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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Pure fakery fun! Me in 2012 standing on The Circle in the Grand Ole Opry House during the last of my RV-ing years. 

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours.” — J.D. Salinger

The Write Words

          Author Dani Shapiro compares writing to music.

“When you have written something … listen to it,” she says in Still Writing, which Terry Tempest Williams calls “a wise, pragmatic soulful guide to the writing life.”

“What instrument does your language call to mind? A cello? An electric guitar? An oboe?“ Dani asks.

Hmmm!

Dani’s words, of course, made me ask what instrument my writing calls to mind. I’m not a musical person so coming up with an answer took a good bit of thought.

First drafts, definitely a fiddle, I finally decided. If the editing goes well, and my efforts to make my words sing succeeds, perhaps a flute. It would be nice to feel like my writing floats harmoniously across the page.

But then I realized I also wanted my writing to have a drummer lounging in the background, one who sounds off enough to echo the beat of myself walking to Thoreau’s different pace.

It was a fun question to answer, perhaps because there were no right or wrong answers.

Bean Pat: Top 10 of the Decade https://lithub.com/the-10-best-debut-novels-of-the-decade/ Lit Hub’s choices. I find I usually agree with only half of any such lists, but these books are worth checking out if you’re looking for something to read.

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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I’m currently reading this book — and loving it.

          A love of books, of holding a book, turning its pages, looking at its pictures, and living its fascinating stories goes hand-in-hand with a love of learning.” – Laura Bush

What I’m Reading

          I’m reading In My Mind’s Eye, a collection of short essays written by Welch author Jan Morris when she was in her nineties. Jan is one of my favorite authors, and I’m loving her unvarnished look at the world through the lens of age.

Dr. Johnson’s Dicitionary, first published in the 18th century is still lurking around in book stores.

Jan, who was once James and served in the military and climbed Mount Everest in the 1950’s, has written almost too many travel and history books to count. In My Mind’s Eye is a kind of daily diary, however. Topics range from talking to your cat to her idea of a smile test.

On Day 59 in the book, Jan talks about looking through her vast collection of books for Dr. Johnson’s dictionary, fifth edition, 1788. As he picks up the book, Jan notices the damage on the spine and remembers that it was put there by her “darling daughter,” 50 years ago when her pram was parked by the bookcase.

Who in the heck is Dr. Johnson? I stopped reading and looked him up. He was Samuel Johnson, considered one of the best writers of the 18th Century, and best known for his Dictionary of the English Language. I love reading a book in which I learn something new.

Meanwhile, another of my favorite days in Jan’s book is the one in which she rewrote the words to the battle hymn Onward Christian Soldiers.

Onward friends and neighbors, into the kindly sun,

          Where we are paid-up members, each and every one.

          We need no theologians, no doctrinal guff,

          No military idioms, no sham repentance stuff –

          We take the worthy with the nasty, the gentle with the rough.

          The absolute of absolutes. Kindness is enough.!”

Kindness is my word for the year.

  Bean Pat: To all the many, many authors who have challenged my mind and broadened my horizons.

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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          Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind, and dance the mountains like a flame.” – William Butler Yeats

A rare view of Mount Lemmon with snow on its peaks. — Photo by Pat Bean

Morning Thoughts

I was in my early teens before I left the flatlands of Texas and saw my first mountain. It was love at first sight.

I suspect that love was one of the reasons I settled in Tucson for my retirement years, instead of in Texas where the majority of my children live and where I had planned to settle after my full-time RV-ing years.

One of the first things I see every morning, when I look off my bedroom balcony or while I’m walking my canine companion, Scamp, is Mount Lemmon. I live in its shadow, and just looking at it fills my heart with joy.

Mount Lemmon, at 9,159 feet, is the tallest one in the Santa Catalina Range. Its name is rare in that it honors a woman, botanist Sara Plummer Lemmon who hiked to its peak in1881.

It’s currently the monsoon season here in the Sonoran Desert, and while it’s been a dry one, the mountain still exudes a green patina at midday. In the early mornings, the rising sun casts shadows that define its nooks, crannies, and canyons. And in the evening, as the mountain reflects back the last rays of the sun, it takes on a rosy glow.

The mountain’s face is ever-changing, and I never tire of looking to my north.

Some people need to live by the sea, others in a forest. I need to live by a mountain. It steadies me and sings to my soul – and always lets me know which direction I’m facing

Check out Travels with Maggie on Amazon.

Bean Pat: One of my favorite books is Men to Match My Mountains by Irving Stone. Sara Plummer Lemmon and Isabella Bird, who is the author of A Lady in the Rocky Mountains (also a favorite book) add notes to history showing women can match the mountains, too.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. 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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Piddling around with art is one of the things that is always on my daily to-do list. Some days I paint, and some days I don’t. This simple one of a tree and meadow were done a couple of years ago.

          By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you’ve achieved – and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles and losses – you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments.” — Jack Canfield

Morning Thoughts

          As I picked up my daily journal yesterday morning, I noted that it was 8:30 a.m. I then wrote “It’s not yet nine a.m. and I have walked my dog Scamp, made my bed, washed dishes, blogged and read a chapter in Carole King’s memoir. A Natural Woman.”

I paused for a moment, then laughed as I continued writing. “It feels good to give myself credit for the things I’ve done instead of beating myself up for all the things on my to-do list that I haven’t done.”

          All I can say is that at 80, it’s about time.

Reading my journals of the past, I discovered that I was constantly abusing myself for not doing everything I planned or wanted to do, even though in the earlier journals when I was a working mother, I found myself amazed that I had managed to do so much.

While I no longer beat myself up, today’s to-do list is, as always, longer than my attention and energy can handle. I like it that way. It assures that I will never wake up and find myself with nothing to do.

But being OK with not accomplishing it all is a blessing that has only come with age. I like that, too.

Check out Travels with Maggie on Amazon.

Bean Pat: Silly Saturday https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/09/14/silly-saturday-the-past-unblogged/ A plug for blogging that made me laugh.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. 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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Mission San José de Tumacácori: I did an onsite sketch of the mission on a painting field trip a while back, then added watercolors when I got back home.

          “The books that help you most are those which make you think the most.” – Pablo Neruda

Morning Thoughts

          I buy books and eBooks from Amazon, I buy books at Barnes and Noble, I buy books from Bookmans (a used book store here in Tucson), I buy audible books, and I go to the library weekly. Just thinking about not having something within arm’s reach to read at any given moment would be cause for a panic attack.

This was the view behind the mission, which is located off Highway 19 south of Tucson. It’s an interesting place to visit if you’re in the area. — Art by Pat Bean

Thus, it was that I found myself standing in front of the “Good Reads” book stand that welcomes visitors to the Dusenberry-River Library, the closest library branch to my apartment in Tucson’s Catalina Foothills. The stand contains mostly current best-sellers, and I usually make my first selection of books to check out here before moving on to look for more esoteric choices.

“So, what do you like reading?” A kindly voice asks. “A little bit of everything except for horror,” I told the tall, slender woman adding books to the stand.

“Maybe you’ll like this,” she asks, pulling a book from the backside of the stand. “It’s well-written and funny,” The book was Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb, and is about a therapist and her therapist.

“Sounds interesting,” I said, and put the book into my bag for later check out. (I’ve already started reading it, and I love it.)

She then brought out a second book, one I knew was a popular book club selection and had gotten rave reviews. She asked if I had read it.

I sort of frowned, then noted that I had started it but found it unoriginal and boring. I felt guilty about saying this, until she smiled and said, “I’m so glad you said that. I tried to finish it twice but couldn’t. But everyone else I’ve talked with absolutely loves it.”

I’m hoping to meet up with this library worker the next time I visit.

Check out Travels with Maggie on Amazon.

Bean Pat: Libraries everywhere. Visit one soon.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. 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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“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” — Friedrich Nietsche

I was trying to come up with a name for this recent watercolor and all I could think of was “Happy Poppies.” I asked my friend, Jean, what she would name the painting, and she came up with “Poppies ,Poppies,” and invoked a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.” Our two minds certainly aren’t on the same page. — Watercolor by Pat Bean

Time Changed the Lens in my Eyes

How each of us views life is colored by a unique perspective – our own. Truth is usually somewhere in the middle. I first began to see this years ago when I compared how different reporters covered the same event, and then by listening to my adult children render five different accounts of the same event – or if I added in my two cents, six different accounts.

Eyewitnesses of events can vary so greatly they sound like two different happenings. For example, when I was an environmental reporter, I might lead my story about a speech by a lumber industry spokesman by using his quote: “A tree can produce enough oxygen to keep five or more people alive for a year.” But the paper’s business reporter’s lead would more likely quote him saying: “Logging is the lifeblood of hundreds of small communities; stop cutting trees and people will starve or turn to welfare.”

An art teacher once told me to set out to paint a bad painting as an exercise to free my anxiety. Well, this one fits that description. I was not happy at all with how this yellow-crowned night heron turned out. Life is like that. You win some and lose some.

Both of us are accurately quoting the speaker, but the reader is likely to only like, or even believe, the story that bends in his or her direction. The polarity of politics today certainly supports this conclusion.

But I also got to thinking about how this dichotomy even works as we age while reading Mary Karr’s book, The Art of Memoir. “Getting used to who you are is a lifelong spiritual struggle,” she explained while talking about how age can change how we look at our own pasts.

Susan Branch, author of “The Fairy Tale Girl,” explains this phenomenon by noting: “The thing I like about getting older is finally getting a handle on what the heck was going on back then.”

I’m also reading Dani Shapiro’s book, Still Writing, and she says: “…the idea that there is ever a definitive spot from which life can be understood is, I think, to miss the point of the ever-evolving nature of consciousness and life itself.”

I find it quite interesting that these three writers, so unalike in their personalities and writing styles, all seem to agree that everyone sees things differently, and as we age, even we begin to see things differently than we did when we were younger. I know I do.

Confusing, but it keeps life interesting.

Bean Pat: Bird Note https://www.birdnote.org/ A great way to learn about birds from your comfortable living room.

Check out Travels with Maggie on Amazon.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. 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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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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