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Archive for the ‘Journeys’ Category

            I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself. – D. H. Lawrence

 Think Again

I suspect even a big old moose could feel sorry for itself if another male won its girl from him. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I suspect even a big old moose could feel sorry for itself if another male won its girl from him. — Photo by Pat Bean

            While I’ve always accepted, as fact, that animals have feelings and thoughts and can grieve, I might once have seen the above quote as simply inspirational. I mean I agree with its philosophy that we shouldn’t feel sorry for ourselves.

Pepper curls up into a ball, eyes drooping, giving every indication that she feels sorry for herself when she knows she's being left behind. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper curls up into a ball, eyes drooping, giving every indication that she feels sorry for herself when she knows she’s being left behind. — Photo by Pat Bean

But time, and my love and observation of animals, have convinced me that animals can, and do, sometimes feel sorry for themselves. Why not? They are, after all, intelligent beings, who clearly display emotions of joy and sadness.

I once had a dog that showed clear signs of depression after my cat, which had been her long-time companion, died. And my current canine companion, Pepper, clearly shows signs of feeling sorry for herself every time she knows she’s going to be left alone at home. As I go out the door, she slinks into a corner, droops her head, and stares, with her velvet brown eyes, accusingly at me.

Thankfully, she’s a dog and holds no grudges — which is more of a cat trait — and greets me with uninhibited joy when I return.

While I don’t know what Pepper does to console herself when she’s in a Pity-Pepper mode, I do know what I do when a Pity-Pat mood strikes me. I simply think of all the people in the world who would gladly trade places with me – and I realize just how many millions that would be.

Sometimes we simply need to rethink things – like D.H. Lawrence’s popular quote.            

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

  Bean Pat:  Janaline’s World Journey http://tinyurl.com/pskalcm I loved this delightful arm chair journey to visit the Temple of Ta Prohm, and now want to go back and watch Tomb Raider so I can view the scenes in which it was featured, just as I revisited the movie, Master and Commander, after visiting, in actuality, one of its filming sites in the Galapagos Islands. Since the world is so big, and my travels are limited by time and money, I’m thankful for being able to view some of them from my comfortable home. Thank you Janaline.

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“The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location.” – Flannery O’Connor

The large X Marks the Spot painting that hangs in my living room that was a gift to me from my artist friend Richard Sheppard.

The large X Marks the Spot painting that hangs in my living room, which was a gift to me from my artist friend Richard Sheppard.

A Silly Game

            My mornings begin by walking my canine companion, Pepper, and then returning to my apartment for a cup of bold, cream-laced coffee, during which time I plan my day by writing down everything I want to accomplish in my daily notebook.

A painting my Wassily Kandinsky, an artist whose work I love.

A painting my Wassily Kandinsky, an artist whose work I love.

The list is usually lengthy – and most certainly undoable. But, since I don’t suffer from OCD, I get pleasure in crossing out anything on the list that I do complete, and accepting that what’s left over makes a starting point for the next day.

Often, as I drink my coffee, I look up at a painting that was a gift to me from my friend Richard Sheppard. It’s titled X Marks the Spot.

My imagination asks me which X represents me this particular day.  Do I feel energized like a red X, happy or giddily like a yellow X, or strong and determined like a black X.? I know it’s silly, but it’s a game I’ve been playing for years.

This morning, as I drank my coffee and looked at the painting, I thought of the opening line of an Indiana Jones movie in which the professor said “X never marks the spot.” But of course it did.

Then I decided that my X for this day would be the biggest black one I could find. It would represent my determination to keep my newly created resolution to write three hours a day. I’ve learned that if I at least mark off this item on my long list, I will feel a sense of achievement that will put a big smile on my face.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pats: Spiced Memories http://tinyurl.com/n3vsf7v  and Wassily Kandinsky http://tinyurl.com/lx9ou9d I liked these two blogs because they sent me on a research mission to learn more. I checked out the photo on Spiced Memories, and found a creative spice commercial that was truly artsy-fartsy. And the second blog introduced me to an artist whose work has now made the list of my favorites, along with the paintings of Homer Winslow, Van Gogh and Emil Nolde’s colorful interpretations of life that goes on around us. The Internet is so much better than the encyclopedia volumes that my curious mind devoured before the world-wide-web became a daily part of my life.

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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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I feel like the past nine days have been like a storm on the horizon keeping me holed up inside of myself.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

I feel like the past nine days have been  a storm on the horizon that has kept me holed up inside of myself. — Photo by Pat Bean

So Many Questions, Only One Answer

            My goal for this year was to post three times a week. Mostly I met it, and even sometimes exceeded it. But it’s been nine days since I posted on this blog. Nine unproductive days in which I have done nothing that gave me a sense of achievement.

It feels good to have weathered that storm, and to once again be on the path I chose for myself. While I've thought about other paths, they aren't the ones that sustain me. -- Photo by Pat Bean

It feels good to have weathered that storm, and to once again be on the path I chose for myself. While I’ve thought about other paths, they aren’t the ones that sustain me. — Photo by Pat Bean

Now I’m asking myself why I keep on keeping on. Why do I continue to struggle to get my book, “Travels with Maggie,” published? Why do I continue to send out my travel articles and other essays to markets when I get more rejections than acceptances? Why do feel I must write every day?

I think about giving it all up, simply living this third trimester of my life lazing about. I would have to be quite frugal, but I’ve done that all my life. I long ago realized money is nice to have, but has nothing to do with happiness.

The truth is, my past nine days of lazing about morphed the happy person I’ve always been into someone I suddenly didn’t know, or particularly like.

Now, however, as I ponder these questions in the way I do best – with my fingers on my computer in front of a blank page – I find myself smiling. It feels amazing and wonderful to once again be the person I have come to know and love.

I guess that’s my answer to why I keep on keeping on.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: To Girls of all Age http://tinyurl.com/ld44qas I love this message. It touched my soul.

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            “And as imagination bodies forth

            The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen

            Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing

            A local habitation and a name. — William Shakespeare. A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Nothing helps my writing better than a morning in which I take a walk in time to see the sun come up. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Nothing helps my writing better than a morning in which I take a walk in time to see the sun come up. — Photo by Pat Bean

Perhaps You Are

“Just because I’m not writing doesn’t mean I’m not writing.” – Unknown

And when I take that walk with Pepper, I'm a lucky old broad indeed. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And when I take that walk with Pepper, I’m a lucky old broad indeed. — Photo by Pat Bean

I came across that quote when I was 10 years into my 37-year journalism career. From that point forward, it never strayed far from being in plain sight when I sat down at my computer.

While one is never going to become a writer unless he writes a heck of a lot, I think those who do write, do it even when they’re not doing it.

Perhaps only writers can understand this. But observing the features of the person sitting opposite you at Starbucks, and imagining how you would describe those features to readers, is writing. Recalling the full-bodied dream you had, and wondering if it could be a story, is writing. And staring out the window at the clouds and not thinking of anything is writing.

To write is to be observant of life as it plays out all around you. Putting what you see into words makes awesome sunsets and the aged wrinkles in an old woman’s face both seem real – and both seem beautiful. At least that’s the way it is for this writer.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Cape Point Hike http://tinyurl.com/mssarg7 I can never resist a scenic walk, and always enjoy when a writer takes me along with them.

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             “Building a better you is the first step to building a better America.” –Zig Ziglar

There's not much more American than Route 66. -- Photo by Pat Bean

There’s not much more American than Route 66. — Photo by Pat Bean

My Country – For Better and For Worse

Celebrating America -- Photo by Pat Bean

Celebrating America — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m not much for patriotism. It’s been the cause of too many wars. But almost every day, I wake up, and realize how thankful I am that I was born in this great country.

I weep, often and openly, for women born in countries where they are denied the same freedoms, the same opportunities, the same respect, as men. Not that many men in any country actually think women are their equals, but at least in this country we have the opportunity for careers of our choice, the right to vote, the right to hold public office and the right to go anywhere we dare alone.

It’s not always easy, and life is not always fair, but at least we have a chance. But that’s the same whatever the gender. But I cringe, thinking of what my great life today would be like if I had as few choices as some of my other-country sisters.

Thank you America. I love your purple mountains’ majesty and your amber waves of grain. And because I was free to travel this country as a lone female, I know your bounteous beauty.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Happy Fourth of July http://tinyurl.com/ly35ypq  Even if you’re a raccoon. Just a birdy way to get you to smile.

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             “You cry and you scream and you stomp your feet and you shout. You say, ‘You know what! I’m giving up, I don’t care.’ And then you go to bed and you wake up and it’s a brand new day, and you pick yourself back up again.” Nicole Scherzinger

While I may sketch an owl now and then, I'm no night owl. Just call me an early bird. -- Illustration by Pat Bean

While I may sketch an owl now and then, I’m no night owl. Just call me an early bird. — Illustration by Pat Bean

Morning is My Time of Day

            As soon as I opened my eyes this morning at my daughter’s house, where I’m animal-sitting while the she and her family are camping, I took my canine companion Pepper, and my daughter’s dogs, Tara the great Dane and Bobo the yellow lab, outside to do their business.  Then I fed the dogs; the two cats Rocky and Miss Kitty, the two fighting Siamese fish (If they have names, I don’t know them), then went outside to feed, water and fly-splay the horse, Hondo

That done, I came in and had a cup of cream-laced coffee, while reading the 127 e-mails waiting for my attention on my computer.  Next, I took a hot bath, luxuriating in a nice long soak while I mentally planned my day. When I realized it was the first of the month, I decided to drive back across town to my apartment so I could pay rent and check my mail, as I was expecting three books to judge for a contest.

I was half-way there when I glanced at the clock on the dashboard of my car. I expected it to be about 9 o’clock. But it wasn’t. It was only 6:37 a.m. Even this early riser was surprised.      

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Go where the trail takes you http://tinyurl.com/ojcmqbx I loved my four-wheel ride with Monica Devine on this trail. But then I’ve never been one to worry about my nails anyway.

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             “Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vase edifice of stone and space.” – Ansel Adams

Yosemite waterfall. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Yosemite waterfall. — Photo by Pat Bean

Happy Birthday Yosemite

            I woke this morning just after 5 o’clock. It was beautiful and cool outside, with nary a hint that today’s high here in the Sonoran Desert would top 100 by several degrees. So I decided to take my canine companion, Pepper, to the dog park for a romp.

The Grizzly Giant -- National Park Service photo

The Grizzly Giant — National Park Service photo

On the three-mile drive there, I listened to NPR on my car radio, and learned that Yosemite is celebrating its 150th birthday. As the story goes, a photo of “The Grizzly Giant,” a Sequoia tree that is as tall as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but with a greater lean, was shown to President Abe Lincoln.     Greatly impressed with the photos he saw, he took time out from the heartache and bloodshed of the Civil War to declare Yosemite Valley the first federally protected wilderness area.

I guess Old Abe was a tree hugger – just like me. That’s nice to know.

Bean Pat: You can read all about Yosemite’s birthday celebration here. http://tinyurl.com/ofh92d2

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            “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” – Herm Albright

Perhaps I also like to watch Survivor and American Ninja Warrior because I'm a bit of an adrenalin junkie who can imagine herself as one of the participants. Which is why it was such a thrill for me to go for a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti.

Perhaps I also like to watch Survivor and American Ninja Warrior because I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie who can imagine herself as one of the participants. Which is why it was such a thrill for me to go for a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti.

An Aha Moment

I don’t have a TV, which is fine with me. The few programs I want to watch (Survivor, Amazing Race and NCIS, primarily), I can get on my computer.

Thankfully, these days I can get just as much of an adrenalin high from simply watching birds and butterflies.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Thankfully, these days I can get just as much of an adrenalin high from simply watching birds and butterflies. — Photo by Pat Bean

But this past week, while I was house sitting three dogs, two cats and two fish, at my daughter’s house while she and her family went on vacation, I found myself plunked down much too often in front of their big-screen monster.

I was amazed at both how many channels they had, and how few programs – after my marathon NCIS day – on television that were worth watching. My channel surfing ended when I clicked on a program called American Ninja Warrior. Fortunately the actual program, and not the endless commercials, was showing or I would have just kept clicking.

I hate violence and would have assumed that this was what the show was all about. It wasn’t. It simply involved a very difficult obstacle course that hundreds of athletes were attempting to complete. More failed than made it.

But almost without exception, those who tried were cheered by all, even their opponents, and those who failed smiled and said, “I’ll be back next year.”

And with those last words, I finally understood my attraction to such television programs as Survivor, of which I’ve long been a fan despite it being a game that encourages lying and deceit as part of the game. It’s the contestants who pick themselves up and continue onward, even when there is little to no hope, that I find so compelling.

I love that attitude. It is one writers who get rejection slips – and believe me I’ve had a ton of them – must have to keep going.

Bean Pat:  Zoo Stroll http://tinyurl.com/ldnf7y2 Take an armchair stroll through Smithsonian National Zoological Park.

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“A book is a magical thing that lets you travel to far-away places without ever leaving your chair.” – Katrina Mayer

Yosemite's Half Dome, which Nevada Barr wrote about in "High Country."

Yosemite’s Half Dome, which Nevada Barr wrote about in “High Country.” — Photo by Pat Bean

When a Travel Book is Not about Travel

As a person with wanderlust in her soul, I find that on any list – and there are many – of the best travel books, I’ve read almost every one. And if I haven’t, give me a year and I usually will have.

Sara Peretsky's Chicago. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sara Peretsky’s Chicago. — Photo by Pat Bean

But this avid traveler has also discovered that a travel book isn’t always found on the travel book shelves. Two of my favorite authors, Nevada Barr and Sara Peretsky, write mysteries, which I love to read as much as I do travel books.

Barr’s character, Anna Pigeon, is a park ranger; and each of this author’s books increases my knowledge of one national park or another. Since I visit national parks as often as I can, reading Barr’s books has let me look at such parks as Yosemite, Guadalupe Mountains, Big Bend and Isle Royal through more knowledgeable eyes.

Peretsky’s character, V. I. Warshawski, meanwhile, gives me an insider’s look at Chicago.  What Sara has written about Chicago makes other travel books about the Windy City seem dull in comparison. Thankfully I get to visit Chicago more often than not because I have a son who lives there.

Isn’t it great when you can find two passions, like mine of reading mystery books and traveling,  that fit together so perfectly?

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Canoe Communications http://tinyurl.com/n9wvdx6  I loved this blog quote because it reminded me how connected we are to every living thing on this planet.

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