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I didn’t get my Texas bluebonnet fix this year. The isolation curfew kept me home here in Tucson. But at least I have my memories. This photo was shot on Goose Island State Park a few years ago. — Photo by Pat Bean.

“I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part and discuss it only with consenting adults.” – Molly Ivins

But My Soul Requires Mountains

I’m a transplanted Texan, but the Lone Star State has a grip on my heart, even after half a century of living elsewhere.

My old Texas roots wink at me from a hoopoe-pecking oil rig sitting in a meadow full of bluebonnets when I go home to visit family once or twice a year; they wave at me when I pass a field full of cotton ready to be harvested, jogging my memory of the story my mother told about her father picking cotton during the Great Depression so she could have a prom dress.

A drive to the top of Mount Lemmon on Sky Island Parkway is just minutes away. I think I will break the isolation curfew and drive it this weekend. It will make up for missing Texas’ bluebonnets. — Photo by Pat Bean

The sight of a mockingbird brazenly flashing the white on its gray wings takes me back to the apricot tree that sat in my grandmother’s large garden. Almost every piece of ripened fruit I picked had first been tasted by one of these noisy Texas state birds.

My memory then morphs from mockingbirds to me as a little girl sitting on the tall back steps of my grandmother’s home eating her freshly baked pralines until I made myself sick.

I sat on those same steps often each afternoon as I waited for the silver Texas Zephyr to roar past on the railroad tracks beyond the vacant field behind the house. I always waved at the engineer and imagined that the whistle, blown as the train neared the crossing, was sounded just for me.

Perhaps I did inherit my grandfather’s wanderlust, as my mother told me, but I think that Texas Zephyr might have roared its ways into my veins as well.    Where had it been? Where was it going? I wanted to go, too – and over the years I did.

My grandmother, whom I adored, was a Texan through and through. She said if a person wasn’t born in Texas than they didn’t deserve to be. It’s an attitude difficult for non-Texans to understand. It also an attitude not likely to earn friends – yet I have it.

But while I truly feel Texan through and through, I’ve chosen to live the latter and longest portion of my life among the mountains, first living and working next to the Wasatch Range in Utah, then visiting as many mountains as I could, and now nesting next to the Santa Catalina Range in Arizona.

My life doesn’t feel right if I can’t watch the daily changing moods of a mountain, and feel the comfort of its sturdiness as the years of my life race by.

How does this flatlander Texan — the person who goes back home and almost weeps with delight as truck drivers tip their hats at me as I pass them on one back road or another — feel about this dichotomy?

It’s mind-boggling. All I can think is that while my roots are planted in Texas soil, I’m thankful the dirt has been rich enough to let me flourish wherever my feet have taken me.

Bean Pat: One of my favorite Texas bloggers. https://pitsfritztow nnews.wordpress.com/2020/05/15/mama-with-twins/

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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Mrs. Polifax is quite fond of flowered hats.

“She drew herself up to her full height—it was a little difficult on a donkey—and said primly, ‘I have found that in painful situations it is a sensible idea to take each hour as it comes and not to anticipate beyond. But oh how I wish I could have a bath!’” – Words spoken by Dorothy Gilman’s fictional Emily Pollifax, a white-haired senior citizen who decided she wanted to be a spy.

A Series Quite Worth Rereading Today            

I discovered Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax books back in the 1970s, which marked some major turning points in my life. I was influenced by the character’s upbeat, adventurous and realistic attitude, and her efforts to make her life more meaningful than garden club meetings. I was, in a different way, trying to do the same.

Angela Lansbury played Mrs. Pollifax in a 1999 CBS TV Movie. And Rosalind Russell played her in a 1971 movie. Angela fit the role much better than Rosalind.

Gilman’s The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax was the first book in the series, written in 1966, and Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled, published in 2000, was the 14th. On discovering the books, I quickly read all that had been written at the time and eagerly awaited the next to come out.

Given that I have been a bit out of sorts with the current coronavirus and world situation, and my decision to stay isolated, I decided I would reread the Pollifax books. I finished the first of the 14 in the series at 2 a.m. this morning, and am eager to go on to the next.

Perhaps you would like to join me. Here are a few Emily Pollifax quotes so you can judge for yourself.

“Tragedies don’t interest me, tragedies and heartbreaks are all alike, what matters is how a person meets them, how they survive them.”

“It’s terribly important for everyone, at any age, to live to his full potential. Otherwise a kind of dry rot sets in, a rust, a disintegration of personality.”

“Everything is a matter of choice, and when we choose are we not gambling on the unknown and its being a wise choice? And isn’t it free choice that makes individuals of us? … I believe myself that life is quite comparable to a map … a constant choice of direction and route.”

“I have a flexible mind—I believe it’s one of the advantages of growing old. I find youth quite rigid at times.”

Dorothy Gilman

“Because lately I’ve had the feeling we rush toward something-some kind of Armageddon-set into motion long ago. There are so many people in the world, and so much destructiveness. I was astonished when I first heard that a night-blooming cereus blooms only once a year, and always at midnight. It implies such intelligence somewhere.”

Gilman was born in 1923 and died in 2012 at the age of 88. Her Pollifax series was begun at a time when women in mystery meant Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, and international espionage meant young government men like Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Emily Pollifax became a spy in the 1960s’ and may be the only spy in literature to belong simultaneously to the CIA and her local garden club, according to Wikipedia.

Bean Pat: A tribute to Dorothy Gilman for the many, many hours of pleasure and contemplation she has given me for nearly half a century, and to the hundreds of other writers who have done the same

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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Home with a Scamp

Scamp taking in the morning sun as it came in through my bedroom balcony this morning. — Photo by Pat Bean

“No one appreciates the very special genius of our conversation as the dog does.” – Christopher Morley

At Least I Can Hug My Dog

The shelter ad said she was eight months old, a schnauzer mix, and it called the dog Smidge.

Wrong, wrong and wrong. She was a he, and probably a couple of months younger than claimed, and there is not a smidgen of schnauzer in him– at least according to the DNA results I received yesterday, a gift from my youngest daughter who did the swabbing.

Scamp taking a snooze after a lengthy session of ball throwing and retrieving in the house. — Photo by Pat Bean.

I immediately knew the dog’s name was not Smidge, and thought it might be Harley. But two weeks later, I knew without a doubt that his name was Scamp. For one thing, he resembles the Disney animated dog Scamp, and he definitely is one.

His puppy ways and how he kept growing and growing out of the 20-pound lapdog I was expecting convinced me that he was quite a bit younger than eight months when I took him home last May. He finally stopped growing in January, weighing in today at about 35 pounds.

His DNA results show he is 50 percent Siberian husky, 37 percent Shih Tzu, with some cocker spaniel, Maltese and miniature poodle thrown into the mix, which may be why he is convinced he is the lapdog I wanted.

Whenever I sit in my living room recliner, he shares it with me, lays at my feet when I am at my desk, and is a bed hog when he sleeps with me at night. We do have lots of conversations these days, as he is my only isolation companion.

He’s a better listener than most of my other friends, cocking his head to one side as if he truly understands what I’m nattering on about.

Both of us are extroverts who like people and animals. So, this isolation is not the easiest to endure. Thankfully we have each other.

available on Amazon

Bean Pat: Zimmy https://lithub.com/meet-zimmy-the-quarantine-dog-or-an-insane-response-to-an-insane-time/ This post was my inspiration for today’s blog. It’s cleverly written and funny.

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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The two memorable rapids on the Snake River below Jackson, Wyoming, are Kahuna and Lunch Counter. Kahuna was wild when the water was low and Lunch Counter was wild when the water was high, which meant we rafters always had a thrilling ride.

          “Life is like the river. Sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.” – Emma Smith

          The year was 1983 when I found myself, for the first time, completely on my own. Two marriages, one of 22 years and one of only eight months, were behind me, while my five children had all left the nest and scattered, not just across the country but across the world.

I took both these photos from Lunch Counter — a couple of hours after our groups had passed through this same spot. — Photos by Pat Bean

The freedom turned me giddy, and searching for adventure. I had taken up skiing a few years earlier with my one child still at home. I loved it, but I was a chicken skier who sat down on the snow anytime I thought I might get out of control.

When my final child got married, I soon after followed suit, moving to Nevada, where my new husband and I both worked for the Las Vegas Sun. It was a fun time in my life – for eight months. After the breakup, I ended up as regional editor at the Times News in Twin Falls, Idaho, where I soon went on my first white-water rafting trip. It immediately became a passionate hobby that I indulged in for the next 25 years.

Within a month of my first rafting adventure, I had bought my own, six-person, paddle raft and every weekend, weather permitting, found me and friends floating down the Snake River between Hagerman and Bliss, Idaho.

It was a fun trip, with rapids big enough to thrill but not deadly, or so I thought until the day I forgot to check water levels before launching. It was the day that the irrigation water had been turned off and a resulting gigantic rapid flipped the raft and sent all the passengers scurrying for land — and a five-mile walk back to civilization.

That was the first lesson the river taught me: Never assume!

When I left Twin Falls, the regular summer rafting trips took place on the Snake River below Jackson, Wyoming. I also took two 16-dqy trips through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River — as a paying passenger in which I paddled the first time and was oared down on the second, which was a present to myself on my 60th birthday.

There was also a week-long trip down the Salmon (The River of No Return) one year, plus numerous day trips on other western rivers, including Utah’s Green and Idaho’s Boise and Payette. One mantra of those river trips, especially in the boat I captained, was self-rescue.

While everyone on the raft looked out for each other, everyone knew they were ultimately responsible for themselves. And on the few commercial trips I took, I always had to sign a waiver acknowledging that very same thing.

I came to realize that self-rescue was also a good life-management tool.

But I think the most important thing the rivers gave me, at a time when I desperately needed it, was the confidence to carefully decide on a path of action and then fully commit. There was no sitting down, or turning back, at the top of a rapid – just the thrill at the bottom to know you had faced your fears and done it!

Life, as we are all fully understanding now, has no safety net. I’m thankful for the guts the rivers gave me to live it.

Bean Pat: To all the health workers and everyone else out there who are helping others at the risk of their own lives, and to all those who are currently jobless and struggling to survive isolated at home in an effort to stop this pandemic.

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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In my 40s, after I had regained my 10-year-old brashness, I bought a raft and learned how to captain it. Bean Pats to the female boatmen who twice took me through Lava Falls on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, females who didn’t let gender stop them from doing what they wanted to do in life. 

          “The fact is that a woman who aspires to be chairman of the board or a member of the House does so for exactly the same reasons as any man. Basically, these are that she thinks she can do the job, and she wants to try.” – Shirley Chisholm

It’s Really a Human Rights Issue

          In my goal to read Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations all the way through, I’ve encountered many a distressing comment from the ancient Greek poets that set my teeth to grinding.

To quote just two: “There’s nothing worse in the world than shameless women –save some other woman.” –Aristophanes (450-385 B.C.). “A woman is always a fickle, unstable thing.” Virgil ( 70 -19 B.C0.)

The attitudes weren’t much different, however, from the social patterns prevalent when I was born 80 years ago. As I recall the attitude back then was “Keep the women barefoot and pregnant.”

At a very early age, certainly before 10, I realized that boys had more life options open to them than girls. While I never envied their maleness, my bold, feisty nature emboldened me to vow that anything a boy could do, so could I.

I decided I would never get married and would be a female lawyer, a brash goal for a young girl in the 1940s. The

My mother, shown here in her 70s on the back of a motorcycle with one of my brothers, was a great example for me in her later years.

goal was diverted when puberty hit, and I went off course and married at 16.

But deep inside, I never lost the belief that I could do anything a man could do, with the exception of brute strength. I’ve always been a realist even if also an idealist. But even that assumption was challenged during the Equal Rights Amendment fight back in the 1970s.

I suddenly realized that some women were stronger than some men, even me. I also realized that men, although they had hundreds of more options, those options didn’t include those that were considered feminine, such as nurses or airline stewardesses. So it was that I began to think of equal rights as human rights, especially after, as an ERA supporter, I was asked if I wanted my daughters to go to war.

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

By this time, I was in my 30s and had regained the feisty, brash attitude of my 10-year-old self. While I can’t say that I ever truly was accepted by everyone as an equal to my male counterparts, and I had to fight for equal pay in my chosen journalism career, I was able to have the life I wanted. And that, I’ve known now for many years, is the important right for all of us – regardless of gender.

Bean Pat: To all the women along the way who have inspired me, beginning with Loraine Bright, the woman I first revealed my secret desire to become a writer, and my first female editor Roberta Dansby, plus to name a few of the more well-known: Ellen Goodman, Anna Quindlen, Maureen Dowd, Barbara Jordan, Anne Richards, Molly Ivins and Maya Angelou.

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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The Waterfall at the top of Franconia Notch Flume Trail. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” Anna Quindlen

It Is What It Is

          I’ve said it often, I enjoy being an old broad. Not thinking everything that goes wrong is a life or death situation, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren are just some of the positive sides of the aging equation.

Like everything else, however, there are drawbacks, the worst of which for me are the physical limitations that have restricted my hiking days.

My former canine traveling companion, Maggie, on a hike we took in Arizona’s Tpnto Basin. — Photo by Pat Bean

While I’m in good health for my age, and can still take short walks with my canine companion, scampering up and down mountain trails and silently trekking through deep forests paths are no longer possible. It hurts my soul to admit this.

Thankfully, I have my memories of the trails I have hiked – from the view of the Virgin River atop Angel’s Landing in Utah’s Zion National Park to the waterfall at the top of Franconia Notch Flume Gorge in New Hampshire. I’ve also hiked Waimea Canyon in Hawaii and many, many trails in Yellowstone National Park. Actually, I’ve managed to take at least short hikes in 49 states and Canada – I’ve missed Rhode Island.

In addition, I am collecting the memories stored in books by so many others who have loved the freedom of being out of sight and sound of civilization. Currently I am reading In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin and Monkey Dancing by Daniel Glick, who took his two children on a trip around the world.

You can read about hikes I took in my late 60s and early 70s in my book: Travels with Maggie, which is available on Amazon

The truth is I’m addicted to reading travel books by authors like Tim Cahill, Edward Abbey, Jan Morris, Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson, Isabel Bird, Freya Stark, William Least-Heat Moon, Jon Krakauer and Peter Matthiessen, just to name a few.

Thankfully, being an old broad, means I have more time 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, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Morning Thoughts

When Scmp gets bored, he looks for things to shred. This morning it was two bookmarks. At least he doesn’t eat the pieces, and I get plenty of exercise picking up after him. — Photo by Pat Bean

With a cup of cream-laced coffee in hand, and my canine companion Scamp squeezed into my recliner with me, I continued my morning perusal of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotes, the first edition of which was published 165 years ago. Just for fun, I’ve been reading a couple pages a day of the old book.

It’s arranged chronologically and I’ve only gotten up to the 300 B.C.s. This morning’s reading included words by the

Theocritus — Wikimedia photo

Greek poet Theocritus’ His thoughts echoed in my own mind, speaking to an old broad who has finally slowed down and longs for peace in her life — which given the chaos in the world has been difficult to achieve.

Wrote Theocritus: “Sweet is the whispering music of yonder pine that sings. Our concern be peace of mind: some old

crone let us seek. To spit on us for luck and keep unlovely things afar. Cicala to cicala, and ant to ant, And kestrels dear to kestrels, but to me the Muse and song.

“The frog’s life is most jolly, my lads; he has no care … Who shall fill up his cup; for he has drink to spare … Verily, great grace may go. With a little gift; and precious are all things that come from friends.”

I thought it interesting that on the same page, Bion, another Greek poet, also mentioned frogs: “Though boys throw stones at frogs in sport, the frogs do not die in sport, but in earnest.” A good point to ponder, I think.

And now I’ll go put up Bartlett until tomorrow morning, and go walk Scamp, He has been looking at me with injured eyes because I have been ignoring him.

I wonder if Theocritus and Bion ever used a dog as an analogy in their writings?”

Bean Pat: Never Assume https://forestgardenblog.wordpress.com/2020/02/23/sunday-dinner-never-assume/ My thoughts exactly.

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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