Posts Tagged ‘jack london’

Alaska: Day 11 … Top of the World Highway

            “Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well … The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” — Jack London

The Yukon River near Dawson City. -- Wikimedia photo

The Yukon River near Dawson City. — Wikimedia photo

2001 Memories of a Non-Wandering Wonderer

It was a good thing that I was in a part of the world where summer days were long, because I had nearly 400 miles to drive today – and lots of things I wanted to see along the way.

img_3934But before I got on the road, I took time to drive around Dawson City — which didn’t take much time at all. It was a small town, and the only thing I discovered of interest was Jack London’s cabin.

But for a writer, and avid reader, that was thrill enough. London’s Call of the Wild and White Fang had been two of my favorite books growing up. A bit later, I was thrilled even more when I drove onto a small ferry to cross the Yukon River. All the romance of adventure from London’s books crept into my day, making me feel glad to be alive and on a road I had never traveled before.

And what a road it was. I took the little-traveled and only partially paved Top of the Road Highway out of Dawson City, which would take me on a side trip loop through the tiny town of Chicken, population of 25 nice people and one old grouch – according to a roadside billboard.

Downtown Chicken

Downtown Chicken

I refueled, bought postcards, and then continued on to Tok, where I rejoined the Alaskan Highway. From Tok, it was yet another 200 miles to Fairbanks. If I had to pick out my favorite driving day on this 30-day trip (the longest vacation I had ever taken away from my job) this day would be it. I loved driving for long minutes without another vehicle in sight – and the landscape truly did make me feel as if I were on top of the world.

Bean Pat: A New Year’s Tradition  http://tinyurl.com/hzxlk4n  I like this one. I once did a similar thing by walking down a steep ridge and dropping things I didn’t want in my life, and then picking up things I did want on the way back up.


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Of course, there are those critics – New York critics as a rule – who say, ‘Well Maya Anglou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer.’ Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.” – Maya Angelou

Words That Sing

If I remember right, Treasure Island was the first book I read from my grandfather's book cabinet.

If I remember right, Treasure Island was the first book I read from my grandfather’s book cabinet.

“Fifteen men on the Dead Man’s Chest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! Drink and the devil had done for the rest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”

This quote from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” sang to me when I was a young girl who had claimed her dead grandfather’s stuffed book cabinet.  As did the final words of Lord Byron’s “Prisoner of Chillon:”

These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage – and all my own!
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home:
With spiders I had friendship made,
And watch’d them in their sullen trade,
Had seen the mice by moonlight play,
And why should I feel less than they?
We were all inmates of one place,
And I, the monarch of each race,
Had power to kill – yet, strange to tell!
In quiet we had learn’d to dwell;
My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends
To make us what we are: – even I
Regain’d my freedom with a sigh.

Jack London's books encourage my love of animals; and it was a big thrill when I got to see his Yukon cabin.

Jack London’s books encouraged my love of animals; and it was a big thrill when I got to see his cabin in the Yukon.

Even as a 10-year-old girl, I understood the words of Lord Byron’s sonnet, and even memorized it. It was simply something this girl did growing up, and occasionally still does although the memorizing doesn’t come as easy.

I also memorized Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky:” which I didn’t understand, but whose language enchanted me; “ and Alfred Noyes’ “The Admiral’s Ghost,” whose opening lines “I tell you a tale tonight, which a seaman told to me, with eyes that gleamed in the lantern light, and a voice as low as the sea”  gave me goose bumps.

            I can still recite Jabberwocky from memory, and much of the other two pieces. Their words sang to me. Also in my grandfather’s book cabinet were the works of Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Jack London and many other classic authors, along with some not so classic.  But not having television, video games or a cell phone, I read them all at a very young age.

While Jack London’s books encouraged my friendship with animals as a young girl,  I didn’t know I was meant to be a writer until I was 25. I wonder if I ever would have known if it hadn’t been for my dead grandfather’s book cabinet.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Get Your Own Coffee http://tinyurl.com/o7spuxw As a woman fighting for job equality back when females were breaking into good-old-boy worker conclaves, I was fortunate to never be asked by a male colleague, or a boss, to get them coffee, or I might have responded much the same. But just to emphasize my equality, I never brought home-baked goodies to the office, as some of the other women did, or volunteer to be the social organizer for office events. Perhaps this is why I really liked this blog

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            “A flash of harmless lighting, a mist of rainbow dyes, the burnished sunbeams brightening, from flower to flower he flies.” John Banister Tabb

Bringing Joy to the Trees

A male costa hummingbird. The female lacks the bright colors, being mostly green and white. -- Pat Bean illustration.

A male costa hummingbird. The female lacks the bright colors, being mostly green and white. — Pat Bean illustration.

Since it’s warmed up here in Tucson, I’ve begun sitting at a picnic bench beneath some trees for Pepper’s afternoon outing.

Although it’s not the best time of day for birding, there are usually birds flitting in the trees surrounding me, so I bring my binoculars.

Yesterday, there was a pair of hummingbirds keeping me company while Pepper frolicked in the grass. From their general demeanor, I assumed the hummers were black-chinned, the species I’ve seen more often than any other.

Then something didn’t look quite right, and I realized I was now living in an area where more than black-chins or broadtails (Utah) or black-chins or ruby-throated (Texas except for the Rio Grande Valley) were common.

Hummingbirds, which seldom stay still, aren’t easy for me to identify. But after about 10 minutes of study,  and when one finally settled on a nearby branch facing me, I realized it was a costa hummingbird.

This was a life species for me, meaning the first time I had seen and identified this bird. I couldn’t wait to get back to my apartment and bring my list up to date. The costa hummingbird made No. 701 on the list of bird species I’ve seen.

I did a quick sketch so you can see it too. No way am I a good enough photographer to have captured this tiny bundle of energy on wings with my camera.

  Bean’s Pat: Readful Things http://tinyurl.com/lmcgc76 A review of “White Fang,” my second favorite Jack London book, which I read many, many years ago. Maybe it’s time for a reread. My favorite London Book, you ask? “Call of the Wild,” of course. A few years back I visited London’s cabin in the Yukon. The cabin is located in Dawson, where I spent the night before crossing the Yukon River on a ferry and driving the Top of the World Highway on my way to Fairbanks, Alaska. Ahhhhh! What good memories I have from that trip.

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 Travels With Maggie

This trail at Laura Walker Park called to me

Maggie and I were just about half-way around this 1.5 mile trail at Laura Walker State Park, located just a few miles from Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp, when we came upon a warning sign that said beware of bears. I think she and I covered the last half of the trail in a fourth of the time it took us to walk the first half. It was beautiful trail, however. -- Photo by Pat Bean

NaNoWriMo Update … 26,697 words  

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London 

Busy day today. Lots of errands to run. I’m not pleased with my word count, and hopefully I will get some more writing done before I go to bed.

I find it interesting that when I start writing a scene, things happen that I don’t know are going to happen. I find it frustrating, however, when I start a scene and then it doesn’t know where it wants to go. Both of these happened to me today, and numerous times over the past 15 days.

Keeping the action moving, trying to insert clues and red herrings, and leaving out all the boring stuff is my goal. But meeting it isn’t easy.

There is so much I want to do to make my words better. But I tell myself to just keep writing … just keep writing … just keep writing. Better is for later.

I would take heart in that the challenge is halfway over and the fact that I’m on target with my word count. But I fear it’s easy part that is all over. I’m thinking hard on the “S” word again

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