Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Writing and Music

Pure fakery fun! Me in 2012 standing on The Circle in the Grand Ole Opry House during the last of my RV-ing years. 

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours.” — J.D. Salinger

The Write Words

          Author Dani Shapiro compares writing to music.

“When you have written something … listen to it,” she says in Still Writing, which Terry Tempest Williams calls “a wise, pragmatic soulful guide to the writing life.”

“What instrument does your language call to mind? A cello? An electric guitar? An oboe?“ Dani asks.

Hmmm!

Dani’s words, of course, made me ask what instrument my writing calls to mind. I’m not a musical person so coming up with an answer took a good bit of thought.

First drafts, definitely a fiddle, I finally decided. If the editing goes well, and my efforts to make my words sing succeeds, perhaps a flute. It would be nice to feel like my writing floats harmoniously across the page.

But then I realized I also wanted my writing to have a drummer lounging in the background, one who sounds off enough to echo the beat of myself walking to Thoreau’s different pace.

It was a fun question to answer, perhaps because there were no right or wrong answers.

Bean Pat: Top 10 of the Decade https://lithub.com/the-10-best-debut-novels-of-the-decade/ Lit Hub’s choices. I find I usually agree with only half of any such lists, but these books are worth checking out if you’re looking for something 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 available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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.

Thorns

Beauty among the thorns. — Photo by Pat Bean

          You cannot show people only the petals and not the thorns. It’s not fair to them.” – Bethenny Frankel

Morning Chat

          Marianne Moore, an American poet born in 1887 whose work was rife with irony and wit, said: “Thorns are the best part of you.”

My younger self would have argued the point – until the day I noticed that my children were all in love with my mother. She was a person who had lots of thorns.

She was also a kind person, but the thorns, as Marianne proclaimed, were the best part of her.

It took a few more years, however, before I let my own thorns show. And that only happened when I realized that people would still like me, well at least the people who counted, if I were more than a smiling, agreeable twit who never said “No” to anyone’s request.

It seems I had only been pretending to be a goodie-two-shoes – and that probably lost me more friendships than it saved.

I still smile a lot, and try to be kind. But sometimes, as my close friends and telemarketers can testify, I can be a real bitch.

Bean Pat: Celery Bog https://pinolaphoto.com/2019/09/27/the-fall-migration-comes-to-the-celery-bog/ A walk among the birds I wish I could take.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. 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.

Dang Those Extra 30 Pounds

It’s fall. I love pumpkin pie and my pumpkin soup. And I’m going to eat as much as I want. — Painting by Pat Bean

          “Embrace what you have. Say, ‘Belly, you might be poking out today, but I’m going to choose to love you and nurture you.” – Ashley Graham

Morning Chat

          As I’m rereading my journals from the 1990s, I find myself frequently coming across instructions to not eat so much, to get serious about losing weight, t0 exercise more, and numerous promises to myself to follow this or that dieting plan.

As a young girl, I was on the skinny side and stayed that way, even through five pregnancies, until I hit about 30. I then spent the next 20 or so years at a weight that felt right for me. But when I hit my 50s, I began adding pounds, eventually about the 30 extra that I still carry around today.

I can starve myself for two weeks, then look at food and I’m back where I started. I finally realized that if I ate reasonably sensible, but never denied myself anything I truly wanted, my weight didn’t fluctuate. Over the past 15 years since I retired, my weight has not varied by more than five pounds, and that was downward, and might have had something to do with the numerous trips I make up and down three flights of stairs every day.

Today my weight only varies by one or two pounds — no matter what I eat. It seems my body wants those extra 30 pounds and there is not much I can do about it other than starve myself and be miserable. But since I enjoy cooking and eating, and am not a martyr, I have come to love my body just the way it wants to be — and to be thankful to it for all the good times it has given me.

I think I must have started down this path on April 5, 1998, when I wrote in my journal: “I need to walk more for my soul, and less for exercise.”

          Bean Pat: https://westwardwewander.com/ If you like traveling, nature and hiking, you’ll love this blogger

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. 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.

Cats I Have Known

A painting I did of my cat Chigger. She was a black and orange tortoise-shell cat with lots of personality. She loved to sit on the laps of visitors, especially if they were allergic to cats, as was my old friend and co-worker Charlie. 

          “I’m curious. Period. I find everything interesting. Real life. Fake Life. Flowers. Cats. But mostly people. If you keep your eyes open and your mind open, everything can be interesting.” Agnes Varda

Morning Chat

          I grew up with dogs and thought I didn’t like cats. That feeling was confirmed when my nine-year-old daughter, Deborah, brought home a black cat that she said had followed her home from school. Maybe, maybe not.

The cat across the way who prompted me to write this blog. — Photo by Pat Bean

She named her Mai Ling, and she was the nastiest meanest cat I have ever known. She hid under the couch and scratched people’s ankles as they passed by – and she jumped on people in the middle of the night.

But my daughter loved her and so the cat stayed – until she adopted another home down the street. My daughter brought her back a couple of times but she always went back. I think our home was one she simply adopted temporarily after she tired of her home before ours.

Meanwhile, my kids – I had five of them – were always bringing home stray dogs, which we took in until we could find a home for them. One day, however, they brought in this skinny, bedraggled, ugly cat. I knew before we could find it a home, we would have to fatten it up a bit. But by the week’s end, the whole family had fallen in love with this cat, and we kept her.

After a few more weeks, just as the ugly duckling turned into a swam, our ugly cat turned into a beautiful calico that lived with us for many years. We named her Kitirick, after the Houston TV Channel 13 KTRK’s mascot Kitirick. The sexy, black-cat dressed mascot was played by Wanda Louise Orsak.

A collage of cats from one of my art journals.c

The next cat I came to love was a 17-pound, cross-eyed Siamese with an overbite. He was the first family animal that liked me best, and his favorite sleeping spot was my pillow — right next to my head. We named him Emperor Sock-It-To-Me in honor of the TV show >Laugh In.” But we just called him Imp.

The last cat in my life came into my life on Christmas Eve in 1982. My son, Lewis, was on leave from the Army and had found a tiny kitten abandoned on a snowy canyon road. He dropped her into my lap and said, “Merry Christmas Mom.

She was tiny and cute, and I thought of naming her something sweet and pretty, like Crystal or Tiffany. I went to bed thinking about what her name should be; I had a lot of waking time to think because she wanted to play all night. By morning, I knew her name was going to be Chigger, because nothing is peskier than chiggers.

I had her until she died in 1999, leaving my then canine companion, Peaches, depressed. While in the company of humans, Peaches pretended the cat didn’t exist. But after Peaches became deaf, I would often come home from work and find the two animals curled up together on my bed.

So why am I writing about cats this morning? Because I’m staring at one in a window across from my balcony.

Bean Pat: To all the people out there who take good care of their cats, and other pets as well. Not much makes my blood boil hotter than someone who abuses animals.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. 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.

Sunshine Days and Rain

Looking at a rainbow off my bedroom balcony. — Photo by Pat Bean

          “The way I see it, if you want the rainbows, you gotta put up with the rain.” – Dolly Parton

Morning Chat

          My long-time friend Kim visited me this past weekend. We sat up the first night and drank Jack and Cokes on my balcony and chatted until the wee hours of the morning the first night, went to a paint class the next day, and a corny musical play at the Gaslight Theater here in Tucson, where we both laughed ourselves silly, last night.

Kim and I at the end of our paint class.

She had gotten a cheap ticket for the visit by landing at the Phoenix-Gateway Mesa Airport, which is two hours from my place. No problem because I jump at any opportunity these days to be on the road.

She arrived at 10 a.m. on Friday, which was perfect. But her flight back to Utah left at 6 a.m., which meant that we begin her drive back to the airport at 2:30 a.m. Not too big a deal until we were almost there and it started to rain, Drips at first and then buckets, which made seeing, especially for my old eyes, a bit difficult.

But I was familiar with the route and we made it safely to the airport, where Kim got thoroughly drenched before she got her suitcase out of the hatchback. With the rain now coming down mightily, I creeped my way back to Interstate 10 via Loop 202 and through the town of Chandler. Back on the interstate, the rained stopped and I could once again enjoy the early morning drive.

I have to admit, I had cursed the rain when I had to drive through it.

This morning when I woke up, I discovered that the rain had come to Tucson overnight. But when a few minutes later I found myself waking my canine companion, Scamp, in the rain, I realized I was loving it.

I find it interesting how circumstances can give one’s brain a 180-degree turn.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: To everyone who loves walking in the rain.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. 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.

Gray-Haired Old Women

One of the magnets stuck to my refrigerator.

          “One day an army of gray-haired women may quietly take over the earth.” – Gloria Steinem

Morning Thoughts

          While perusing through Facebook this morning, something I allow myself to do for about 10 minutes after posting a link to my blog, I came across a painting of the backs of four women standing close together in a meadow filled with flowers, all with long gray hair that ended in one braid.

Gloria Steinem’s quote accompanied the illustration. The scene and words moved me. While my hair is short, it is gray these days and I am an old woman. And I would gladly join an army of sisters intent on bringing peace and sanity to this world.

I felt significant when I was a journalist and focused on educating, not editorializing, about things going on in my small part of the world. Today, it seems, we get more falsehoods than truth, and more righteous opinions then honest facts.

But now, as a gray-haired old woman, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing in my power is to be kind. A better world has to begin with that. But if my sisters ever raise that army, I’ll be one of the first to volunteer.

   Bean Pat: To all kind people in the world.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. 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.