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Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Looking for Silver Linings

A goose doesn’t lay golden eggs, but it does lay eggs. — Art by Pat Bean

Aging Gracefully

Silver linings happen all the time. I know because I’m always chasing them. For example, my spoiled and rascally, but greatly loved canine companion Scamp recently gave me an unexpected one.

For the past three plus years, ever since I drove 1,000 miles roundtrip to rescue him from a shelter, I’ve had to walk him up and down three flights of stairs four times a day so he could do his business. I called it my fool proof exercise plan.

I loved my third-floor apartment, with its great views that this past year even included great horned owls visiting a Ponderosa pine in close proximity to my front balcony. I never wanted to move.

But after waking up on July 14 with atomic leg pain, which I am still trying to conquer, my granddaughter, her wife and friends, had to walk him, until I moved on Aug. 20 to a ground-level apartment with a small-enclosed area where Scamp was expected to do his business.

But Scamp, whom I had successfully house trained the first three weeks I had him, decided the fenced area, partially cement and partially dirt, was off-limits for doing his business. He stuck to his guns even after my granddaughter walked him around and around in the area on his leash, and even after his own poo was brought into the yard, he simply refused to pee or poo in the area.

Scamp held it until he was at least just outside the gate, and once that was for nearly two days. That stubbornness made him sick and I gave in.

Will that ever change. Probably not friends and family said, pointing out that was because he was as stubborn as his owner. OK. I admit it. I’m not easy and do want my way. But, like Scamp I would like to think I’m lovable.

So, what, you might ask, is the silver lining in this situation. Thankfully, I’m now enough back to normal that I can comfortably walk with a rollator, and Scamp and I have adjusted to walking together using it. So, the silver lining is that I will be walking more. And walking is good for me.

Also, since Scamp is a very social dog who wants to say hi to everyone he sees, I’m rapidly meeting many of my new neighbors. And that’s good because I’m a social person, too. I might also add that friends and family members, when visiting, help with the walking task, and they, too, are silver linings.

As, I said, silver linings aren’t hard to find. Sometimes it’s simply all about attitude.  

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is an avid reader, piddling painter, the author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), is always searching for life’s silver lining, and these days learning to age gracefully.

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Difficult Times

It’s not wise do deny dragons exist when you live near one. — Art by Pat Bean

It’s been exactly a month and two days since I spent most of a day in a hospital emergency room because of atomic leg pain. It seems like a zillion years, because the pain is still coming and going daily.

I’m back to the doctor this Thursday to ask for painkillers, for the first time in my life, and thinking he better give me something strong. I don’t think all these new rules because of people abusing pain-killing drugs should apply to an 83-year-old in pain.

Meanwhile, I’m struggling to end each day by having done at least one thing to give me a sense of accomplishment, a trait that this old broad Type A personality still requires in her life.

When I was younger, the daily goals might be climbing a mountain, writing a story that topped the front page of the newspaper I worked for, or building a small picket fence to finish enclosing the backyard of my new home.

Today’s goals are much simpler. I get pleasure out of writing a long snail letter to a friend, painting a watercolor, cooking a tasty dinner for my granddaughter and her wife, getting together with friends, daily moderating my online writer’s chat group, journaling and reading, posting a new blog, or simply sitting still and watching the sunset as I try and connect the dots in my life.

 All these things, many of which I didn’t have time for when younger, do make my life still very enjoyable and rich. So even though I’m sniveling now, don’t feel sorry for me.  

But since my leg pain began, it’s been a struggle to end my days with that needed sense of accomplishment.

One of the changes forced on me because of my damn leg pain has been a move to a ground-floor apartment because I can no longer continue to walk my canine companion Scamp up and down three flights of stairs four times a day. This has been my fool-proof exercise plan for the past 10 years, and I’ve stubbornly refused to give it up. Now I have no choice.  

Thankfully, I found a nearby place, with trees and an enclosed area for Scamp. This move, which will take place this coming weekend, has prompted me to set a goal of packing up at least two boxes of my belongings every day. Accomplishing this gives me a sense of rightness at the end of the day, even if I haven’t done anything else except play computer games, which keep me from thinking about my leg.

While life isn’t perfect, I’m still committed to ending each day feeling like I’ve accomplished something – and always with gratitude for my family and friends who have been here for me during this difficult time.

I wish every old broad is this world could be as blessed.

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

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A tree and birds. I like that. — Art by Pat Bean

Nothing like a day spent at a hospital emergency room after being woke up at 3 a.m. with crippling leg pain to set you on a path of new beginnings. I swear it was worse than childbirth, and I have five children.

Thankfully, it wasn’t a blood clot, or something else life-threatening. After tests, it turned out to be related to the back pain I’ve been fighting for a few years – just on an atomic bomb level.

It clearly called, however, for a major change in my life, one family members have been pestering me to take for a few years now, a move to a ground-floor apartment. I know I’ve been a stubborn bitch for not heeding their advice, but I loved my apartment, and I wasn’t interested in a change, even if it meant continuing to walk my dog up and down three flights of stairs four or five times a day, not to mention laundry and errand trips.

I’ve been calling it my fool-proof exercise plan. But dang-it, the plan was no longer working.

So, while recovering this week at home, with family and friends taking on my dog-walking duties, I came across a quote by Stephanie Raffelock, which I found in her book, “A Delightful Little Book on Aging.

We should all take a little more time to cry and wail, allowing tears to baptize us into fresh starts,” she wrote.

Well, I certainly did that Friday. I wailed and sniveled practically all day about my horrid, bad, no-good dilemma. Then on the weekend, I begin online searches for a new apartment. It wasn’t looking good, until my granddaughter Shanna and her wife Dawn, remembered a small nearby apartment complex that they had looked at for themselves a few months ago.

Its office was closed until Monday, but with them carefully ushering me down the stairs, we drove by to take a look at the apartment that was for listed to rent on their web site. It was just about 10 minutes away, a location near the top of my priority list because I wanted to stay in Tucson’s Catalina Foothills, which I’ve come to love since moving to Arizona in 2013.

While I still haven’t looked at the inside, I immediately fell in love with the soon-to-be-vacated outside’s large, fenced-in patio that had doors leading to it from both the bedroom and living areas. It would be perfect for simply letting my canine companion Scamp in and out, an amenity that topped my list of must haves, given that I’m 83 and my back pain is likely to recur.

The clincher for me was the huge tree growing in the middle of the patio. You should know that I once bought a house almost solely because I fell in love with its huge backyard tree.

The new neighborhood is older but nice, and the small apartment complex grounds abounded with flowers and greenery. And within minutes I was looking at birds, including nesting doves above the office door. I can already envision a small fountain and bird feeders beneath that patio tree.

All of the above gave me the confidence that I can meld the inside to fit my needs. Age has let me know that no one can ever simply have everything they want, but it looks like I will have all I need for a happy life.

I cinched the deal Monday and will be moving in around the middle of August. I’m so excited about this new beginning that I’m not even thinking about all the tasks involved in a move. Not yet anyway.

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

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Mishaps on the Road

Texas Canyon Rest Stop — Which I passed twice last Wednesday. — Photo by Pat Bean

I left Tucson – for the first time — right around 7 a.m. last Wednesday. It felt joyous to be on the road after too many months of covid-enforced hibernation. The morning was cool and breezy and the roadway was lined with tall-stemmed blooming agaves. I drank in every sight with delight.

I made it to the Texas Canyon Rest Stop before I realized that while I had remembered to pack my camera, binoculars, spare glasses, and all the other important accoutrements needed for my trip to Texas, I had forgotten my purse.

I said the S-word out loud, three times with vigor, and then became thankful I still had enough gas to make it back home.

A U-Turn, and 144 miles later, I left Tucson – for the second time — around 10 a.m. this time, and driving just a little faster to make up for lost time, but still not thinking yet about how often in my life mishaps came in threes.

I wouldn’t start thinking about that until I ran into another stumbling block just as I was about to drive through El Paso. A blinding dust storm and I hit the Texas border city at the same time. The dust interfered with my vision, while the wind tried to yank the wheel of the car from my hands, and as I gripped the wheel tightly, I watched large semis weaving from side to side. Traffic slowed to a crawl.

On past drives through El Paso, I usually cleared the city limits in half an hour. This day it took me over an hour, and I still had 120 miles to go to get to Van Horn where I had motel reservations for my canine companion Scamp and I.

Once past El Paso, the wind waned, traffic lightened, and then the third mishap struck. Out of nowhere, or so it seemed, it started raining, which then increased in intensity until I couldn’t see the road ahead of me. I finally managed to pull off to the side of the road, as thankfully the cars ahead and behind me were able to do the same.  

This mishap had been a bit scary, but since it was the third one of the day, I hoped it would be the last.

And it was. And I arrived at the end of my day’s journey before dark, an important detail to an old broad on the road whose night vision went on strike a few years ago. I was exhausted, but actually pleased with myself for surviving the day – and still eager to get back on the road for the rest of my trip.

You never know what’s going to happen when you’re on the road – and that’s one of the things I like best about traveling.

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

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Great Horned Owl

“Getting up too early is a vice habitual in horned owls, stars, geese and freight trains,” said Aldo Leopold.

I could easily be added to that list. For most of my working career, I reported to the office no later than 6:30 a.m. – and I wasn’t beloved for doing so. 

There would usually be one or two other reporters who had come in early to meet their early-morning deadline for a story they had covered the night before. They would be sitting in the dark in front of their computers.

As a light-loving, morning person, I would turn on the lights and utter a cheery “Good morning!” All I usually got back was a snarl or a groan.

Scamp, my current canine companion, insists on a walk at the first sign of dawn, often when stars are still visible. He usually wakes up even before I do, but this morning the tables were turned. I had taken him for a later-than-usual last walk yesterday, and he was still snoring away when I awoke at 5:55 a.m.

I let him sleep until 6:10, when I couldn’t stand it anymore and roused him for our morning walk. We came back and he promptly went back to sleep while I enjoyed drinking my cream-laced coffee and watching the birds from my third-floor balcony. There were sparrows, mourning doves, hummingbirds and house finches, but no geese.

As for trains, when I was traveling across the country in my RV, I often heard a train somewhere nearby blow its whistle right around 6 a.m. I wondered if it was just coincidence or if all train engineers had a pact to took their horns at daybreak.

Then there are the great horned owls. We have resident ones who yearly raise chicks here in the apartment complex. I often hear them hooting in the early mornings, and sometimes I even see them zooming overhead between tall Ponderosa pines and the red-tile rooftops. Their silent, broad-winged flight always leave me awed.

Yesterday, a great horned owl was sitting on a large tree stump near my path. I’m pretty sure it was a juvenile because of how close it let me come. After spotting it, I took Scamp back to the apartment and grabbed my camera.

With each snap, I got closer to the owl until I was only about 10 feet away. The bird didn’t move, just stared straight at me with golden yellow eyes. I snapped a few more shots before retreating so as not to disturb the owl more.

I was excited about the photos I had taken, but later I discovered the memory card in my camera had been missing. It was still in my computer from the last time I had downloaded my photos.

I guess my brain, if not my body, decided it wanted to sleep in.

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

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Enjoy Today: It’s a Gift

Some of the best trails end at waterfalls, like this one in Idaho. – Photo by Pat Bean

“Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today’s a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” These words from Bil Keane, a cartoonist best known for his The Family Circus strip, had special meaning for me this morning when I reread words from a decade-old journal.

  At this time, I was still exploring this country, mostly on backroads, in the small RV in which I lived and traveled for nine years.

On November 10, 2010, I listed 100 things I was thankful for. On seeing this list again, I saw that some of those things, when I was 71, were not applicable to the 83-year-old I will be in just a few days.

 On the upside, I’m still thankful for belly laughs, good cream-laced coffee, being a writer, my zest for life and hot baths – and thankful for my family, which has grown by four great-grandchildren the past 12 years.

 But I still miss my canine companion Maggie, a mischievous cocker spaniel who spent eight years on the road with me, and my nature hikes, which have been curtailed by a bad back.

   While Maggie has been replaced by a spoiled Siberian husky/shih tzu-mix canine companion, whose name of Scamp perfectly fits him, my trail days have been replaced with short walks around my apartment complex with the Scamp. Some days I can comfortably walk an eighth of a mile, and on other days much less.

  While there are many blessings that have come with my years, including the gift of time to ponder as well as write, actually liking myself, and learning to slow down and really see Mother Nature’s wonders, I mourn my lost hiking ability.

 Thankfully, I seldom let an opportunity to go on a hike pass me by when I was younger. And thankfully I can still drive back roads and park in scenic spots where I can bird watch at a trailhead. In my younger days, one of my older birding colleagues did just that – and often saw more birds than those of us who took the trail.  

But take it from this old broad. If there is something you love to do, make sure you do it while you can. It makes it easier to continue being thankful for what you still have, and more able to see what you gain from the passing years.

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

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The Possum Monument in Wausau, Florida, the Possum Capital of the world.

Quite Tasty

These days I often scratch the itch of my wanderlust soul from the comfort of my living room recliner, but it’s large enough so that my canine companion Scamp — who thinks 45 pounds is the perfect size to be a lap dog — can curl up with me.

 From this seat, books and the internet take me all over the world. This morning it was to Wausau, Florida, a small town of only 400 where possums supposedly outnumber humans, and which is home to the Possum Monument.

Erected in 1982, the monument’s inscription reads: “…in grateful recognition of the role the North American possum — to be technical correct possums only live in Australia, America has the opossum — played in furnishing both food and fur for early settlers and their successors.

 Possums were also a great source of protein for residents during the Great Depression, the article said.

On reading that, I remembered the time in the early 1940s when my dad went hunting and brought home a possum for dinner. My grandmother cooked it with sweet potatoes, and as I recall the meal was pretty tasty.

If you want to taste for yourself, you should visit Wausau on the first Saturday in August, which is the day the Florida Legislature designated as Florida Possum Day when possum and sweet potatoes will be on the menu.

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

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Blue-footed boobies like to show off their brightly colored feet. And they do so in a Hokey-Pokey kind of way. I got to dance with one. — Wikimedia photo

If I listed all the things I still want to do in life, I would have to reach the ripe old age of 699 – at least. Besides, I’m not sure I would want to do that. My wrinkles already have wrinkles, and knowing that I only have limited time left on this planet energizes me.

I’m thankful that I’ve crossed off quite a few priority items on my bucket list, like taking an African Safari, rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, sky diving, getting a tattoo, exploring this country in an RV with only a canine companion and meeting Maya Angelou.

Well, actually meeting Maya was never on my Bucket List. It just happened because I was at the right place at the right time – a reporter in a city Maya visited.

The truth is many of the best things in my life have not been on any bucket list. I treasure the time I danced with a blue-footed booby in the Galapagos. I was hiking with an Audubon group and was alone in the lead when I came across the dancing booby. I knew I was invited to join him by the look in his eyes.

Now how do you put something like that on a bucket list?

Realistically, I know I’m not going to see or do most of the remaining things on my bucket list – like revisiting the calm serenity of Lake Moraine in Canada.

Instead of whining about it, or perhaps after whining about it I should say, I’ve started a non-bucket list of simple joys, like sitting with a friend on my third-floor balcony and watching Tucson’s spectacular sunset.

If I look hard enough, I can find something that would never make a bucket list quite often.

I’ve always wanted a canine companion, but how could I know that I would get the one dog I needed to bring balance to my life.

The whimsies of nature are also surprising and delightful. One of my best moments was watching an osprey catch a fish only to have it snatched by a bald eagle. Now who would have thought to put that on a bucket list?

Yup. I think I’m retiring the bucket list for the non-bucket list, which is more doable for old broads like me.

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

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   Joy is watching cacti flowers bloom in the Sonoran Desert. – Photo by Pat Bean

  A few years back I started listing things that bring me joy, then the list got put away and forgotten. I came across the notes this morning, however, and thought I would share some of the things I wrote down back then.

 Joy is getting up in the morning and putting on Helen Reddy’s I am Woman, Hear Me Roar, and loudly and off key, singing along with her. It gives my day an extra boost.  

Joy is watching a sunset from my third-floor balcony window as it goes from a pale glimmer into an explosion of oranges, reds and purples. It’s also watching a sunrise out my back window while still in bed. It’s a paler version of the evening show, starting with a golden glow that then turns the sky briefly pink.  

Joy is books and magazines that take me to faraway places, engage my brain and teach me something new every day.

Joy is having a 14-year-old grandson cheerfully carry a large load of groceries up to my third-floor apartment, then baking his favorite lemon cupcakes for him in return. That was seven years ago. Today I have my groceries delivered, so Joy is the smiling delivery person because I tip adequately.  

Joy is my Spirit Players group that reads a play once a month, such as Alice in Wonderland in which I got to read the part of the White Rabbit. Just for the record, joy is not Covid, which halted this and several other activities in my life.

Joy is a hot bath in a deep tub hot enough to turn the skin pink and send warmth and ease all the way down to my bones

Joy is solving and fixing a computer glitch all by myself — after an unsuccessful hour on the phone with a computer expert.

Joy is watching a sliver of moon shining down like the Cheshire Cat on me and my canine companion as we take our O-dark-hundred first walk of the day.

Joy is sitting in a rocking chair or on a couch and holding one of my recently-born great-grandchildren. I’ve gotten to do this with six of my seven. Dang covid kept me away from the last, who lives in Florida.

And finally, Joy is the sights and sounds of nature that even an old broad can enjoy without going far from home. Joy is all around. We just have to look.

May you all have a joyful day.

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

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Now who in their right mind wants to be found when they are exploring this beautiful country we live in. Photo of my parked RV taken by me while exploring the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in 2010 with my canine companion Maggie.

Or Else Its User is Dumb

I missed two zoom meetings recently, and didn’t notice I hadn’t received my normal 2 p.m. phone call from a son until about 6 p.m. – which had him calling my granddaughter to make sure I was OK.  And this is not the first occasion that I’ve let time run away from me.

My phone, which I also use as an alarm clock to remind me of things like zoom meetings, and when to take my clothes out of the washer and put them into the dryer, and for timing my writing, was out of order. But I didn’t discover that until I tried to call my son. Instead of ringing through, a message came up saying the device had no Sim card, and then said I should update the phone and reboot it. I did, and I, miraculously, had phone service again.

This is the second time in a month it’s done this to me. Did I mention that I actually hate smart phones. They’re not so smart, or else they have a dummy for a user. I’ll let you decide which.

I used a simple flip phone almost forever. I even went back to one when I retired from the traveling life. My son had bought me a smart phone when I was traveling because he wanted to know where I was at all times. I’m blessed that he loves me, but when you spend most of your life coming and going as one pleases, being tracked takes some getting used to. It also irks me that my children suddenly think I’m old and can’t take care of myself.

Meanwhile, what everyone else is doing on their phones today, I continue to do on my computer. The screen is larger and easier on old eyes, and I know how to use it, something I can never get the hang of with smart phones.

My children jumped at getting cell phones when they first came out, even when they were as large as breadboxes. I didn’t get my first cell phone until my work finally demanded it, and paid for it.

 Maybe I that’s why I kind of think of cell phones like a kind of ball and chain. I didn’t always want to be found. 

I don’t carry one in my pocket when I walk my dog, which my son says I should do. And I often forget to take it with me when I run errands. I’m trying to change that because I realized that if my car broke down, I haven’t memorized any phone numbers but my own — because they’re all stored in the $#&*@ smart phone.

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

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