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Posts Tagged ‘cats’

On Drawing Cats

Snarky Cat in a Tree — Cat. No. 10

          “A line is a dot that went for a walk,” says Paul Klee. Not sure why, but that thought, and Klee’s own out-of-the-box paintings, loosens my artistic inhibitions. The first fear, of course, is being judged for my lousy drawing ability.

          To push myself to do more art, the doing of which, regardless of the outcome, makes me feel good about myself, I took on the challenge of drawing 30 cats, which is actually the first assignment in Carla Sonheim’s book Drawing: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun.

          The cats are supposed to be drawn quickly, and although the maximum amount of time I’ve spent — since beginning the challenge over a month ago – on drawing and painting each cat is less than 15 minutes, this morning I completed only Cat. No. 10.

          Like Barbara Kingsolver, one of my favorite authors, I am a writer who also does other things, and it’s the same for my art.

          Although retired, 81, and living in Covid isolation time, my days are full and pass quickly. For that I am blessed. But I’m still committed to finishing the challenge, so more cats are coming, even if slowly.

Meanwhile, acknowledging the goal and sharing my imperfect efforts, are keeping me on task. My thanks to all my readers.

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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Nothing About Life is Logical

Cat No. 8 — Stalking a Bird

Frank Herbert, author of the popular Dune series, said: ‘Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”

          If ever there was a time for those words to make sense, we’re living in them. As Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Polifax said — as best as I can remember it – life isn’t like a table setting where everything has its proper place.

          No, life is messy and impossible to control.

          I remember once standing by a lake, across which a dark storm cloud was dumping rain on the southern landscape. To the north, a summer sky was bright blue with sunlight shimmering down through puffy white clouds, while beneath my feet the rocky shoreline was framed by a colorful bush indicating fall had arrived.

          From a single spot, I was being presented with three stories, each in conflict with the other. Since I couldn’t deny reality, I had to believe them all. It’s the same with life and people. There are many realities, and just because we believe one doesn’t mean the others aren’t true. Mother nature’s triple feature left me pondering over this for a good long while.

          And then my brain tuned in to Bob Marley: “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So, when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!”

          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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Answering the Muse

Cat Ni, 7 — Orange Fuzzy Cat

Morning Thoughts and Cat No. 7

          I can procrastinate with the best, but underneath I’ve always had a strong work ethic – from doing homework assignments on time to always doings what I’ve signed up to do, which includes showing up for my writing even when the muse is on vacation in Paris or Timbuktu.

          As Octavia Butler says: “Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t.”

          Or as Natalie Goldberg says: “There’s no such thing as a writer’s block. If you’re having trouble writing, well, pick up the pen and write.”

          But life has changed for me. I’m no longer a working mother or a woman chasing a career. I’m a retired old broad. And while I keep myself quite busy, I no longer have a time schedule to follow.

          For the first time in my life, I am able to answer the muse when it visits, and to follow Henry David Thoreau’s advice to “Write while the heat is in you … The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.”

          It’s exciting to be able to sit down and write when an idea crossed my little gray cells. But I have to admit, the outcome doesn’t seem to know the difference. The butt in chair action doesn’t seem to care if the muse is looking over my shoulder or not. In the end, the important thing is to just do it.

          And that, if you remember, is my New Year’s Resolution.

          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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Cat No. 6 — Happy Fat Cat with Blue Eyes

          Somewhere around 5 a.m. this morning, a nearby pack of coyotes begin to howl.  My canine bed-partner Scamp sat up beside me and listened – and continued in that same position until I finally got up at 6 a.m. to walk him.

          The coyote howls brought back the time I had encounters with coyotes on Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake. I saw one or two often, especially when I visited the island to bird watch in winter.

          Once, when I was researching a story about coyote research at Utah State University, a playful coyote stole my camera bag. I admire the animal’s survivability, despite mankind’s desire to eliminate the species. 

          I live in Tucson, a city of more than half a million people, in a large apartment complex, near the corner of two busy four-lane roads, with banks, grocery stores, a MacDonald’s, two bagel places, a Starbucks, an animal clinic, two pharmacies, an Ace Hardware, a UPS office, several restaurants, and more businesses to the north and east.

          South and west of me is a scattered residential area broken up by desert ridges, washes, and even a dry river bed, to accommodate the area’s occasional monsoons, which recently have been rare.

          If you like having all the conveniences of a city but still a bit of nature in your life, as I do, it’s an ideal place to live.

I’ve seen bobcats in the parking lot, great horned owls raising chicks in large trees I walk by daily, rare North American birds from my third-floor balcony, and once or twice passed by javelinas that came into the complex when someone left a gate open.

          And then there are the coyotes that serenaded me and Scamp this morning. It was a good song, I thought, remembering my recent repair bill because desert packrats got into my car’s engine compartment.

Without coyotes, the desert rodent population might rise to take over Tucson. Just because they are different from us doesn’t make them evil.

          Hmmm! Now that’s a thought that can be expanded on.

          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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

           

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Limiting One’s Options

Cat No. 5 — Black and White Striped Cat

Rethinking Ideas.

          Having options is a good thing. True or False?

          Without much thought, I would answer true. Then I read what

Carla Sonheim, author of Drawing: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun, and who dreamed up that crazy idea to draw 30 cats that I accepted as a challenge, has to say about having too many options.

          “Even though I love drawing and have completed hundreds, each day I have a little mini war with myself when I face that blank page.”

          To get over that hump, she has what she calls an arsenal of starter exercises – rules, restrictions and challenges to work within – to get herself going.

I immediately understand.

Carla’s starter exercises for her art are the same as prompts writers use to start their brains. “It’s a paradox: when you have complete freedom, you often freeze up and do nothing,” she says.

OK! Back to drawing cats. I’m actually having fun with the exercise.  

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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Cat No. 4; Cat in a pink room.

Morning Thoughts and Cat. No. 4

About the Cat: It’s my version of one of the cats given as examples in the art book: Drawing: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun. The goal was to quickly draw 30 cats from imagination while lying in bed. I guessed that the goal was to get the reader/artist to stop feeling like they had to be perfect, because the cat illustrations were certainly not drawn realistically.

Learning to accept that I wasn’t perfect, somewhere in my mid-30s, was one of the best moments my life. Remembering this got me thinking about other lessons learned during my 81 years on Planet Earth. I decided to make a list of 10 things, but only got to eight before my brain shut off. They are:

          No. 1: Accept that you’re not perfect and be happy about it.

          No. 2. Don’t take anything personal unless it makes you feel better.

          No. 3. Realize that people are more concerned about how they look than how you look.

          No. 4. Get a dog and walk it daily.

     No. 5. Find your passion in life, and follow it.

     No. 6. Get back on the horse when you fall off.

     No. 7. Learn something new every day.

No; 8: Get enough sleep most nights. I say most nights because us old broads still gotta have fun once in a while.

Perhaps readers can lengthen the list by sharing things life has taught them.

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 (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Cat No. 2: Green Eyes and Glasses

Some People Might Call It Stubbornness

          Although I love cooking, and am reasonably good at it, I never bake cakes these days. I tried in my younger years but almost always they were dismal failures. They drooped, didn’t rise, had raw centers or a dozen other mishaps.

          That’s because I can’t ever seem to follow rules. While I can successfully add or subtract to my favorite one-pot dishes, leaving out or adding something a cake recipe calls for rarely works.

          I thought about that as I was drawing one of the cats for the first assignment in Drawing: 52 Exercises to Make Drawing fun. I sort of fudged yesterday when I wrote that the first exercise was to draw 30 cats.

          The exact words of the exercise were: “Draw 30 cats from your imagination while sitting or lying in bed.” But that didn’t seem fun to me. I’m not a daytime bed person, rarely even taking naps. So, I simply snipped off the end of the assignment to suit my style.

          The truth is I’m one of those people, whoever they are, who only read instructions when all else fails. And telling me I must do something is like waving a red banner in front of an angry bull.

          My journal writing has helped me understand these and many more of my failings — or strengths if you look at things from an opposite angle. I doubt I’m going to change at my age. But I am going to eventually draw 30 cats.

          More journaling and cats to come …

          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 free on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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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.

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Chigger

 “I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult. It’s not. Mine had me trained in two days.” — Bill Dana

Chigger

Chigger, as I saw and painted her back about 1996.

It was Christmas Eve,  1982, a time when my life was in the middle of major changes.  I was temporarily living in a small, quaint apartment in Utah that I would soon be leaving to accept a new job as regional editor at the Times-News in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Literally blowing in through my door on this cold, snowy night came my son, Lewis, who was on leave from the Army. He was driving down through Sardine Canyon in Northern Utah after visiting friends when he spotted a tiny kitten that had carelessly been set adrift in the snow by some heartless person.

He did what any of my children, who had been taught to love and respect all animals, would have done. He rescued the bit of cold fluff. And now, his cheeks still red with the cold, he dumped her into my lap and said, “Merry Christmas, Mom.” The kitten immediately snuggled herself deep in my heart.

I named her “Chigger,” because later that night, at about 3 a.m., she decided she wanted to play while I wanted to sleep. Since nothing is peskier than chiggers, I decided the name fit her.

She was my companion for the next 18 years.

Bean Pat: The Chase http://tinyurl.com/oavqocr Enjoy fox watching from your armchair. I did. Onion flowers http://tinyurl.com/lt6jy86 Something to think about.

 

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            “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”  — Lao Tzu

I just realized this morning that Pepper sort of looks like the dog token in Monopoly, which was always my favorite game piece.

I just realized this morning that Pepper sort of looks like the dog token in Monopoly, which is always my favorite game piece.

Change is Inevitable

            I recently learned that a cat token had replaced Monopoly’s iron token. I don’t know about you but I think it was about time.

I don't think so.

I don’t think so.

My iron went out with the first days of wash and wear. Before that, which was way back when I had growing children, by the time I got to the bottom of the basket that held clothes to be ironed, my children had outgrown them.

The change to Monopoly – a game I played for endless hours when I was a child – was a result of a popular vote to eliminate one icon and replace it with another.

It seems logical to me why the iron was displaced, but why not something more new age, like a computer or a space station, as the new token?

It gives us something to think about. So what token would you have replaced, what would your choice have been for a new icon, and which one do you like as your game piece?

I always play with the dog.

But I can’t think of a better choice than a cat for the new token.  If you own the right cat, or  more likely it owns you, as I have three out of four times, I found them to be almost as companionable as a dog. It’s OK Pepper. I said almost.

Change, I’ve come to learn in my old-broad wisdom, is often neither good or bad. It just is. And it’s inevitable.      

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

      Bean Pat: Worthy of Attention http://tinyurl.com/k8qbk8d  We all like compliments. And this blog reminds me to be freer with mine.

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