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Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

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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Living Alone, Well Almost

Scamp on my bed waiting for me to get dressed to take him on his morning walk.

Does a Dog Count?

The number of people living alone is increasing, up noticeably since 1990, I recently read.

 Not surprising to me, as it’s how many of my friends live. I’ve now spent exactly half of my 82 years living alone. And I love it. While I have married friends who are quite happy sharing living quarters, I also have married friends who envy my lifestyle.

Looking back, I now think I’ve aways wanted to live alone. It’s amazing what you discover about yourself as you grow older, like why I sabotaged my own search for a true soul mate after I divorced the man I had married when I was just 16. He certainly hadn’t been that soul mate my heart so desired.

But wanting to live alone doesn’t mean that I don’t want people in my life. As Barbara Streisand said, and I believe: “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”

Perhaps it’s selfish, but I want to eat when I want to eat, go to bed when I want too, whether it’s 7 p.m. or 2 a.m., and be alone when I want to be alone.

One realization that I’ve always felt this way came to me when I realized that in my visualization of a lifetime dream of traveling this country full-time – which I did for nine years in a small RV – no other person was ever with me.

Well, I did have Maggie during my travels. And now I have Scamp as a canine companion. Maybe technically, I don’t live alone. And while I can go to bed anytime I want, Scamp demands that I wake up with the sun to take him for a walk.

Instead of being grumpy about this, I realize he’s my balance to a better life. I need to get up, and I need to keep moving.  

The truth is, each of us, has to find what works for themselves. There’s no one right way.  I feel blessed because I have found what works for 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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Happy holidays to all.

          It’s that time of year again. The time when I start thinking about resolutions for the New Year – even though I’ll probably break them before the first week of January has passed.

          The past two years, 2020 and 2021, haven’t been particularly great years for me because of Covid, but then that’s true for just about everybody. And being retired, 82 and with a small but adequate fixed income, I’ve fared far better than most. So, I’ll quit my whining and look for the silver linings.

          That’s harder this morning because the virus reared its ugly head and stared me straight in the face. My granddaughter and I had planned a road trip to Whitewater Draw two hours outside of Tucson to watch sandhill cranes. That was canceled because my granddaughter was with a friend who had been exposed to the virus. Since she loves me, she canceled our outing.

          Sh-ee-t! (I was raised in the South so this is how my favorite consternation word comes out sounding) I’ll be eating the picnic lunch that I had already prepared for the trip by myself today. Of course, there’s a silver lining with that. I won’t have to cook.

          Meanwhile, I love my own company and sharing that solitude with my canine companion Scamp – so I never feel lonely. That’s two more silver linings right there.

          But as a mother and working woman who once never had a moment to spare, I have now become the sole CEO of my own life. And while at my age, one has learned to let a lot of things go, I still want to make my days meaningful. Time, which passes so silently – and quickly – is very precious to me.

          That’s why I’ll be spending the next few days making a list of my New Year’s resolutions. I want to write more, learn more and be more. But I especially want to spread a message of kindness, which I believe the world is sadly in need of these days.

          Will you help?

          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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I can’t count the number of Lassie books, movies and TV programs that have left me in tears. How many of you young oldsters remember this photo? And who the young boy is? And did you know that Lassie was usually portrayed by a male dog.

A Good Old Girls’ Club in the Making

I haven’t seen a movie or television show that has left me crying in at least a couple of years. Now, you should know, when I make this statement, that I have cried a water tank full of tears over the years, beginning with books like Lassie, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Black Beauty to a couple of Marvel movies.

Surprise of all surprises, the crying jag was restarted with Wednesday’s night’s episode of The Challenge All Stars, Season 2.

Now I know that people consider this peace-loving 82-year-old a bit strange — for someone who doesn’t like conflict, nastiness and mean people – because I’m a fan of both Survivor and The Challenge, whose weekly episodes usually display all of these traits.

I excuse myself because the participants are all playing a game, like Poker, in which dirty tricks, lying and outwitting your competitors are all allowed –Actual hitting gets you expelled from the game. I love the outdoor adventures and competitions. And amazingly, I also find memorable minutes of good sportsmanship and of finding some good in even the meanest people.

I’ve watched every episode, so far, of Survivor. I came late to The Challenge, but have watched as many episodes as have been screened.

So, what, you might ask, made me cry in The Challenge. It came at the end of a combined puzzle and weight-pulling competition, where one of the two female competitors simply wasn’t strong enough to do the weight-pulling, The other woman, by the way, outdid even the two men who competed in the same competition earlier, which, of course, thrilled me.

When the female winner finished, she went over to her competitor, and said “Come on, we’ve got this.” She then helped her pull her weight to the finish line so the woman could finish strong. It was one of the best female support actions I’ve ever seen. Even some of the bystander competitors even had tears in their eyes. (Just to note, I have seen men support their losing competitors in similar ways many times.)

But both these two women are mothers – and not so young anymore. The All-Stars episodes brought back players from 15 or more years ago. I found it very inspiring to see women staying active and supportive of their gender. Perhaps it’s the start of a good old girls’ club to compete with the good old boys’ clubs that have been going strong for way too long.

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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