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The beauty of mother nature in all her forms can sometimes bring tears to my eyes. —  American bitter art by Pat Bean

          A strong person is not the one who doesn’t cry. A strong person is the one who cries and sheds tears for a moment, then gets up and fights again.”

An Aha Moment

          It was the late 1960s, and I was juggling a dysfunctional marriage, five children ranging in age from four to 13, and working as a green-behind-the-ears, naïve reporter. I cried a lot at home, always being the one blamed when things weren’t to someone’s liking. I simply cried and apologized.

I cried a lot at work, too, although I hid these tears in the paper’s darkroom, where I had begun my 37-year journalism career processing camera film. City editor Roberta Dansby — whom I eventually came to credit with teaching me almost everything I needed to know about being an ethical journalist — yelled at me daily for two years for anything she considered I had done wrong.

Not wanting to be yelled at, I seldom committed the same error twice and learned a lot. But I clearly remember the day Roberta yelled at me for something I knew for sure wasn’t my fault. Without blinking an eye, I shocked myself by standing up and yelling right back at her across the newsroom.

That was the last time Roberta yelled at me, although I was under her tutelage for another two years.

It took me longer and a lot more tears before I finally stood up for myself at home, but eventually, I did. And life became much sweeter, even my tears. I continue to shed them, but most, these days, are tears of joy: A new great-grandchild, a magnificent sunset, the flash of sun on a red-tailed hawk’s feathers and a glimmer of hope that someday the world will be kinder.

*This post was prompted by my writing circle prompt to write about an aha moment.

Bean Pat: A rambling blog about Christmas cookies https://kjottinger.com/2019/12/28/wherein-pooh-is-quoted/ that made me laugh. I love laughing.

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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New Year’s Resolutions

          “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” — Mary Anne Radmacher

My dear friend Kim and I recalled memories as we sat around and drank Jack and Cokes on New Year’s Eve. One of the best was the hot air balloon trip we took together over the Serengeti in Africa. This was the balloon ahead of us.

It’s been the best of weeks and the worst of weeks, which is why I’m just now contemplating my New Year’s resolutions, I always make them, and I always break them,

Kim, me and her son Cory hiking Indian Trail above Ogden, Utah. Cory was still a baby when I first met him.

The best of the week was that a dear friend, who I’ve known now for over 40 years, flew in to celebrate the advent of the new year with me. The worst part was that my back went out of commission for a few days and I still had to walk my dog (and another I was babysitting) up and down three flights of stairs four times a day,

My youngest daughter used my woes to once against suggest I move to a ground floor apartment. Nope, I said. Those stairs and my dog, are my foolproof exercise plan. And I know from experience that my back gets better quicker if I continue to move around instead of lying around,

And thus, that silver lining that I’m always looking for happened. My back was back to its normal 80-year-old self after four days. Normal, if you hadn’t already guessed, is not the same as a younger back. It sometimes hurts and I can’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds without paying the consequence.

Kim and me just before we went skydiving to celebrate my 70th birthday.

But this old broad, who once ran everywhere, not only can live with that, but is thankful for all the blessings that living a slower life has brought: More time to observe nature, to learn new things, to read and write, and to connect the dots of 80 years of living.

As for that New Year’s resolution, I think Mary Anne Radmacher’s words cover all the basics:

“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”

That’s a lot of New Year’s resolutions to break, although since I’ve already had a lot of practice trying to live them, they might be non-breakable.

Bean Pat: Old Plaid Camper https://oldplaidcamper.com/2020/01/03/fifteen-minutes/ Another blogger who looks for life’s silver lining.

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’m currently reading this book — and loving it.

          A love of books, of holding a book, turning its pages, looking at its pictures, and living its fascinating stories goes hand-in-hand with a love of learning.” – Laura Bush

What I’m Reading

          I’m reading In My Mind’s Eye, a collection of short essays written by Welch author Jan Morris when she was in her nineties. Jan is one of my favorite authors, and I’m loving her unvarnished look at the world through the lens of age.

Dr. Johnson’s Dicitionary, first published in the 18th century is still lurking around in book stores.

Jan, who was once James and served in the military and climbed Mount Everest in the 1950’s, has written almost too many travel and history books to count. In My Mind’s Eye is a kind of daily diary, however. Topics range from talking to your cat to her idea of a smile test.

On Day 59 in the book, Jan talks about looking through her vast collection of books for Dr. Johnson’s dictionary, fifth edition, 1788. As he picks up the book, Jan notices the damage on the spine and remembers that it was put there by her “darling daughter,” 50 years ago when her pram was parked by the bookcase.

Who in the heck is Dr. Johnson? I stopped reading and looked him up. He was Samuel Johnson, considered one of the best writers of the 18th Century, and best known for his Dictionary of the English Language. I love reading a book in which I learn something new.

Meanwhile, another of my favorite days in Jan’s book is the one in which she rewrote the words to the battle hymn Onward Christian Soldiers.

Onward friends and neighbors, into the kindly sun,

          Where we are paid-up members, each and every one.

          We need no theologians, no doctrinal guff,

          No military idioms, no sham repentance stuff –

          We take the worthy with the nasty, the gentle with the rough.

          The absolute of absolutes. Kindness is enough.!”

Kindness is my word for the year.

  Bean Pat: To all the many, many authors who have challenged my mind and broadened my horizons.

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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Cooper’s Hawk. Once I became addicted to birdwatching, I couldn’t not see birds. And occasionally I got lucky and got a good photograph. — Photo by Pat Bean 

“Does the road wind uphill all the way?  Yes. To the very end. Will the journey take the whole day?  From morn to night, my friend.” — Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Dredging up the Past

I’ve begun work on my memoir, which friends have been urging me to do for years. Like most people’s lives, mine has good parts and bad parts. My book, Travels with Maggie, is 100 percent upbeat, focusing only on the life’s sunshine. I’m happy with it.

If you’re looking for a good book with lots of trivia about America’s cities and landmarks, check out Travels with Maggie on Amazon. It’s G-rated and an excellent book to read together with your kids. Maggie was my canine companion on the six-month birding trip. — Book cover by Sherry Watcher.

For the past year or so, I’ve been working on a second book about my adventures as a late-blooming, bird-watching old broad, tentatively titled Bird Droppings. It also looks at the world through Pollyanna’s eyes. I’m thinking I might start trying to market the chapters I’ve written as single essays.

Meanwhile, as I think about my memoir, tentatively titled Between Wars, a book that will focus on my 37 years as a journalist while also being the mother of five children, and surviving a nasty divorce, I know I will have to put the rose-colored glasses in the trash bin.

I’m not sure I can do it. But I’ve started going back through all my journals and finding I at least enjoy doing the research.

For example, as a former river rat who took two, 16-day, white-water rafting trips down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, I almost couldn’t stop laughing after reading this entry:  The difference between a fairy tale and a river trip: The fairy tale begins “Once upon a time,” while the river trip tales begins: “No shit! There I was…”

            This past day’s entry also contained some quotes that are still worth repeating.

Me, at the Standard-Examiner in 1992, when I was the paper’s environmental reporter. It was my favorite newspaper job, and I held it for 10 years before I became city editor to get more money.. — Photo by Charles Trentelman.

“To the dull mind all nature is leaden. To the illuminated mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson. I think I was reading one of Emerson’s journals at this time.

I was also probably reading one of Natalie Goldberg’s writing books, too. For I wrote down this quote of hers. “If you do not fear the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you.”

I also wrote down some thoughts of my own, in quote form. “At one time in life, I sought logic in everything. Now I know better,” and “If our thoughts were not continually shifting, we’d be a broken record to ourselves.” – Pat Bean

Bean Pat: What a Waste https://brevity.wordpress.com/2019/08/29/what-a-waste/ Leonard Bernstein and scammed writers.

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


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Road Tripping


On the road again, outside Monterey, California. — Photo by Jean Gowen

          “The real voyage of discovery consists in not seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

Interstate 80 and a Lifer  

            Day Six: Coffee was again the first order of the day, but this time I didn’t get lost on the way back. After our caffeine fix, Jean was eager to go to the beach again. I sent her alone and stayed at the inn with Scamp. I wanted to catch up with my journaling – and much-needed alone time.

            When Jean returned, we packed up, then made a stop at a tire store because my low-pressure light had popped on the day before. All tires, probably because of a change in elevation and temperature, were a bit low, which meant there really wasn’t a problem. Aired up, we headed east out of Monterey and before long all the heavy, horrendous traffic was behind us. As the driver, I heaved a great sigh of relief, and once again was able to enjoy the passing landscape.

A California towhee — my first, and No. 711 on my life bird list.

           Before long we hit Interstate 80, a route that stretches from the Pacific Ocean in the West to the Atlantic Ocean in the East. We would take it all the way to Salt Lake City, before heading north to Ogden, Utah, where I had lived and worked for 25 years. We had two sleepovers before we would reach this destination, however.

The first was at the home of another of Jean’s half-sisters. This one lived in a splendid, remote home just off I-80 about an hour outside of Sacramento.

            We arrived mid-afternoon and were heartily welcomed by the sister, her husband, their two dogs, and many cats. Scamp and Dusty romped in the couple’s hilly backyard, glad for the exercise. Inside, however, I had to keep Scamp on a leash beside me because he was determined to chase the cats.

            After a grilled salmon dinner with all the trimmings, Jean and her sister took the dogs on a walk up a steep hill to a pond while I sat on the patio and watched birds. I was thrilled to announce when they had returned – with muddy dogs that needed to be rinsed off with a hose — that I had seen a lifer, a bird that I had never seen before.

            It was a California towhee, a dull brown bird with a bit of rust color beneath its tail and at its throat. There are six towhees that can be found in North America, and I had already seen the other five: spotted towhee in Ogden, Utah, on Dec. 20, 2001; green-tailed towhee on Power Mountain Ridge in Ogden Valley on Aug. 12, 2002; canyon towhee in Sierra Vista, Arizona, on May 9, 2004; eastern towhee in Camden, Arkansas on Dec. 24, 2008; and Albert’s towhee on April 5, 2012 in Tucson, Arizona.

            Seeing this final one on June 26, 2019, near Sacramento, made me one happy birder.

            After this, Scamp and I retired early to one of the guest rooms and left Jean and her sister alone to catch up on the years that they had been apart. In the middle of the night, I took Scamp outside so he could do his business.  It was dark, and when I heard a rustling in the bush, I realized how wild the landscape was surrounding her sister’s home. Scamp and I both hurried back inside. We would wait to enjoy the scenery until daylight.

            Bean Pat: Where – or When https://simpletravelourway.wordpress.com/2019/07/27/travel-advice-temperatures-and-showers/  Another travel blog.

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

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Road Tripping

            “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau

Jelly fish at the Monterey Aquarium. — Photo by Jean Gowen


            When we walked into the Fireside Lodge, our Monterey home for the next two nights, the first words out of Jean’s mouth were: “I wonder how many pornographic movies have been filmed in this room?” I wasn’t sure where that thought came from, but it did make me laugh – and check to make sure the sheets were clean.

The Fireside Lodge.

            As for its name, our room, which appeared to have once been an efficiency apartment, did have a fireplace, but we would have had to pay extra to use it. Otherwise, it only cost us $188 per night, which wasn’t too bad seeing as it was pet-friendly and we were in Monterey. The lodge was conveniently located about halfway from Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row and was away from heavy traffic, with one of our nearest neighbors being a liquor store.  

            Across the street was a narrow tree-lined stretch of grass where we were told we “must” walk our dogs. This area also held a picnic table, where both mornings when I walked the dogs, sat a grizzled, homeless-looking man at the table using a computer. I said “Hi” the first morning, but he ignored me, as I did him the second day,

Our room at the Fireside Lodge.

            Day 5: The first order of business when we woke up the next morning was coffee. Jean Googled a Starbucks on her phone, and once we had its address, just a little over a mile away, I took off to get the coffee. I didn’t return for over an hour. The coffee shop was located on a Navy base and the entry gate where my GPS led me was blocked. I then used it to locate another nearby coffee shop. I found it, ordered our coffee, a latte for me and a flat white for Jean., and then promptly got lost on the way back to the lodge – despite my GPS. I got to see a good bit of Monterey, a bonus for getting lost before I finally found the lodge again. Thankfully the coffee was still hot.

            The second order of business was to leave our canine companions at a doggie day-care so Jean and I could visit the Monterey Aquarium and Cannery Row. It was our one scheduled outing without our canine companions for the trip.

The day’s sight-seeing was splendid, especially the aquarium, but we were both eager to retrieve our animals at the end it.

I expected Scamp, who is still a rambunctious puppy, to have earned a bad report card from his caretakers. Nope. They had nothing but praise for him, noting as soon as we walked in the door that he had played well with all the other dogs, made special friends with a few, and had been fun to watch. Dusty had also been good, but more aloof, they said.

Finally, all tired out, Scamp makes himself comfortable in the back seat of the car. — Photo by Jean Gowen

When they brought the dogs out, Dusty jumped, pranced and danced with unconcealed joy to see her owner, Jean. Scamp hadn’t wanted to leave his new friends and acted as if I had never left him. I think my feeling were hurt.

We then located a beach, where Jean let Dusty run while I kept Scamp on a leash while walking for a bit beside the water. The tide was coming in and the waves were strong, I enjoyed letting them run over my bare feet, but Scamp tried to avoid them.

Once back at our lodging, we had hamburgers delivered by Uber and sat outside our room to eat. I also had a Jack and Coke, which went well with the expensive, but tasty burgers.

It was a great day!

Bean Pat:  Short hikes https://juliejourneys.com Ideal for old broads like me, even if I’m just taking an armchair walk.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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Road Tripping

            Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy

Scamp and Dusty in the car vying for a good look of the road.

First Four Days

            I’ve just returned from a 12-day road trip with my good friend Jean and our two dogs. WOW!

Selfie of the two travelers. I was the driver for the trip and Jean took the photos.

            Day 1: We got out of Tucson at 7:30 a.m., our spirits thrilled with the freedom of the open road. We stopped at a great dog park in Yuma, where we ate lunch while the dogs briefly roamed before coming to sit beside us in the shade hoping for a bite of our sandwiches. As we left, Jean told me there was a man in some nearby bushes shooting up drugs near an abandoned building across the road. You just never know what sights you’ll see along the road.

We got into San Diego during the afternoon rush hour but made it safely to our dog-friendly Red Roof Hotel, close to the beach as advertised but located between two auto dealerships. We looked for a dog park but didn’t like what we found. So, we got burgers and went back to the hotel. The dogs loved being able to jump from one bed to the other in the small room, an unending activity when there was an opportunity all during the trip.

It looks nicer than it was, but for $200 a night with two dogs in San Diego, this was what we got. Oh, and we had busy auto dealers on both sides.

Day 2:  First stop was a PetSmart so I could buy a sturdy harness for Scamp, who was so excited about new things to investigate that I was afraid he would break his neck pulling so hard on the leash, or that the leash would break free and he would dash into traffic and be smashed flat. We then went to meet Jean’s new sister, one she didn’t know she had until recent DNA test results. We then spent five hours visiting with the new sister and one of Jean’s cousins. We sat outside in a splendid courtyard, with our dogs by our sides, at their much nicer hotel. It was a great visit that no one wanted to end.  Of course, I got sunburned.

Day 3: Jean was getting antsy about not having beach time, but the one dog-friendly beach we found this morning was crowded, with absolutely no parking.

So, we drove North on Highway 1 toward Morro Bay. Traffic around Los Angeles was horrid, and we finally gave up Highway

Western gulls in Morro Bay.

1 and took Highway 101, that provided us occasional views of the Ocean. It was a long day of driving. But finally, we made it to our dog-friendly hotel, a bit on the shabby side but with a view of the ocean across the way. We ate sandwiches, walked the dogs and crashed early, with the dogs jumping back and forth between our beds for a long time.  

Day 4: We only had about 150 miles to drive today — and we planned to do it leisurely on Highway 1 all the way into Monterey.  The first order of the day was ice for the cooler and snacks for the road, and then it was beach time just a few miles up the road. Scamp wanted to first eat a dead gull – yuck! And then he was into everything and running all over the place, while Dusty was happy to run in and out of the waves with her happy owner. Scamp ran with Dusty for a bit, then got distracted by another dog. He has yet to meet a dog he

Elephant seals on the beach in San Simeon.

doesn’t want to play with. I eventually had to put him back on the leash. I couldn’t help but think how much more fun beach time would have been with Pepper, my canine companion who died in March. The trip was originally planned with her and Dusty in mind. Pepper would have been the good dog, and Dusty the “scamp.”  Pepper wouldn’t get more than about 25 feet away from me. Now I had the true “Scamp.” But we still had fun.

 A bit farther up the road, we stopped at Elephant Seal Rookery in San Simeon. You can see seals at the beach here all year round, up to 17,000 during the peak seasons. Not nearly that many this time of year, but there were still quite enough – young, mature and old – seals hanging around for good viewing.

This day’s drive was the most scenic and relaxing of all, especially since we seemed to have left most of the traffic on the southern side of Morro Bay.

To Be Continued:

Bean Pat: Dressed by a legend https://johawkthewriter.com/2019/07/12/dressed-by-a-legend-thursday-threads/

*Available on Amazon, 

A writing practice and a tribute.

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

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