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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

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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As I trudge down the path of a new year, I will try to be respectful to everyone — OK, excluding nincompoops. — Photo by Pat Bean

          If we lose love and respect for each other, that is how we finally die.” – Maya Angelou

Morning Rant

          It was a Norman Rockwell painting depicting family that sent my blood pressure soaring yesterday. It wasn’t the painting itself, but the words posted beneath it by some nincompoop. “This is what the other side wants to destroy.”

I also hope to take the time to smell the flowers in the new year. — photo by Pat Bean

How rude, how ignorant, how disrespectful, how self-serving, I thought, I have friends and family on both sides. And no one whom I know wants to destroy families. To use an iconic dead artist whose work depicted the best of Americans in such a way disgusted me. And the idea that some people will buy into the nincompoop’s post frightens me.

Lately, I’ve been rereading Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series. I’m listening to the books on audible at night in bed. I love her world of spirit Companion horses and their chosen Heralds, and the philosophy of Valdemar in that there is no one right way.

I think my brain needs this kind of world to escape to so I can sleep at night because while I love my country, I am horrified at how it is being torn apart by too many people thinking only they are right.

`        Meanwhile, I have been pondering a word to focus on in the New Year. Last year it was Kindness. Lackey’s books, and the nincompoop’s post, finally decided me. My word for the new year is Respect. And I will hold on to Kindness, too.

While these two words won’t solve problems, perhaps they will help people come together, so together they can find solutions. You know me. I’m still looking for that silver lining.

Bean Pat: I can’t resist a best books list. https://bluchickenninja.com/2020/01/11/favourite-books-2010s/

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 needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.” — Philip Marlow as created by Raymond Chandler in Farewell, My Lovely

Crows: Their flock name is A Murder. — Watercolor by Pat Bean

So Many Lists, So Little Time

I frequently come across lists of recommended books to read, from 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die to The 50 Best Travel Books. There is even a book about book lists, aptly titled A Book of Book Lists: A Bibliophile’s Compendium,

Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep was on one of these lists, so I checked it out of the Library. The book, published the year I was born, with its cynical private eye Philip Marlow, was made into a movie in 1946 starring Humphrey Bogart as Marlow and Lauren Bacall as the leading lady.

As a sample of Chandler’s Marlow character, here are a few bits of his dialog:

“She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket.”

“It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.”

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep.

           “A really good detective never gets married.”

           “The kind of lawyer you hope the other fellow has.”

           “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.”

“The streets were dark with something more than night.”

Chandler wrote seven and a half Marlow novels with the eighth finished by Robert B. Parker (whose Spenser books I also love) after Chandler’s death. Parker died in 2010.

Perhaps because I picked up Sue Grafton’s D is for Deadbeat (published 1987) to read right after I finished The Big Sleep, I decided Grafton probably had might have been influenced by Chandler’s books because I saw similarities between Grafton’s protagonist Kinsey Millhome and Philip Marlow. Both are no-nonsense characters with a strong sense of morals, their own if not society’s, and fiercely independent.

Says Kinsey in V is for Vengence: “I know there are people who believe you should forgive and forget. For the record, I’d like to say I’m a big fan of forgiveness as long as I’m given the opportunity to get even first.” And in F is for Forgiveness: I pictured a section of the ladies’ auxiliary cookbook for Sudden Death Quick Snacks… Using ingredients one could keep on the pantry shelf in the event of tragedy.”

Grafton, meanwhile, was more prolific than Chandler, getting all the way up to Y in her alphabetical murder series before she died two years ago. But even she wasn’t as prolific as another of my favorite dead mystery authors, Agatha Christi. Her characters, the egotistical Hercule Poirot (“Hercule Poirot’s methods are his own. Order and method, and ‘the little gray cells.” – The Big Four), and the old pussy Miss Marple (“Everybody in St. Mary Mead knew Miss Marple; fluffy and dithery in appearance, but inwardly as sharp and as shrewd as they make them.” — 4:50 from Paddington) have enthralled me almost as long as I’ve been reading, which is well over half a century.

So, what are you reading?

Bean Pat: To all the authors, dead and alive, whose characters and thoughts and knowledge have enriched my life. Thank you!

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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I was in my 40s when I got hooked on white water rafting, a passion that I indulged in for the next 25 years. I also learned to ski in my 40s. — Photo by Pat Bean

          Live now; make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.” Jean-Luc Picard, from the episode “Inner Light”

A Page from My Journals

One of the eye-openers of rereading my journals is the footnotes I sometimes want to add to the bottom of a page when I come across an entry that has a new, or expanded meaning in my shifting brain.

I had quite a few boyfriends beginning in my 40s, even married one of them — for eight months. We parted friends. When Willie and Julio sing about all the girls they’ve loved before, I think of all the boys I’m glad came along. 

For example, on May 9, 1998, I quoted Katharine Butler Hathaway, whose memoir, The Little Locksmith, was first published in 1943, and then reprinted in 2000 by The Feminist Press. Though disabled, Katharine made a full life for herself.

Wrote Katharine: “It is only by following your deepest instinct that you can lead a rich life … if you let your fear of consequence prevent you from following your deepest instinct then your life will be safe, expedient, and thin.”

My 1998 response to the quote was to recall a Star Trek episode in which Picard realized it was his foolish youth that gave him the necessary confidence to be the captain of the Enterprise.

Thinking back now I realize that it was my own wild 40s, when I was truly on my own for the first time in my life, that was my version of a foolish youth. I don’t think I would be the happy, confident, satisfied, old-broad I am today without those years. And I kinda like this old broad. Whatever it is, my life is not thin.

     Bean Pat: I recently got hooked on this site: poem-a-day@poets.org A poem comes to my email every day in both type and audio form. I listen to the audio. It’s a great way to get my brain juices rolling in the morning.

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 woke up today with a challenging bump. Whom do I trust? Is it Bannon or Trump? … Should I stick with The Times, for reliable views, or is Twitter the place to keep up with the news … I had no reply, so went back to my sleep. To hell with it all. It will keep, it will keep.” – Day 178, Jan Morris at the age of 92.

Jam Morris’ daily thoughts often had a bit of squirreliness about them. Have you ever watched a squirrel running from here to there? They’re fun to watch — and Jan’s words were fun to read, sometimes serious,  full of unanswered questions, and often laugh-provoking. Life can be thoughtful and fun at any age. — Photo by Pat Bean

In My Mind’s Eye by Jan Morris

          Sadly, this morning I finished reading Jan Morris’ book of daily thoughts, In My Mind’s Eye. It ends on Day 188 – but I wanted it to go on forever. I’ve enjoyed her books for years – she has written over 40, mostly travel and history genres. This book, however, is about the journey of aging, a trip that I am now taking.

Jan Morris, who lives and writes these days from her home in Wales.

Since Morris has 13 years on me, I figured she had lots to teach me about the route. I was right. We both regret what the years have done to our bodies but like having this late time in life to reflect forward and backward.

While I’m blessed to be in good health for my age, I do suffer a bit from back pain that has considerably slowed me down.

Thinking about it last week, I cried after finally accepting that I would never again be able to take day-long hikes. But self-pity says Morris — and I agree. – is not attractive. So, like her, I tell myself: “Oh do shut up!”

Morris and I also agree that kindness is the most important of attributes, and preaching it is, at our ages, the best we have to offer the world in this time of chaos.

Writes Morris about kindness: “…it is the ultimate virtue, embracing all others, understood by everyone, recognized by most religions and a pleasure to practice.”

I’m so going to miss my morning thoughts with Morris.

Bean Pat: Viewpoints https://forestgardenblog.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/sunday-dinner-viewpoint/#like-27331 Photos with quotes to match. I loved this.

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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          What a newspaper needs in its news, in its headlines, and on its editorial page is terseness, humor, descriptive power, satire, originality, good literary style, clever condensation, and accuracy, accuracy, accuracy!” — Joseph Pulitzer

Reporter, one of the books I’m currently reading. I give it five stars plus.

It was my Era, Too

          “I’m a survivor from the golden age of Journalism,” wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning author Seymour M. Hersh in his memoir Reporter.

Me, too, was my first thought. While Hersh, who like me is in his 80s, was a big fish swimming upstream in search of truth, I was a small fish in that same stream. As reporters before the year 2000, we were given time to search out the truth, not pressured to put unchecked information out to the public before it was researched and verified.

Reading Hersh’s book, I learned that both of us had started our careers under the thumb of hard-boiled editors who told us that if we thought our mothers loved us, we should still check it out.

Better yet, back then we weren’t pressured to respond to every rumor put out on the internet – because there was no internet instantly available to rumormongers, malicious gossips, bullies, political liars, or simply misinformed individuals.

I believe there are still responsible media outlets out there that are dedicated to facts and context. But we’ve lost a lot of them because they couldn’t survive in today’s world. The big display ads and classified ads that once supported strong newsrooms have disappeared from print pages to web sites and online advertising.

Online seems to be where the world, including myself, does business these days. I submit articles for publication online. I keep up with my far-flung family members and get to see my great-grandchildren grow up online. And the internet brings the world to my small apartment.

I love the internet. The downside, of course, is that we users are left to determine what’s the truth, and what’s fictional garbage.

Just the facts, Ma’am,” as Sgt. Joe Friday used to say on the TV series Dragnet. Instead, we too often have what Hersh calls the two deadliest words in journalism: “I think.”

Bean Pat: To all the media outlets surviving today that still put accuracy ahead of beating the competition – or biased agendas.

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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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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