Posts Tagged ‘postaday2012’

 “Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.” – Terry Tempest Williams

Travels With Maggie

Yellow-headed blackbirds are common sights at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. -- Photo by Pat Beans

I first visited the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge east of the Great Salt Lake in Northern Utah in the 1970s. It was lush with vegetation and full of twittering birds.

Then came the early 1980s, when the lake reached a historical high and its briny waters took out roads, causeways and buried the refuge. It killed all the sanctuary’s green-growing plants and took out the visitor center as a warning of Mother Nature’s fickleness. .

It took a long time for the refuge to recharge itself, a period in which Terry Tempest Williams wrote “Refuge,” a book published in 1991 that was written when Williams’ mother was dying. The book weaves the landscape of the refuge and nature into a tangled web with the author’s struggle to come to grips with her own life. A very good read, in case you’re interested.

Another common refuge inhabitant is the snowy egret. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Since both the refuge and I existed at that time in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains, the refuge drew me to it – often. I enjoyed its quiet sanctuary from the chaotic and stressful world of journalism, and also wrote about the refuge’s recovery for my newspaper readers.

I still vividly remember the first green-growing thing that returned. It was pickleweed, a salt loving plant that would help heal the soil for other plants. Those tiny nubs of green poking up seemed like a miracle.

Today, the refuge,is once again lush and a thriving habitat for birds and other wildlife. It’s there for anyone willing to endure a drive down a 10-mile, bumpy unpaved road from Interstate 15.

Maggie and I’ve driven the slow-going, rough miles several times in Gypsy Lee, who shakes, rattles and rolls over the bumpier spots. She’s used to such detours, however, and so far has not complained.

For those less passionate nature lovers, there is now a new Visitor’s Center just a few hundred yards off the freeway. It was built there instead of on the refuge proper just in case Mother Nature decided to get a wild hair again.

It’s really a nice center, with a created wetlands through which a boardwalk winds to give visitors a chance to see Mother Nature at her best. If you’re ever in Northern Utah, you might like to check it out. Perhaps you’d even like to take the 10-mile bumpy drive.

Bean’s Pat: Travel Photography: Most Unexpected Rainbow http://tinyurl.com/867pogm Have you ever seen a full rainbow? I haven’t. But this photographer did.

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“It is our task in our time and in our generation to hand down undiminished to those who come after us, as was handed down to us by those who went before, the natural wealth and beauty which is ours.” – John F. Kennedy

A Family of Tundra Swans

A family of Tundra Swans at Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Idaho. -- Photo by Pat Bean


Bean’s Pat: Chicks With Ticks: Stream of Consciousness http://tinyurl.com/6rkn8ss All about the chicks and their passion for Mother Nature’s wilder side. .

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 “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” – Albert Einstein

 Mesa Falls, Idaho

What better way to say hope than with a rainbow. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Bean’s Pat: Life in the Bogs: A Raptor Visitation http://tinyurl.com/7hk4jrm Great blog, great photos every day. But this inquiring mind wants to know if this is a Cooper’s or juvenile northern goshawk.

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 “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”–Neale Donald Walsch

Here’s How It All Began

Balcony House: Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. Not only have my travels taken me all across the country, they have also taken me back in time. -- Photo by Pat Bean

It was a sunny day in 2004, just three weeks before I would retire from a 37-year career as a journalist, when I drove a brand new RV off an Ogden, Utah, sales lot. It felt like the butterflies in my stomach had developed thorns on their fragile wings.

Everything that had been a part of my past life was about to change. I had just blocked off all chances of remaining rooted in my small, but cozy home that sat in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains I loved. There simply was not enough money in my future to both fulfill my lifelong dream of living and traveling on the road while maintaining fixed roots within a circle of friends that had taken over 20 years to acquire.

This day I had not only chosen the unknown road that lay ahead, but had wrapped my choice in cement. I had even traded in my Honda Odyssey as part payment for the undersized, 22-foot RV that was now my only form of transportation, and soon would be my only home.
By the time all the paper work giving me title to the 2004 Volkswagen Vista/Winnebago had been scrutinized, signed and finalized, it was early evening. I was too unsettled to take my purchase for a check-out spin. So, feeling tall and strange sitting behind the wheel with my new living, dining, sleeping, cooking and bathroom facilities behind me, I drove home. Emotional turmoil, good or bad, always sapped my energy.

When Maggie and I began our travels, her muzzle was still solid black. -- Photo by Pat Bean

On carefully pulling into my driveway, testing the wideness needed to turn my new RV, I heard frenzied barking from inside the house. It was how my dog, Maggie, reacted to the sound of strange vehicles invading her territory. She never barked when I returned home, nor did she at any of my frequent visitors. But she did not recognize this new vehicle.
When I opened the door, Maggie gave me a quizzical look of surprise. Then, realizing in a split second that something new was parked in the driveway, she dashed between my legs and ran out to explore.

I opened the RV’s side door and she eagerly hopped in. She slowly sniffed every surface she could get at, then finally hopped up onto the couch and gave me a look that I easily interpreted as: So where are we going? To explore America, the beautiful, I reply. I always answer my dog’s inquiring looks. .

And that’s how my travels with Maggie began. It’s been a journey that’s covered over 125,000 miles and heading into its eighth year.  I have nary a regret.

*This post was published today as part of Story Circle Network’s One Woman’s Day blog at: http://tinyurl.com/5tevft5  

Bean’s Pat: Birding on the Cheap: Rio Grande Valley http://tinyurl.com/riograndebirds Great birding blog with photos about a  place to escape for the winter.

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“If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

I found Estero Llano State Park in Welasco, Texas, the old-fashioned-way, with a map. I'm not sure how the anhinga found its way here. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

I was in Dallas, returning from taking my daughter to work so I could use her car for the day. All I had to do to get back home was follow the GPS map installed on the dashboard of her Toyota Highlander.

But I decided I wanted to get a different view of the map. Silly me. As I’m sure you have already guessed, I pressed the wrong button and lost everything on the screen — and couldn’t get it back.

Because I had depended solely on the GPS to get me from one place to the next, I was confusingly lost with morning rush-hour traffic zooming all around me.

I was fortunate that I eventually came to a landmark I recognized and, although it took an extra 40 minutes, I did eventually get back to my daughter’s house.

I then used a map, and my own handcrafted cheat-sheet of right and left turns, to complete the day’s errands and to find my place back to pick up my daughter from work later that day.

The truth is that I’ve had to be pulled, while screaming, into most technological changes. I was one of the last to finally get a cell phone, and it was only this past Christmas, and only because it was a gift from my son, that I got a “smart” phone.

On the other hand, I was one of the first to get a home computer. After using one at work to write my newspaper stories, I found using a typewriter for my personal writings impossible.

Without GPS, Monarch butterflies, like this one I found at Quintana Neotropic Bird Sanctuary on Texas' Gulf Coast, migrate annually between Mexico and Canada, although it may take three generations to complete the journey. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My first computer didn’t even have a hard drive. Everything ran from floppy disks. And the word-processing program on it came with a black screen and green type, or you could make the type orange.

Today, I can’t imagine life without my computer and the Internet. Such a thought sounds barbaric.

Ditto life without my Kindle, which was also a gift and which I’ve now had for a year. I thought I would miss the feel of a real book in my hand, but I haven’t. I think the fact I can be reading almost any book I want almost instantly is a miracle – well until I discover how much I’ve spent at Amazon each month.

I still haven’t got a GPS, however. My canine traveling companion, Maggie, and I still use maps, albeit it computer ones, to find our way across the country.  It seems a GPS might be as difficult for me to use as an electric can opener, which is why I still use a manual one. 

But I’ve got a Twitter account, maggieandpat. And when I announced it, my oldest granddaughter laughed and said: “Who would have thought it would take my Nana to make me get a Twitter account?” 

Her comment made this wandering/wondering old broad feel young – well at least until a pain in one of my joints announced a change in the weather.

Bean’s Pat: Vimeo: My Friend Maia by Julie Warr http://vimeo.com/31733784 A video to inspire all us old broads, and perhaps those still young among us, too.


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“What can you ever really know of other people’s souls – of their temptations, their opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands.” – C.S. Lewis

Journeys: Remembering My Youngest Brother

This piece of drawer sculpture I discovered at the St. Louis Museum of Art fascinated me. I think we humans are like these drawers, each different and each filled with different aspirations, dreams, prejudices, needs and likes and dislikes. -- Photo by Pat Bean,

Richard, my youngest brother, was born when I was 12 years old. It was a difficult time for our family, which consisted of an angry mother, a jovial father who spent and gambled his paycheck away before he came home on Friday nights, the newborn infant, six and seven-year-old brothers, and me.

We three oldest siblings had learned how to survive. We stayed out of the way and we were each straight A students. I married at 16 to escape, and my two oldest brothers became self-supporting at very young ages.

Richard, meanwhile, brought home a lot of Fs and barely got through school. He was a pretty boy with blond curls who never grew as tall as my 5-foot-five-inch frame.

Live oak trees toggle my imagination. Their trunks and limbs lean and curve all over the place, yet each tree, in its own special way, is perfect. -- Photo by Pat Bean

He always had to look up to me, and he did it in more than a physical way. As a youth, he spent summers with my family, fitting in quite nicely with my own children who were just a few years younger than him.

After high school, Richard joined the Air Force, but didn’t complete his years of committed duty. I don’t know the circumstances, but at some point I recognized that Richard was gay, and that he was an alcoholic. It wasn’t a good time to be gay, and the alcoholism made him foolish and put him in places where he often got beat up.

I picked him up from a hospital a couple of times, and once from jail, where he had been taken for public intoxication. He had been beaten up that time, too. Yet Richard was always pleasant and grateful to everyone who came his way.

He would often disappear, sometimes for a year at a time , before turning back up on my mother’s doorstep. By this time our father had died, and my mother was less angry, although she never failed to give Richard a good tongue-lashing for his failings. .

My brother never defended himself, or retaliated. I, a feisty child from birth, wondered how he stood it. Those tongue lashings had been the reason I had left home at such a young age.

After one final disappearance, Richard moved in with Mother, who at this point was living in a senior-citizen complex. The two of them actually lived a peaceful life for a couple of years, during which Richard kept a job at a fast-food place for longer than he had kept any job, and dutifully paid his portion of the rent.

No one, not even my mother, knew at this point that her son and my brother had contracted AIDS. Richard would never even admit to himself, I think, that he wasn’t heterosexual like the rest of us.

I didn’t find out that my brother had this devastating disease — which was before medical advances took AIDS from being a death-degree sentence — until he lay dying in a hospital. I wasn’t even in time to see him one last time. He was only 35 when he died.

So why, I was asked, do I believe  he was the best of us four siblings?

It’s simple. I never heard him say a single bad thing against anyone. And I never heard him make a single judgment against anyone. I know no other person of which I can say the same.

Bean’s Pat: The Laughing Housewife: I Hope Bella Remembered to Shave. http://tinyurl.com/89oaqhm I have never watched a “Twilight” TV episode or movie, but this blog had me laughing so loudly that I got a disdainful shushing look from my canine traveling companion, Maggie

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“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.” – Richard Wright

The Write Words

While I want my words to stand out like the red leaves on the tree I can see outside my RV window, too often I feel they read like one of the tiny green ones hiding in the background. It's call writer's angst. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Angst and doubt about one’s ability are part of a writer’s world, at least the ones I know. We worry that the words we put out to the world aren’t good enough. And unlike the carpenter who can redo the lopsided chair he built before anyone sits on it, we writers can’t take back our words once we’ve sent them out into the world.

This past week I wrote about Custer State Park, but in a photo caption written during a brain fart, I called it Custard State Park. I later corrected the error but not until after it had been sent out to over a 100 readers.

That kind of thing is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Self-doubt begins to seep into our psyches because we can’t write as well as Isabelle Allende or Maya Angelou; and our words fall short of a Pulitzer or an Agatha.

So why do we still do it?

I don’t know about other writers, but I suspect their reasons are the same as mine: Writing is as much a part of me as breathing; I simply can’t not write.

But some days the self-flagellation is more demanding than others in questioning if what we write is good enough.

An award that brightened my writing day.

I’ve been in that state lately, which made this morning’s recognition by a fellow writer, who gave me a “One Lovely Blog Award,” so meaningful. My writing spirit was warmly hugged by the compliment that accompanied the honor: “I cannot get over this woman and the beauty and peace she brings into my life through her photos and her posts,” http://tinyurl.com/6og645n 4amWriter wrote.

Knowing that perhaps I’ve touched one life has erased my writer’s angst – for today only of course.

As a way of passing along the award to other writers, beginning today, I’m going to put a post script to my daily blogs naming my choice for blog of the day. To make it fun, I’ll call it Bean’s Pat. I’ll award it to the blogger who either makes me laugh, cry, remember, think or be awed by beauty or nature.

Perhaps you’ll want to nominate some blogs you think deserve the honor. I’ll read them as I drink my morning two cups of cream-laced coffee.

Bean’s Pat: The Fairy Tale Asylum: So Many Names Hanging in the Dark …  http://tinyurl.com/7kfnz7q This emotional blog reminded me of my brother, Richard, who was the best of us four siblings. He died at the age of 35 of AIDS.

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 “Is life to short to be taking shit, or is life too short to be minding it.” – Violet Weingarten

South Dakota rainbow: Where's your focus, on the storm or on the rainbow? -- Photo by Pat Bean


Take your name, and describe yourself using its initials. That was this month’s writing prompt for the Story Circle Network writing circle of which I’m a member.

My response was:

P — Peace-loving, pedaling, passionate, pussy push-over
A — A personality, artsy-fartsy, anger-phobic, adventuress

T — Traveler, titterer, time-waster, tolerant

B — Boisterous, birder, book-lover, bra-less

E — Enthusiastic, eclectic, energized, escapee

A — Aries, adaptive, awesome old broad, animal lover

N — Nosy, nature-worshiper, not-normal, non-venomous

My responses, interestingly, weighted in on the positive side of my attributes, as did those of the circle’s other members. Many of us expressed amazement at how good it felt to look more closely at the positive side of ourselves – and we all wondered why we didn’t do it more.

The prompt was so much fun, and personally educational, that I thought I would pass it along. I’d be delighted if you would share your adjectives in comments to this blog.

Have fun!


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“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” Dalai Lama

A simple cowgirl full of joy, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, Fort Worth, Texas. — Photo by Pat Bean

Weekly Photo challenge: Simple

Live simply that others may simply live.” — Elizabeth Ann Seton

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 “What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” – Crowfoot saying.

Favorite Places

Author Bob Sanchez http://bobsanchez1.blogspot.com/commented that he

One of my favorite shots of an American bison is this one of the large animal taking a dust bath on Antelope Island, which is one of my favorite places. -- Photo by Pat Bean

liked yesterday’s photo of the bison mother and nursing calf that stopped traffic in South Dakota’s Custer State Park. As an aside he noted that since these lumbering creatures can be dangerous, he was glad I took the photo through the windshield of my RV, Gypsy Lee.

His cautionary words jogged one of my brain wires to replay, in vivid detail, an incident back in the 1970s that involved my then 10-year-old daughter, Trish. She, I and my son, Mike, were visiting Yellowstone, where we had stayed the night in the Old Faithful Inn.

Antelope Island bison with a view of the Wasatch Mountains on the far side of Great Salt Lake. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Antelope Island bison with a view of the Wasatch Mountains on the far side of Great Salt Lake. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Back then, there was a small cafe located adjacent to the Inn, where the three of us had breakfast. Trish finished first and asked if she could go outside and look around.

“Stay close,” I said in my mother’s voice.

When Mike and I went outside about 10 minutes later, my heart stopped. While Trish hadn’t gone far, she was standing beside a huge bison that had settled down on some warm sand – and was petting it.

Along with bison, chukars are easy to find on Antelope Island. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Thankfully her guardian angel was looking over her. Not only did she escape without harm from the wooly creature, her mother was too relived she was safe to punish her.

My travels the past seven years have often taken me in sight of these great animals that once roamed across North America’s grasslands in great herds before we humans killed them to the brink of extinction. Perhaps it’s because they were so rare for so long that many people today get so excited when they see one.

I was fortunate that before I retired and left Ogden, Utah, I saw them regularly on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake.

I used the island, which has a high claim on my long list of favorite North American places, as my Birding 101 Lab. That’s the thing about being a birder. If you’re looking for tiny things, you’ll never miss all the big ones.

*While we may call this creature a buffalo which I did in yesterday’s blog because it is a term everyone understands, the animal that is found in North America is a bison, an American bison to be specific.

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