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Archive for the ‘Journeys’ Category

Updating My Profile

Scanp, right, and his best pal Dusty. — Photo by Pat Bean

          “The good news about computers is that they do what you tell them to do. The bad news is that they do what you tell them to do.” – Ted Nelson

It’s All About the Buttons

          I have been a computer user since 1978, forced, as a reporter, to write my newspaper stories on one. Less than 10 years later, I bought my first home computer, one that operated on floppy disks because it didn’t even have a hard drive.

          My first word processing system involved a black screen with green text. I became determined not to be left stalled on the “information highway,” and forced myself to learn all about DOS, an acronym for Disk Operating System. I was, so to speak, hep, an old-fashioned term for groovy, with-it, trendy, hip, and up-to-date.

          But things changed overnight – and I never caught up. I bought myself updated computers over the years, but depended on the tech guys at my work to simply tell me what buttons to push to make the dang machines do what I wanted them to do.

Then along came smart phones. By this time, I was a retired old broad without tech experts at my beck and call. While I was on the road traveling the country in my RV, one of my sons bought me my first smart phone because it tracked my location – which he wanted to know at all times. He spent good money on that phone but all the time my brain was thinking: Dang caring, loving son!

I hated that phone, and never learned to use it for anything but calling and texting. And I went back to my old flip phone when I ended my life on the road in 2013, using the excuse that the cost of service was cheaper – which was actually true.

Most of the stuff others did on their phones, I did on my computer, whose bigger screen works better for older eyes, and whose eccentricities I was able to eventually figure out – despite the convoluted, operating explanations provided for users by people who clearly didn’t know how to go from A to B without inserting Gs and Zs between the two.

But the smart phones with their apps, I finally began realizing at this late date, were being used for things my stay-at-home lap top couldn’t do, like gain entrance to movies, serve as maps, and act as coupons at grocery stores, just to name three simple ones.

Without my tech guys, I’m not sure I will ever learn how to do all of them. But I’m proud to say that last night, I did finally learn how to use my new phone — finally a smart one — to take a picture of my canine companion Scamp and then send it to my granddaughter, who was sitting across from me, and who had shown me which buttons to push to do so.

Time to update my profile, I think.  

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Too Many to Count

If you saw a Bald Eagle when it was only two years old, you would see a ratty-looing bird with no white head. It takes these birds of prey four years to gain their magnificence. If all goes as expected, it takes many more years for humans to become their best selves, I believe. — Sketch by Pat Bean

What am I now that I was then is a line from Delmore Schwartz’s poem, “Calmly We Now Walk Through This April’s Day.”  The words sent my brain working overtime to answer the question.

I am not the same person I was over half a life ago, so much so I tell friends today they wouldn’t have liked me back then, when I was insecure, took things too personally, tried too hard to please everyone, cried too much, was searching for love while ignoring the love I had all around me, and thought of myself as two Pat Beans, one dull and following all the rules while the second one was learning to color outside the lines.

When I did the latter, I would say to myself, often aloud, Pat Bean doesn’t do that. It took a 16-day rafting trip, when I was in my 50s, on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon where nothing that was important in the outside world mattered, for the two Pat Beans to merge.

The one Pat Bean that stepped off the raft at the end of the adventure was both a stronger and a weaker person. She, at least I like to think, was a more likeable person because she was comfortable with her faults, didn’t have to prove she was perfect, and finally bold enough to accept and use her strengths.

But even that Pat Bean is not the same today, or even the day after. It seems each action, each book read, each new thought, each new experience, whether good or bad, changes me. I think that’s how life is supposed to be.

What do you think?

Bean Pat: You can read or listen to Delmore Schwartz’s poem here. https://www.poetryoutloud.org/poem/calmly-we-walk-through-this-aprils-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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One of the best ways to jog my memory is to reread my journals,, which sometimes include sketches, like the one above about the day I watched a ruby-crowned kinglet.

          “Memory is the way we keep telling ourselves our stories – and telling others a somewhat different version of our stories.” – Alice Munro

          While reading Mustard’s Last Stand, by Kathy McIntosh, I came across a fictional character who popped a rubber band around his wrist because he had a negative thought.

          The action took me back over 40 years, back to when I dated a guy who frequently popped a rubber band that he wore around his wrist. Why? I had asked. He had been evasive.

         His name was Jon, and he was a very nice guy, a reporter at the Fort Worth Star Telegram where I worked for a couple of years. But we dated only a couple of times, and never became more than just good friends. He went back to an old girlfriend whom he was still carrying a torch for, and I moved 1,500 miles away.

          If I hadn’t come across that rubber band passage, I might never have thought of Jon again. The passage also answered my unanswered question about why someone would purposely give themselves a jolt of pain, as I imagine a rubber band does when snapped against skin.

          I wondered if Jon had snapped the rubber band every time he thought about his old girlfriend? And then I wondered if people still wear rubber bands around their wrists to break a habit?

I wonder a lot.

          Meanwhile, at 81, when I have forgotten more than I can remember, I’m glad when my little gray cells are jogged. It’s almost always fun.

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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Dang Pack Rats

I love that I can see Gambel Quail around my apartment complex. Too bad, however, that Pack Rats are also my neighbors. — Photo by Pat Bean.

Living in Covid Time 

          “Fate is not an eagle. It creeps like a rat.” – Elizabeth Bowen

I just spent $592 on car repairs because I live in the Sonoran Desert, home to Pack Rats that used my vehicle’s engine wires and parts as chew toys

Dang-nab-it!

That’s a lot more costly than when my newly acquired canine companion, Scamp, chewed up 13 rolls of toilet paper during his first couple of months in his new home last year.

Dang Pack Rat! — Wikimedia photo

But it’s not my first run in with Pack Rats. The first time I learned about these ratty critters was shortly after I took to the RV-ing life. After spending a week camped in Yellowstone National Park, I noticed my engine-problem light had come on. When I took the RV in to be checked out, the mechanic discovered a Pack Rat nest under the hood.

Fortunately, the only damage that time was a loose wire.

My next encounter with these came after I bought my current car in 2014, and left my RV parked at my daughter’s home near a wild desert landscape. Since it sat there for quite a while before the Pack Rat invaders were discovered, the damage was even more costly than my recent repair bill.

Pack Rats have to chew constantly to keep their teeth, which continually grow, to a manageable length. And since many new cars have soy-based wiring, the rats have learned they can chew and enjoy a snack at the same time.

Although I live in a large, well-lighted apartment complex, it is located next to an undeveloped landscape that is probably full of Pack Rats. And since I have been isolating myself because of the coronavirus, I have rarely been driving my vehicle, and those dang Pack Rats saw an opportunity they couldn’t resist.

Strobe lights beneath a vehicle are about the only remedy that works against the Pack Rats, although some have suggested that the rats don’t like the scent of Irish Spring soap. I tried that remedy when the danged critters were first discovered under the hood of my RV parked at my daughter’s home. I think the rats used it as just another chew toy.

Danged-nab-it.

I guess I’m just going to have to at least drive my car around the block every day – or take it and Scamp for a scenic drive somewhere in the Pack Rat’s Sonoran Desert home. Actually, I like that last idea.

Bean Pat: To kind, caring and loving people all over the world who, I optimistically believe, make up the majority of earth’s population

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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Gloria Steinem, still speaking out for equal rights for all. — Wikimedia photo

“At my age … people often ask me if I’m passing the torch. I explain that I’m keeping my torch, thank you very much, and I’m using it to light the torches of others.” — Gloria Steinem

The Times Are a Changin

Gloria Steinem was a magazine journalist, just five years older than me, who was at the forefront of the fight for civil rights and women’s equality at the same time I was a working mother who was a newspaper reporter. She is now 86 to my 81 and she still has fire in her.

This magnet hangs on my refrigerator to remind me there is still life to be lived.

In a recent NY Times interview, Gloria said, “The progress we’ve made is not sufficient, but there is an advantage to being old. I have a role to play in the movement by saying, ‘Here’s when it was worse.”

I, too, remember when it was worse. I had a boss who told me I was the hardest worker in the office. Then I discovered that the guys in the office were making three times my meager salary. When I asked my boss’s boss, who controlled the purse strings, for a raise, he said it was hard for him to consider giving me a raise when all the men in the office had families to support.

I pointed out that all the men in my office currently had working wives, and that I was putting my then husband through college and was the sole support of him and my five children. “Oh,” was all he said. I got my raise. Such a situation hadn’t even occurred to him.

When Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Magazine was published for the first time in 1972, it was the same time I was fighting for equal pay for equal work.

Also, while I wasn’t raised to be a bigot, and Blacks were never disparaged in our home, I was indoctrinated by the teaching “separate but equal.” I heard the phrase often, and saw evidence of it growing up in the 1940s and ‘50s, with White and Black Only water fountain and restroom signs being the most common.

It wasn’t until I saw beyond what I had been taught growing up, while covering school integration issues as a reporter, that I quickly discovered how unequal things truly were. Reading books about the issues gave me even more insight.

Being a journalist reporting on the true facts, let me feel I was doing something positive to change things for the better. It gave me a false hope that true equality would actually happen. Maybe it will but it hasn’t yet.

Meanwhile, being retired and an old broad has made me feel helpless that there was nothing more I could do to make the world a kinder, fairer, better place in which to live. But reading that my elder journalist sister Gloria is still out there promoting equal right issues for all, made me rethink my plight.

I can still speak out against injustices. I can write letters promoting fairness and kindness. I can publicly support Black Lives Matter. Yes, all lives do matter but that is not the issue), And I can vote for people who give a damn about all America’s people.

Thank you, Gloria, for relighting my fire.

Bean Pat: To old broads everywhere who still have fire in them and who try to make the world a better place for all.

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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Joy is taking pleasure in little things, especially in nature. — Photo by Pat Bean

Political foolery, political bullying, political lying, political egotism, political shenanigans and political partisanship favored over what’s in the best interest of this country make me want to scream. And scream, and scream! I feel this way partly because I feel helpless to change things for the better.

Joy is my canine companion Scamp. — Photo by Pat Bean

What this country needs is a political party that’s not so far right, and not so far left, and is devoted to truth and facts. I would call it the Common Sense Party. All in favor, please stand up and say AYE!

I’m assuming the idea passed, so now all someone has to do is create it.

Meanwhile, since I need to stay sane during these chaotic times, I’ve started a list of things that give me joy. I try to put something on it daily. Here are a few recent joys from my list.

Joy is my third-floor balconies that look out on the Catalina Mountains, proving me a daily show of their changing moods

Joy is the almost daily phone call from one of my sons who tries to keep up with his old-broad mom, and the daily email chat I have with a daughter-in-law who has taken on the responsibility of being my guardian angel.

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 a call from a 10-year-old grandson who is reading the Dr. Doolittle books I so loved as a child, and who is loving them, too.

Joy is me getting to hold my great-granddaughter Cora. — Photo by T.C. Ornelas

Joy is getting a snail-mail letter from a friend, or from one of my grandchildren.

Joy is playing a competitive game of Frustration with my oldest granddaughter and her wife, and cussing and laughing a lot as we play.

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

          Joy is my dog Scamp, who is my companion, bedmate and exercise trainer. Having to walk him up and down three flights of stairs daily has become my foolproof exercise plan.

Joy is listening to the gurgling sound of coffee brewing, and smelling its toasty aroma while it is still dark outside.

Joy is sitting my butt in a chair and writing – or reading.

Bean Pat: Watching birds is one of the things that always give me joy, like watching these West Texas humming bird feeders on one of Cornell University’s live bird cams. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/west-texas-hummingbirds/

Available on Amazon.

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

 

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A two-week safari in Africa was certainly a mile-marker in my life. Here I’m standing at an overlook of the Ngorongoro Crater in front of a sign with mile markers to various cities around the world. — Photo by Kim Perrin

My Story Circle’s writing prompt this month was to write about life’s mile markers. I chose to create a 10 point list of people who helped get me through some of those times.  Here’s my list – which easily could have been much longer.

1: My grandmother. During my early years, the only person I was for sure loved me was my grandmother. Our dysfunctional family lived with her. She was not a sweet granny, although she cooked like one, but a woman with strong opinions and standards that she expected to be met – and she favored a supple switch to the back of the legs if they weren’t.  But I could outrun her and she had a quick-to-forgive nature. Sadly, she died when I was 11.

2: My mother, although I wouldn’t realize or accept it until I was in my mid-30s. She, too, was a strong woman, one who took what life allowed her before equal rights was even considered. She loved her four children but was not vocal about it, or a hugger. She was the rock that made sure the family had food on the table and a bed under a roof to sleep in at night. She was not a complainer but a doer.

3: A cadre of “village” women – Dorothy, Louise, Jeri – who took a too-young woman with five children under their wings and supported her until she could get her own feet on the ground.

Kim and I shared Africa together, and here is a photo of us after a very long, but wonderful, day of bouncing in the back of a Land Rover over the Serengeti.

4: Roberta, the city editor who pushed a wanna-be writer and would-be reporter over and over again to the crying point, teaching her how to become a professional and ethical journalist who would go on to have a successful 37-year award-winning career in the newspaper industry.

5: David, a gay man and my reporter colleague at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, who supported me during the hardest two years of my personal life, which included divorce and family failures.

6: Cliff Cheney, a managing editor who believed in my journalism potential. He hired me for a very difficult job, and when I whined after undertaking it, and asked him why he had done this to me, he sat back, put his feet on his desk, and said: “Because I knew you could handle it Pat.” He died in a car accident that very night, but his words empowered me for rest of my career.

7: My friend Kim, who has been in my life for 40 years now. We fill each other’s holes because we are two very different people. We have worked together, played together, celebrated birthdays together, hiked together, argued together, traveled together, gotten lost together, and these days Zoom together because we now live in two different states. My life is richer because Kim is part of it.

A recent Facebook picture of my friend Jean, who is a teacher and having her own mile-marker moments of learning to teach online. She makes me smile and laugh.

8: All the wonderful, talented women in Story Circle Network who helped me find my personal, non-journalistic voice after I retired.  Without the support of this group, my book Travels with Maggie would never have been published.  This group also keeps me daily in touch with like-minded, caring intelligent women who encourage this old broad to keep writing.

9: My friend Jean, who like Kim is as different from me as night and day. It is the best kind of friend to have because it ensures that life is never boring. Jean is part of my daily life here in Tucson, the kind of friend this old broad needs to stay on her toes. Jean challenges me to continue thinking outside my comfortable box, brings the world into my apartment where I’ve tended to get too comfortable, and makes me laugh. She’s my Happy Hour a couple of times a week, and the person my kids call when I go missing for more than a few hours.

10: Last, but certainly not least, is my family. I have five children and their families, 15 grandchildren and their families, and seven great-grandchildren. I have a different relationship with each, am closer to some than others, but all have a place in my heart. I regularly learn from them. They fuel my life and make it feel meaningful.

 

 

 

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Scott’s Oriole — Wikimedia photo

A Colorful Walk

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

Walking my canine companion Scamp early every morning is both a chore and a pleasure. Living in a third-floor apartment with no yard means it’s something that must be daily done – and at the first glimpse of dawn when I’m awakened by a dog sticking his cold nose in my face. If that doesn’t work, Scamp drapes his 40-pound body on top of mine and begins to whine.

You can read more about Maggie and her adventures with her mistress in Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

I have no choice but to get up, throw on some clothes and get his leash. Every morning I do this, I think of my former dog Maggie. She, as anyone who knew her would tell you, was a spoiled brat, but she liked to sleep in and so I got to wake up at my leisure not hers.

But by the time Scamp and I are going down the stairs, often with the moon still visible in the morning sky, the pleasure of being out and about so early, with rarely another soul in sight, takes hold of me.

After Scamp waters a tree, he begins a slow exploratory stop-and-go trot to the dog park where he likes to do his more serious business. We live at the top of the apartment complex and it’s at the bottom, leaving me with plenty of time to observe the sights around me.

The first thing that caught my attention this morning were eight white-winged doves sitting on a utility line. Mostly all I could see were dark profiles, emphasizing their individual shapes. Six looked exactly alike while one appeared skinnier and one fatter, the latter with a tail a bit longer than the others. Seven of the doves were facing away from me, but the one at the farthest edge faced toward me. I wondered what they were all thinking.

As we turned a corner, my eye was then caught by three large round bushes that were covered in bright purple flowers. The bushes had been trimmed a few days earlier by the apartment’s gardeners, and it seemed to me as if they had simply bloomed overnight. Or had I simply not seen them the day before?

The color purple always stops me for a better look when I see it in nature. Pictured here is a Rose of Sharon blossom.

Finally, Scamp — whom I let lead during his morning walks because once the day warms his walks are quick and short because this old broad doesn’t do well in the heat – headed back to our apartment for his breakfast. My own mind at this point was focused on the cup of cream-laced coffee that awaited me.

But as we began walking up the stairs, I got distracted by some movement in a nearby tree. I stopped to look more closely and was rewarded with a flash of yellow and black before a bird flew directly in front of me. It was a Scott’s oriole. While common in Southeast Arizona, one doesn’t see this oriole species often. As an avid birder I was thrilled at the sight – and immediately forgave Scamp for waking me so early.

Bean Pat: As one who wants to identify all the plants I see on my walks, I love this blog. Perhaps you will, too. https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/

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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This display of metal flowers reminded me of the colors of my tye-dye T-shirts, which I wore during the 1960s — and still wear today. — Photo by Pat Bean

I was walking my canine companion Scamp through my apartment complex parking lot this morning when a bumper sticker caught my eye – and sent my mind reeling back to the 1960s.

Make Love Not War, it read.

I watched those hippy-flowerchild years from the sidelines, changing diapers the first half of the decade, and being a naïve reporter thrown into the midst of the Vietnam War protests the last three years.

Having three young sons, whom I never wanted to have to go to war, I thought the slogan was a good one.

A sign for the 1960s is still pertinent today.

The ‘60s also marked the beginning of the battle to approve the Equal Rights Amendment. As a working woman earning less than my male colleagues, I also thought it was a good idea. Not all women back then did, however, and one asked me: “Do you want your daughter to go to war?”

“Of course not,” I replied. “But then I don’t want my sons to go to war either.”

It’s been over half a century since I first heard those four words,  “Make Love Not War.” Three of my five children joined the military. One son spent 10 years in the Army, one daughter spent 10 years in the Navy, and one son make the Army his career, serving over 35 years for this country.

I’m proud of them – but sad that war is still ongoing on this planet. And probably always will be according a book I recently read: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.

Still, that Make Love Not War bumper sticker comforted me this morning, letting me know I wasn’t aloe in wanting everyone to just get along. It also set my brain to recalling the words to a song written in 1955 for the International Children’s Choir. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…

At this point, Scamp noticed a mourning dove on the ground and attempted to give chase, forcing me to pull back hard on his leash. The action forced my brain back to my present surroundings, where the sun was just coming up, birds were chittering, a slight breeze was blowing through my hair – and someone had dropped a coronavirus protective mask on the ground by their car.

As Forest Gump’s mom said: Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

    Bean Pat: Take a break from coronavirus news and look for moose on Michigan’s Isle Royale. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/27/travel/moose-michigan-isle-royale.html?campaign.

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 think this image of three dragonflies is quite representative of my brain last night. It was flitting all over the place. — Art by Pat Bean

“The community which has neither poverty or riches will always have the noblest principle.” – Plato

Morning Rant

Ever have one of those nights when your brain gets stuck on an endless circular track and you can’t stop its roar? I had one of those last night. It started with me thinking about the coronavirus and news stories about attempts to hack the vaccine studies.

The thinking is that a successful vaccine will be worth billions of dollars to its creators, so every little forward movement toward the goal is carefully hoarded and guarded. Perhaps, my little gray cells started calculating, if all that information were shared a vaccine might already have been discovered.

I call this little piece of art peaceful night. Mine wasn’t last night. — Art by Pat Bean

After being on that track for a while, my brain switched to the news story of Jeff Bezos making billions of dollars in one day, which had me thinking about all the hard-working people in this country who somehow exist on lean paychecks.

I’ve done that all my life – and am actually proud of it. I’ve always had enough food to eat, a roof over my head, and enough clothes to wear, even if the food was mostly basic, the roof not gigantic, and sometimes the clothes came from a thrift shop.

These days I feel rich because I can afford to buy books when I want them, although I admit I would do a bit more traveling if my pocketbook was heavier.

But how can one spend billions of dollars on themselves, I ask? As I look around at the richest of the rich, it seems they buy things more to show they are rich than anything else. I don’t deny them their extras and luxuries, but when is too much actually too much?

On the other hand, I’m not a bleeding-heart liberal. I don’t believe able-bodied people should be given handouts, but should have to work for their livelihoods. A welfare check needs to come with a job. Such a program worked once – Civilian Conservation Corps – and I believe it can again. Child care, teacher’s aides, road maintenance, litter clean-up, elderly companions, just to name a few currently being paid for with tax dollars.

But I also believe that the people at the top, whose riches depend on work done by employees, should start handing out huge raises to loyal employees. It seems only fair that the wealth be shared. Thus, went my brain last night. It finally ended up right back where it started. If researchers and drug companies shared their findings, actually caring more about ending the suffering then for themselves, would we already have a working vaccine?

You can read more about my visit to Scarborough Marsh in Travels with Maggie, available on Amazon.

Bean Pat: Nature: https://naturehasnoboss.com / One of my favorite blogs. Few words and always a great insight into nature, like today’s photo of a ruffed grouse. Such images soothe me after a sleepless night.

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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