading books on writing, I also love to read books on birding. Kenn Kaufman’s Kingbird Highway is one of my favorites.

“Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that’s no reason not to give it.” – Agatha Christie

Morning Chat

          I’m a big fan of books about writing and the writing life, beginning with E.B. White’s 100-year-old classic The Elements of Style.

Among my favorites are Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life; On Writing by Stephen King; Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg: and The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr.

These writers have offered me some very good advice, but also lots of other advice that doesn’t work for me. I thought about this as I finished reading Dani Shapiro’s book, Still Writing. It was full of good writing tips, but as one who has been writing for the past 55 years, I know only about half of her advice would work for me.

For one thing, she’s a lock yourself in the room and stay there and write kind of person. I’m more like Barbara Kingsolver, who calls herself a writer who does other things. Staying active and busy, but with some time for thinking and writing, works best for me.

Even so, the best writing advice of all times is simply: Butt in chair. Well, unless you write standing up.

What’s your favorite book on writing? Inquiring minds want to know.

Bean Pat: A blog about a western kingbird http://www.10000birds.com/a-western-kingbird-at-jones-beach. If you’re a birder, check out Kenn Kaufman’s Kingbird Highway. I once birded with Kenn (at the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival) and the first bird of the day was a western kingbird.

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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Cooper’s Hawk. Once I became addicted to birdwatching, I couldn’t not see birds. And occasionally I got lucky and got a good photograph. — Photo by Pat Bean 

“Does the road wind uphill all the way?  Yes. To the very end. Will the journey take the whole day?  From morn to night, my friend.” — Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Dredging up the Past

I’ve begun work on my memoir, which friends have been urging me to do for years. Like most people’s lives, mine has good parts and bad parts. My book, Travels with Maggie, is 100 percent upbeat, focusing only on the life’s sunshine. I’m happy with it.

If you’re looking for a good book with lots of trivia about America’s cities and landmarks, check out Travels with Maggie on Amazon. It’s G-rated and an excellent book to read together with your kids. Maggie was my canine companion on the six-month birding trip. — Book cover by Sherry Watcher.

For the past year or so, I’ve been working on a second book about my adventures as a late-blooming, bird-watching old broad, tentatively titled Bird Droppings. It also looks at the world through Pollyanna’s eyes. I’m thinking I might start trying to market the chapters I’ve written as single essays.

Meanwhile, as I think about my memoir, tentatively titled Between Wars, a book that will focus on my 37 years as a journalist while also being the mother of five children, and surviving a nasty divorce, I know I will have to put the rose-colored glasses in the trash bin.

I’m not sure I can do it. But I’ve started going back through all my journals and finding I at least enjoy doing the research.

For example, as a former river rat who took two, 16-day, white-water rafting trips down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, I almost couldn’t stop laughing after reading this entry:  The difference between a fairy tale and a river trip: The fairy tale begins “Once upon a time,” while the river trip tales begins: “No shit! There I was…”

            This past day’s entry also contained some quotes that are still worth repeating.

Me, at the Standard-Examiner in 1992, when I was the paper’s environmental reporter. It was my favorite newspaper job, and I held it for 10 years before I became city editor to get more money.. — Photo by Charles Trentelman.

“To the dull mind all nature is leaden. To the illuminated mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson. I think I was reading one of Emerson’s journals at this time.

I was also probably reading one of Natalie Goldberg’s writing books, too. For I wrote down this quote of hers. “If you do not fear the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you.”

I also wrote down some thoughts of my own, in quote form. “At one time in life, I sought logic in everything. Now I know better,” and “If our thoughts were not continually shifting, we’d be a broken record to ourselves.” – Pat Bean

Bean Pat: What a Waste https://brevity.wordpress.com/2019/08/29/what-a-waste/ Leonard Bernstein and scammed writers.

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

 

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Mornings with Scamp

“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.” — J.B. Priestley 

Morning coming over the desert behind my apartment complex in the Cataline Foothills in Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean

Sunshine and Doves

I’m a morning person, most often up before the sun peeks above the horizon. At the first upward flick of an eyelid, I’m ready and eager to bounce out of bed. It’s as if I can’t wait to discover what surprises the day will bring. It probably helps that I an optimist who usually thinks all glasses are half full and not half empty.

Scamp, with his head cocked in curiosity. — Photo by Shanna Lee

“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a frsh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.” — J.B. Priestley

This early morning exuberance has not helped me win friends over the years, especially among coworkers who only came to life just before quitting time. It might have helped if I hadn’t always been so verbosely cheerful, but the bratty kid in me was usually in charge.

My early morning enthusiasm these days, however, is greeted with equal enthusiasm from my new canine companion Scamp, who in my introductory blog https://patbean.net/2019/05/13/loss-and-joy-and-a-true-friend/  about him, I then called Harley.

He was called Smidge at the shelter when I adopted him, then Harley by me because I simply liked the name and couldn’t think of a better one – until a few days ago.  He was acting like a scamp, and I realized that he actually looked a bit like the dog Scamp in Disney’s movie “Lady and the Tramp.” This is particularly true of his silver-gray coloring and the cute way he cocks his head when looking at you.

Scamp reminds me of Scamp in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp.

The name fit like a paw in wet cement — perfectly.

When I first got Smidge/Harley/Scamp on May 11, I had to walk him almost hourly as he hadn’t been house-trained, although he was eight months old.  The walk schedule is now up to about every three hours, and he is sleeping all through the night. I am very happy, wildly happy, to say Scamp was a quick learner and we haven’t had an accident in over a week. Now if I could just teach him the meaning of the word NO!

But when he and I wake up, we are both ready to get outdoors and watch the sun come up. Well, I like to watch the sunrise, Scamp likes to chase the mourning doves that are still snoozing on the ground. The important thing is mornings make both of us happy.

Life is good.

Bean Pat:  Badlands National Park https://anotefromabroad.com/2019/06/10/south-dakota-badlands-national-park/  One of my favorite places.

Blog pick of the day.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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             “Color is a power which directly influences the soul.” – Wassily Kandinsky

Painted bunting — Wikimedia photo

The Bunting Came with a Bonus

Back in my early birding days, I spent some time at Texas’ Cedar Hill State Park near Dallas in search of a painted

Female painted bunting. — Wikimedia photo

bunting. It took three days of breaking spider webs on trails in the early mornings, and one day of slogging through the mud after a night of rain, but I eventually found one of these clownish-colored birds.

When in the open, you can’t miss the adult male.  He has a bright blue head, a scarlet breast, a green back, and a red rump. The female and first-year males are more subdued, dressed in shades of green, with the breast leaning toward yellow on the color wheel. These birds, however, feel more comfortable when ensconced in thick foliage, thus my difficulty in finding one.

The colorful bird I finally found on my fourth day of looking was an easily identifiable adult male perched in a tree near a small pond.  The painted bunting became bird species No. 383 on my life list (which now numbers 710). The painted bunting is nicknamed nonpareil (without equal) in French and mariposa pintado (painted butterfly) in Spanish because of its spectacular appearance.

Appropriately, a group of painted buntings is called a mural or a palette.

Green heron — Wikimedia photo

Sad to say, the bird’s beauty made it a popular caged bird until its capture and captivity became illegal in the United States. It is still, however, a hot item with the international pet trade, and the birds are particularly popular as pets in Asia and Europe, which may be one of the reasons its numbers are dwindling.

Meanwhile, as I was enjoying my front-row view of the Cedar Hill painted bunting years ago, it was suddenly displaced on the limb by another bird. I would have been upset, except this bird was a green heron – bird species No. 384.

Some days, life is really good.

Bean Pat: Traveling with dogs. https://jamieandthedogs.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/yep-just-me-and-four-dogs-heading-east/  This reminds me of my years on the road in my small RV, only I just had one dog.

*Available on Amazon, Travels with Maggie features a list of birds saw each leg of the journey.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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            “The daily hummingbird assaults existence with improbability.” Ursula K. Le Guin

Male Anna’s hummingbird. — Wikimedia photo

A Constant Delight at my Nectar Feeder

            If you want to see hummingbirds in North America, then Southeastern Arizona is the best place to be. While there are over 300 species of hummingbirds that can be found in South America, only about 17 come north across the Mexican border. Of that number, at least 13 of these species can be found around Tucson, where I currently live.

Female Anna’s hummingbird — Wikimedia photo

In my home state of Texas, the only hummingbird I would likely see is the ruby-throated.  Here in Tucson, I get six species regularly visiting my third-floor balcony nectar feeder every year: broad-billed, black-chinned, Costa’s, Anna’s, broad-tailed and rufous. Although it didn’t come to my feeder, I even spotted a Lucifer hummingbird in the tree next to my balcony two years ago. That was a life bird for me, and a one-time event so far in my life.

Of the hummingbirds that visit my apartment, I may only see one or two rufous during an entire year. The other five, however, are more common, especially Anna’s. This feisty little bird doesn’t migrate so I get to see it almost daily throughout the year.

The females are dainty things, with glittering green and white feathers with perhaps a few sparkling magenta gems around their necks. The

I saw my first Costa;s hummingbird from my third-floor Tucson balcony. — Wikimedia photo

males are agile dive bombers who guard my nectar feeder against other hummers, and they have brilliant crimson-red crowns and necks that shimmer in the sunlight. I never tire of watching them.

Perhaps because Anna’s favorite food is nectar from feeders put out by humans, they have had no problem surviving loss of habitat, as so many other birds have. In the early 20th century, Anna’s could only be found on the Baja California Peninsula but they have slowly been spreading northward and inward.

The hummers were named after Anna Massena, Duchess of Rivoli. Why? This wondering-wanderer immediately asks. I didn’t find the answer. Do you know?

Bean Pat: https://naturehasnoboss.com/2019/06/04/as-the-snow-melts/  It’s time to visit Yellowstone.

*Available on Amazon, Travels with Maggie features a list of birds saw each leg of the journey.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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