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Mrs. Polifax is quite fond of flowered hats.

“She drew herself up to her full height—it was a little difficult on a donkey—and said primly, ‘I have found that in painful situations it is a sensible idea to take each hour as it comes and not to anticipate beyond. But oh how I wish I could have a bath!’” – Words spoken by Dorothy Gilman’s fictional Emily Pollifax, a white-haired senior citizen who decided she wanted to be a spy.

A Series Quite Worth Rereading Today            

I discovered Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax books back in the 1970s, which marked some major turning points in my life. I was influenced by the character’s upbeat, adventurous and realistic attitude, and her efforts to make her life more meaningful than garden club meetings. I was, in a different way, trying to do the same.

Angela Lansbury played Mrs. Pollifax in a 1999 CBS TV Movie. And Rosalind Russell played her in a 1971 movie. Angela fit the role much better than Rosalind.

Gilman’s The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax was the first book in the series, written in 1966, and Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled, published in 2000, was the 14th. On discovering the books, I quickly read all that had been written at the time and eagerly awaited the next to come out.

Given that I have been a bit out of sorts with the current coronavirus and world situation, and my decision to stay isolated, I decided I would reread the Pollifax books. I finished the first of the 14 in the series at 2 a.m. this morning, and am eager to go on to the next.

Perhaps you would like to join me. Here are a few Emily Pollifax quotes so you can judge for yourself.

“Tragedies don’t interest me, tragedies and heartbreaks are all alike, what matters is how a person meets them, how they survive them.”

“It’s terribly important for everyone, at any age, to live to his full potential. Otherwise a kind of dry rot sets in, a rust, a disintegration of personality.”

“Everything is a matter of choice, and when we choose are we not gambling on the unknown and its being a wise choice? And isn’t it free choice that makes individuals of us? … I believe myself that life is quite comparable to a map … a constant choice of direction and route.”

“I have a flexible mind—I believe it’s one of the advantages of growing old. I find youth quite rigid at times.”

Dorothy Gilman

“Because lately I’ve had the feeling we rush toward something-some kind of Armageddon-set into motion long ago. There are so many people in the world, and so much destructiveness. I was astonished when I first heard that a night-blooming cereus blooms only once a year, and always at midnight. It implies such intelligence somewhere.”

Gilman was born in 1923 and died in 2012 at the age of 88. Her Pollifax series was begun at a time when women in mystery meant Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, and international espionage meant young government men like Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Emily Pollifax became a spy in the 1960s’ and may be the only spy in literature to belong simultaneously to the CIA and her local garden club, according to Wikipedia.

Bean Pat: A tribute to Dorothy Gilman for the many, many hours of pleasure and contemplation she has given me for nearly half a century, and to the hundreds of other writers who have done the same

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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“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” — Robert Frost 

Chillon Caste at sunset.

Two Poems from Childhood

When I was quite young, about 10 as I best recall, I began reading a poem that I came across in one of the books in my late grandfather’s collection, and which I remember clearly to this day. My grandfather had died when I was about three years old. I don’t remember him, but I evidently inherited his love of reading, and also, according to my mother, his wanderlust.

After his death, his books were stored in an upright chest with a door — and forgotten. When I found them, it was like having dug up the buried treasure Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about in Treasure Island, the first of my grandfather’s books I read.

His book stash, mostly cheap book club copies of the classics that were already beginning to disintegrate when I discovered them, included the entire works of such authors as Stevenson, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, James Fennimore Cooper, and Jack London.

Poppies — By Pat Bean

I read them all. The poem that fascinated me, however, was in a literature book that I later learned had belonged to my mother. It seems she had failed a high school English class and had to purchase the text book and take the course over.

The poem was titled The Prisoner of Chillon, written by Lord Byron in 1816. It was a ghastly long narrative, but I eventually memorized it, as determined to accomplish the achievement as today’s youth are to achieve the highest level in some video game or another.

I was fascinated by the way the words went together, just as I had been by a shorter poem that started off my memorization goals. I found it in the same literature book, and although I didn’t understand its true meaning, I loved the way the words rolled off my tongue. While I’ve long forgotten the exact words of The Prisoner of Chillon, I can still recall from memory John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields.

“In Flanders Field the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; And in the sky;

The larks, still bravely singing, fly.

Scarce heard beneath the guns below…”

I wouldn’t know I would want to become a writer for another 15 years. And even then, I thought such a lofty goal was not for the likes of a high school dropout like me. Now, as I approach my eighth decade on this planet, I wonder how much McCrae’s simply words sent me off in a direction that has given me joy, sustained me through bad times, and has satisfied my love of learning, both for the things I learned in order to write about them, and two in my unending pursuit to learn how to be a better writer. The two are unending tasks that will fill my days with purpose until the hour my hands can no longer hold a pen and my fingers have not the strength to press a computer’s keyboard.

While I’ve long forgotten the exact wordage of Lord Byron’s Prisoner of Chillon, its message has long intrigued and influenced me. The poem is about a prisoner who became so used to his chains that he misses them when he is finally freed. A simple plot, if one can call it that, but the wording seems like magic to my ears and mind.

I’ve thought about the poem’s premise often, ever since my 10-year-old eyes first went through the narrative line by line. While I’ve had no physical chains to restrain me in my own life, I’ve recognized that there are many ways to imprison oneself: Refusal to change, always playing life safe, not continuing to adapt with the circumstances, and not accepting responsibility for one’s own life.

I’ve dallied with all these, but then I remember, and grieve for The Prisoner of Chillon. These words of Byron, which come toward the last of his poem, are ones still stuck in my head:

And all my bonds aside were cast,

These heavy walls to me had grown

A hermitage – and all my own!

And half I felt as they were come

To tear me from a second home

With spiders I had friendship made

And watch’d them in their sullen trade.

Had seen the mice by moonlight play,

And why should I feel less than they?

We were all inmates of one place.

And I, the monarch of each race,

Had power to kill – yet strange to tell!

In quiet we had learn’d to dwell’

My very chains and I grew friends

So much a long communion tends

To make us what we are – even I

Regain’d my freedom with a sigh.

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These are times when I need the calming influence of nature to calm my thoughts. This photo is of Maggie at Andrew Jackson State Park in South Carolina, which I describe better in my book, Travels with Maggie. — Photo by Pat Bean

“What is history? An echo of the past in the future, a reflex from the future on the past.” – Victor Hugo

History in the Making

          I share a birth year with Lily Tomlin and Tina Turner. The three of us were all born in 1939. I discovered this fact while doing research for my memoir, which if it ever gets written will be called Between Wars.

The most significant events of 1939 were the official ending of the Great Depression and the official beginning of World War II. I was raised by a mother who had been influenced by the Depression and could make a penny stretch to the moon. While I’m not nearly as thrifty, it pains me to see things go to waste.

As for the war, I would only be six years old when it ended, and thus have few personal memories about it. The one thing I do recall, probably because I was severely scolded, was finding and childishly destroying the family’s stash of ration coupons. As I vaguely remember, it meant that I ate my cereal without sugar for the month. According to the history books I studied in school, items rationed during the war included sugar, meat, coffee, and automobile fuel.

I overheard a conversation once that left me believing my dad had illegally acquired gasoline to take my brother to the doctor. Knowing my dad, that’s quite possibly true, but he probably had to do so because he earlier wasted gas gadding about for his own purposes, Gas, by the way, cost about 17 cents a gallon in 1939

I compared rationing in my early years with what is going on in the world today because of the coronavirus pandemic. Stores here in Tucson, and elsewhere I’m sure, are limiting how much toilet paper, and other items considered essential to life as we know it, can be purchased to halt hoarding.

Meanwhile, on a much lighter note, there were some other interesting firsts for 1939.

Batman was introduced in Detective Comics No. 27 and Superman got his own comic book. John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath was published and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlow character was introduced in The Big Sleep.

Premiering on the big screen were Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, while Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood gossip show made its radio debut. Nylon stockings went on sale for the first time and Harvard University students swallowed goldfish.

In New York, both the Baseball Hall of Fame and LaGuardia Airport opened.

Judy Garland’s Over the Rainbow topped the music charts, with Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade coming in second, Kate Smith’s God Bless America third and Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit fourth. It was Holiday’s first civil rights song.

I wonder if future 80-year-olds will look back on their own birth years – and discover that the coronavirus pandemic tops the list of significant events?

Bean Pat: A Slice of Life https://lindahoye.com/and-yet/ A reflective post for today’s times.

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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A Time to Read

         “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” – James Baldwin

If you take your book outside to read in the fresh head, keep a lookout for butterflies. — Photo by Pat Bean

Books: A Key to the Universe 

I read a whole book yesterday. It was an Amazon Prime kindle eBook freebie, The Lost Hills, a new murder mystery series by Goldberg featuring Eve Ronin. It was a page-turner tease. The second book in the series won’t be out until 2001.

Perhaps you will see a white one.

Thankfully Patricia Briggs’ latest Mercy Thompson book, Smoke Bitten, recently came out on audible and I downloaded it with my monthly credit. I usually read during the day and listen to books at night in bed.

Currently I’ve gone through all the library books I had checked out. But the libraries here in Tucson are now closed for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, forcing me to look elsewhere.

First, however, I’m going to exhaust the books I already own, both physical books and eBooks that I haven’t yet gotten around to reading. There are actually quite a few of these since I am an admitted bookaholic, a condition my limited budget much appreciates. I also might reread a few of my favorites.

I recently reread Call of the Wild, which I first encountered when I was about 10. After viewing the latest movie based on the book. I wanted to see how it compared to Jack London’s original work. I decided the movie kept to the book’s basic premise, but

Or maybe even a brown one. We all need beauty in our life — and lots of books. 

Disney-fied it so it was less gritty.

I also want to reread the Dr. Dolittle books, another childhood favorite. After seeing that movie I sent my 10-year-old great-grandson Junior a copy of the first volume of Hugh Loftings’ stories about the man who could talk to animals. Junior called me this week to tell me had had finished reading it, so I sent him the second volume.

To have a great-grandson who is a reader, and who even likes one of my favorite childhood books, in this age of YouTube and video games, was joy to my soul

Learning to read was one of the most important events in my life. Books are my ticket to the universe and everything in it – or even not in it. I read just about every genre except horror, but mysteries, fantasies, travel journals, autobiographies and nature books are my favorites.

Just in case anyone is interested, following is a list of books I’ve read thus far in 2020. Yes, I keep a list. And Martin Walker is a newly discovered favorite author for me.

The Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg, an Eve Ronin mystery, 3-2020

Black Diamond, by Martin Walker, audible, 3rd Bruno, 3-2020

Terns of Endearment, by Donna Andrews, a Meg Langslow cozy mystery 3-2020

Miss D and Me: Life with the Invincible Bette Davis by Kathryn Sermak, 3-2020

The Dark Vineyard, by Martin Walker, Bruno audible, book 2 3-2020

Bruno: Chief of Police, by Martin Walker, audible, first of a mystery series about a French detective, and second I’ve read. good book. 3-2010

Monkey Dancing by Daniel Glick. Great book about a divorced father who takes his 13-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter on a trip around the world. 3-2020

The Whitstable Pearl by Julie Wassmer, good cozy mystery. 3-2020

The Mage Winds Trilogy: Winds of Fate, Winds of Change and Winds of Fury, by Mercedes Lackey, audible reread 2-2020

In Patagonia, by Bruce Chatwin, 2-2020

The World That We Knew, by Alice Hoffman, 2-2020

BirdNote, a collection of stories from the public radio program, 2-2020.

Call of the Wild by Jack London, reread, 2-2020

Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer. Great book. 2-2020

Survival of the Fritters by Ginger Bolton, a so-so cozy mystery. 2-2020

This Boy’s Life, by Tobias Wolff, 2-2020, great book. I couldn’t put it down.

The First Girl Child, by Amy Harmon, good book. 1-2020

The Yellow Envelope by Kim Dinan, 1-2020. Great Book

Explorers’ Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery & Adventure, 1-2020,

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro 1-2020

Just Kids by Patti Smith 1-2020

Where the Angels Lived by Margaret McMullan, great book, 1-2020.

available on Amazon

So, what are you reading? This bookaholic wants to know.

Bean Pat: Travels and Trifles https://travelsandtrifles.wordpress.com/2020/03/28/lens-artists-challenge-90-distance/ The Distance Challenge, a blog for today.

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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“Nothing creates cool like scarcity.” – Neil Blumenthal

I wouldn’t mind having those 13 rolls of toilet paper that Scamp destroyed in the early months after I rescued him. — Photo by Pat Bean

I just finished reading Monkey Dancing by Daniel Glick, which is about the father taking his 13-year-old son and his nine-year-old daughter on a trip around the world to see the wonders of this planet that are disappearing.

It was a trip that opened his children’s eyes to how humans are desecrating our planet, and how the poor and unprivileged in many countries eke out their daily lives. It’s a trip, at least in my tree-hugger-peace-loving-eyes, that would benefit many, especially home-owning Americans.

I know my eyes were opened and appreciation for my own life increased dramatically when I saw Maasai women daily walking miles across Africa’s lion country to fetch water.

What horrified Glick’s teenage son most on the trip, however, were instances when he had to use primitive bathroom facilities that lacked toilet paper, or even toilets. He worried so much about this that he made sure to always carry some of the behind-wiping tissue with him wherever he went.

I thought about that this morning on my 6 a.m. walk with my canine companion Scamp. One of the quaint, a bit off for sure, old guys who live in my apartment complex passed me carrying a huge package of toilet paper.

As advised because of the Corvid-19 virus currently sweeping across the planet, I kept my distance.

Scamp, before I could stop him,, went in for a hug and a scratch behind the ears, which the man always gives him. Not sure if this was OK or not, but I washed my hands thoroughly when I got back to my apartment.

Anyway, after giving Scamp attention, the red-faced and slightly tipsy man waved the large bundle of toilet paper at me – “I’m going to sell this for $20 a sheet,” he said.

I’m not sure he was kidding.

Bean Pat: If we were sharing coffee https://collinesblog.com/2020/03/22/weekend-coffee-share-one-week-done/ Living with social distancing.

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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Another of the Greek poets I liked was Horace (65-8 B.C.) because he appeared to enjoy nature. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

Every cloud has its silver lining, you just have to go through all the darkness to get it.” – Stef Railey

Euripides (480 B.C.-406 B.C.)

As I continue to read quotes from the ancient Greeks in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, I finally came across one of the writers who didn’t raise my blood pressure. It was Euripides.

He was, according to Wikipedia, identified with theatrical innovations that have profoundly influenced drama down to modern times, especially in the representation of traditional, mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

More important, in my mind, is that he didn’t demean women as so many of the Greek poets so frequently did.

A bust of Euripides

A bust of Euripides. — Wikimedia photo

.

 

Euripides’ written thoughts also agreed with many of mine; and this morning when I was looking back through my writing notebooks for something to blog about, I noted that I had saved many of his quotes, such as:: “I have found power in the mysteries of thought.” And “In this world second thoughts, it seems, are best.”

These appealed to me because the years have finally given me time to think and connect the dots of my life, something I am finding fascinating.

Waste not tears over old griefs,” he wrote, and “Every man is like the company he is wont to keep.” Both actions seem sensible,  I believe.

And his advice: “In a case of dissension, never dare to judge till you’ve heard the other side,” was always an important task of my journalism years.

Thank you, Euripides, for being the silver lining among the majority of those Greek macho old farts whose anti-female words are still being repeated today.

Bean Pat: Glorious books https://isobelandcat.wordpress.com/2020/03/04/books-glorious-books/

available on Amazon

Any blogger who loves books as much as I do deserves a Bean Pat.

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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Morning Thoughts

When Scmp gets bored, he looks for things to shred. This morning it was two bookmarks. At least he doesn’t eat the pieces, and I get plenty of exercise picking up after him. — Photo by Pat Bean

With a cup of cream-laced coffee in hand, and my canine companion Scamp squeezed into my recliner with me, I continued my morning perusal of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotes, the first edition of which was published 165 years ago. Just for fun, I’ve been reading a couple pages a day of the old book.

It’s arranged chronologically and I’ve only gotten up to the 300 B.C.s. This morning’s reading included words by the

Theocritus — Wikimedia photo

Greek poet Theocritus’ His thoughts echoed in my own mind, speaking to an old broad who has finally slowed down and longs for peace in her life — which given the chaos in the world has been difficult to achieve.

Wrote Theocritus: “Sweet is the whispering music of yonder pine that sings. Our concern be peace of mind: some old

crone let us seek. To spit on us for luck and keep unlovely things afar. Cicala to cicala, and ant to ant, And kestrels dear to kestrels, but to me the Muse and song.

“The frog’s life is most jolly, my lads; he has no care … Who shall fill up his cup; for he has drink to spare … Verily, great grace may go. With a little gift; and precious are all things that come from friends.”

I thought it interesting that on the same page, Bion, another Greek poet, also mentioned frogs: “Though boys throw stones at frogs in sport, the frogs do not die in sport, but in earnest.” A good point to ponder, I think.

And now I’ll go put up Bartlett until tomorrow morning, and go walk Scamp, He has been looking at me with injured eyes because I have been ignoring him.

I wonder if Theocritus and Bion ever used a dog as an analogy in their writings?”

Bean Pat: Never Assume https://forestgardenblog.wordpress.com/2020/02/23/sunday-dinner-never-assume/ My thoughts exactly.

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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The Good Old Days, Or Not

Pondering the Past and Present

“Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.” – Franklin Pierce Adams

I suspect I would have had less time to piddle around with my watercolors if I had been a pioneer woman. — Art by Pat Bean 

I’m reading Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life. At one point in the book, he is told by his mother’s boyfriend that children shouldn’t be bored, that there were plenty of things to keep them occupied, and then he went on to note that when he was a boy there were no TVs or record players.

A sketching day is always a  good day. Art by Pat Bean

The words brought up the times I had used similar phrases to younger generations. “When I was your age, I walked two miles to school, and I was 14 before our family had its own television,” are things I specifically remember saying.

The implication is that those were the good old days. But were they really?

My five children, now in their 50s and 60s, are all still living. In the olden days, before vaccinations, they probably wouldn’t. As an American woman, I can vote. Before 1920, I couldn’t have

I have more time to read, and more books to read than I would have had as a pioneer woman. And I have the internet, which I love despite its flaws and capabilities to spread lies and hate. The Web satisfies my curiosity for knowledge and keeps me connected to my widely scattered family, and eventually exposes the world as it is.

While it certainly would be more peaceful without such knowledge, we are thinking beings and not ostriches that stick their heads in the sand, or so it is said when danger is on the horizon.

As an old broad, I’ve experienced a bit of both the old and new days. Like everything else in life, neither was or is perfect. I. however, I prefer to live in the present, and enjoy the advantages even if I have to live with the disadvantages.

Bean Pat: Friday Wisdom https://andrewsviewoftheweek.com/2020/02/21/friday-wisdom-end-meeting/ Short and true.

Blog pick of the 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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When I’m not reading or writing these days, or walking my dog Scamp, I piddle around with my watercolors. This is my latest piece. — Art by Pat Bean

“A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.” – Martin Farquhar Tupper, 1810-1889

Morning Thoughts

I am a fan of quotes, especially the ones that say a lot in a few words. So, it was that John Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations was one of the reference books in my personal library during my earlier writing days.

It was a thick, sturdy book with a green cover that I had acquired sometime in the 1960s. And it was among the hundreds of books that I gave to friends, sold to a second-hand store, or donated to a charity thrift store in 2004 when I downsized all my belongings to only what would fit in a 21-foot RV. I had bookcases in every room of my h

And this was the one before that.   –Art by Pat Bean

Recently, my friend Jean found a copy of Bartlett’s book and gave it to me. It was a 15th edition, published in 1980 on the 125th anniversary of the book’s first edition published in 1855. This one, also a sturdy book meant to last, has a faded red cover and 1,540 pages.

As I hold it in my hands and peruse the contents, it feels like I am holding a valued treasure – but one that has lost its purpose. To find the quote I used at the beginning of this post, I first searched the 500-plus page index for the word books.

There were well over 200 entries in print so small these old eyes had to hold the book under a bright light to read them.

Each few-words entry was followed by a page number and a line designation. It took about 20 minutes for me to find the quote I used, and I only looked up about a dozen of the entries.

Today, when I’m searching for an appropriate quote for my posts, I type in a word on my Bing search engine, and immediately have hundreds of entries to choose from.

So, I won’t be using Bartlett as a reference source. But it’s quite fun reading on its own, and bringing back memories long forgotten by this old broad. One was the songs of Stephen Foster, lines from which were included among the quotes and which were quite popular when I was a kid.

Oh Susanna, Camptown Races, Old Folks at Home, My Old Kentucky Home, Jennie with the Light Brown Hair, Old Black Joe, Beautiful Dreamer, My Old Kentucky Home. I sang them all with my grandmother.

It feels good to once again have Bartlett’s book sitting on a shelf in my home.

Bean Pat: To my friend Jean for her thoughtful gift. And to book lovers everywhere who value written words.

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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Smiles

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. – Leo Buscaglia

My canine companion Scamp — who is quite aptly named — makes me smile every day. I took this photo of him last night as he claimed the pillows I tossed off my bed before I crawled into it. He followed me onto the bed. Did I mention he is a bed hog? — Photo by Pat Bean

Morning Chat

As I was driving out of the library parking lot the other morning, a woman passed by with such a big smile on her face that I stopped the car, rolled down the window and told her she had a beautiful smile.

I often make art that makes me smile. What makes you smile?

She thanked me and indicated the load of books in her arms, and said it was because of the wonderful library we had.

Now I love this library, but it’s a small branch and not really grand at all. I suspected that this woman was one of those people who was always smiling. If so, she was a kindred spirit.

Back in the 1990s when I was a reporter covering Utah’s Hill Air Force Base, my newspaper’s publisher wanted a photo of me for a promo ad. One of the paper’s photographers took a dozen or more and gave them to the publisher to choose which to use.

The publisher rejected everyone, then called me into his office, and told me he wanted a picture of me looking serious and not smiling. So back I went for another photo session, in which I found it almost impossible not to smile.

I thought about this after reading a memoir in which the author said: Perhaps one day, I’ll be able to swagger into a room with a bad-ass attitude instead of a wide-mouthed smile.

An interesting idea, I thought, contemplating just such an action. And then I thought of how the smiling face of the woman at the library had cheered me. I could do with more smiling faces these days — and less bad-ass attitudes.

          Bean Pat: I just finished reading The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. I loved this book and highly recommend it. It’s a book about overcoming loss, facing reality and simply surviving and carrying on.

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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