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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

             “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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             “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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Sassy Squirrels

“If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence.” – George Eliot

When I hear a squirrel chattering away in a tree, my first thought is what bird is that. But then the little gray cells chime in, informing me that it's a sassy squirrel. -- Photo by Pat Bean

When I hear a squirrel chattering away in a tree, my first thought is what bird is that? But then the little gray cells chime in, informing me that it’s a sassy squirrel. — Photo by Pat Bean

Scattergories

I love playing Scattergories, a game in which you are given a letter of the alphabet and a category — like an R and restaurants. If you came up with Red Robin, you would get two points for the double R.

So one time when the letter was S and the category animals, I wrote down sassy squirrels, but the other players wouldn’t allow it.

Now I ask you, have you ever seen a squirrel that wasn’t sassy?

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: The Pop Up Camper: http://tinyurl.com/kpqedtj Capturing memories, and doing it quite well. Memoir writers might truly enjoy reading this one.

            Bean Pat: Abandoned Resolution http://tinyurl.com/l3orww7 I simply can’t get enough of this blogger’s sassy art. It usually makes me laugh at myself, and that is one of the most freeing things in life.

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“We are all treading the vanishing road of a song in the air, the vanishing road of the spring flowers and the winter snows, the vanishing roads of the winds and the streams, the vanishing road of beloved faces.”   – Richard Le Gallienne

Find a stream and sit be it. Listen to the birds, glance at the sky, become one with yourself. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Find a stream and sit by it. Listen to the birds, glance at the sky, become one with yourself. — Photo by Pat Bean

Sit a Bit

” Everyone should sit by a stream, and listen, ” was a bit of advice I recently read.

I couldn’t agree more.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Wyoming breezes http://tinyurl.com/ndu87gh Everyone should also look to the sky … and simply breathe in the beauty.

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            “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” – Aristotle

Red-winged blackbird sketch I made after seeing this bird during an Antelope Island outing. -- Illustration by Pat Bean

Red-winged blackbird sketch I made after seeing this bird during an Antelope Island outing. — Illustration by Pat Bean

Puzzle Solved

            I didn’t become a passionate birdwatcher until 1999. Until then, while I enjoyed watching the winged miracles when I saw them, unless it was a cardinal, blue jay, mockingbird or a few other quite common species, I couldn’t name them.

Female red-winged blackbird. -- Wikimedia photo

Female red-winged blackbird. — Wikimedia photo

But when the birding passion hit me, I became obsessed with identifying any bird that came into view. So it was that I spent nearly an hour at Green River State Park north of Moab, Utah, one afternoon trying to identify the bird pictured in the photo on the right. There were more than a dozen of them flitting around the reedy edges of a small stream of water.

I went back and forth through my birding field book without success. Then a male red-winged blackbird flew past – and the light finally penetrated my little gray cells.

I finally knew I was looking at female red-winged blackbirds, whose gift of nature are feathers that camouflage the girls when they are sitting on eggs and raising chicks.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Photo Nature Blog http://tinyurl.com/nymzhmb   One of my favorite birds — and this is a great photo capture of a red-winged blackbird  in flight.            

Bean Pat: 47-million year-old bird fossil http://tinyurl.com/ncbdvtr I found this discovery fascinating.

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I was driving across West Texas before dawn last month, when the sun began to rise. I stopped on the side of the road to capture it. I drove on with renewed energy and a heart full of thankfulness. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I was driving across West Texas before dawn last month, when the sun began to rise. I stopped on the side of the road to capture it. I drove on with renewed energy and a heart full of thankfulness. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama

“A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.” – Henry Ward Beecher

Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.” – Mark Twain

These Are Mine

A Southern Idaho sunset.

A Southern Idaho sunset.

My online writing circle’s recent writing prompt was to write about what we considered necessities.

So after taking away air, food, clothing and shelter – which are really the true necessities – I came up with this list:

Sunrises to let me know I’ve survived another day.

Hugs from family and friends.

Interesting conversations from any and all.

Books to make me think or simply escape.

Time to myself to ponder and wonder.

Daily walks to keep my old limbs moving.

Hot baths to ease my old joints and make me feel like I live in luxury.

Art to bring out my creative side.

Travel to explore new places and to learn new things about myself.

Transportation to get from one place to another.

My canine companion, Pepper, to keep me from ever being lonely.

Daily writing, which is as important to me as daily breathing.

Sunsets so I know I’ve made it to the end of the day, and simply because of their wondrous beauty.

Sleep so I can enjoy all of the above.

So do you think I want too much? And what do you consider your necessities?

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Swimming with Green Sea Turtles http://tinyurl.com/kqqd4gp  I once swam with sea turtles, off Buck Island in the Caribbean. What great memories.

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“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.” — Edward P. Morgan

“The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.” — James Bryce

Seeing lions in Africa might have been the very first thing I put on my bucket list, thanks to reading Osa Johnson's lion watching stories. And in 2007, I crossed it off what over the years grew to hundreds of things I wanted to do. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Seeing lions in Africa might have been the very first thing I put on my bucket list, thanks to reading Osa Johnson’s lion watching stories. And in 2007, I crossed it off what over the years grew to hundreds of things I wanted to do. — Photo by Pat Bean

The First 10 Books That Popped Into My Head

I’m always coming across best book lists. While they often have many of the same books on them, they also can differ tremendously depending on the genre of the list or the compilers.

Gypsy Lee was my version of Charles Kuralt's "On the Road" RV, which now sits in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. -- Photo by Pat Bean.

Gypsy Lee was my version of Charles Kuralt’s “On the Road” RV, which now sits in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. — Photo by Pat Bean.

So on reading one of these lists recently, I decided to put together my own list of “10 Books that Influenced my Life.” I came up with the list in just a couple of minutes, and afterwards I could probably have listed another 10 books.

But here is the list of the first thoughts that scrambled through my little grey cells.

“I Married Adventure,” by Osa Johnson. This was the first travel book I ever read, and it gave me my first inkling that I was born with wanderlust in my soul. I checked the book out of the library, from the adult section, when I was about nine years old.

“Forever Amber,” by Kathleen Winsor. I found this book in the bookcase of my grandfather’s book cabinet, the same place I found the works of Shakespeare, Robert Louis Stevenson, James Fennimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, and many more of the classic writers, all of which I read at quite a young age. “Forever Amber” sticks out in my mind because when I reached junior high school,, I overheard a group of girls calling it a “dirty book.” I didn’t know what they meant so I went back and reread it – and still didn’t know what they meant. I was a late bloomer. The book, by the way, would almost get a G rating in today’s world. It was this book, however, that prompted me to never censor books my children read.

And reading about Tim Cahill's outdoor adventures encourage me to seek out my own adventure trails. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And reading about Tim Cahill’s outdoor adventures encourage me to seek out my own adventure trails. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Gone with the Wind,” by Margaret Mitchell. I so loved this book that I read it three times in the same year. Each read gave me a different meaning to the ending. It was this book that taught me that readers put their own interpretations to writing, and that there is more than one interpretation – and not always the one the author visualized.

“Blue Highways,” by William Least Heat Moon, the second most influential travel book I read. It was this author’s van travel that started my own travel dream, which I fulfilled when I spent 9 years living and traveling full-time in my small RV, Gypsy Lee.

“Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand, Wayne Dyer’s “Your Erroneous Zones,” and “The Women’s Room” by Marilyn French were read at a crucial turning point in my life. From one I learned that there was more than one way of looking at life, and came to the conclusion that the one and just about only true evil was to harm another person. From another, I realized that only I was responsible for my life and what I allowed in it, and from the third I accepted my strong feminine self that social expectations had dampened. As far as forming the core of my being, these three books are significantly responsible.

“The Snow Leopard,” by Peter Matthiessen. This is one of the books that fed my passion for the outdoors, travel and the natural world. It turned me on to environmentalism and gave me a new way of looking at things.

And “On the Road with Charles Kuralt,” and “Road Fever” by Tim Cahill helped define my travel writing style. I wanted to capture both the simplicity and joy of life that Kuralt brought to his writing and TV segments, and I identified with Cahill’s love of the outdoors and adventure and understood his understated sense of humor. I wanted to write like Cahilll, but with a feminine voice and eyes.

Just off the top of your head, what 10 books most influenced your life?

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Where’s My Backpack, http://tinyurl.com/lkxupke and Incidentally http://tinyurl.com/oyjp95f These two blogs let readers travel from their armchairs, a pastime I indulge in frequently when I’m not actually on the road. The first blog takes you on a walk through Rome, and the other lets you enjoy the beauty of stained class art if you are in the vicinity of Chicago.

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The view of the Catalina Mountains from my bedroom balcony. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The view of the Catalina Mountains from my bedroom balcony. — Photo by Pat Bean

   “Those fields of daisies we landed on, and dusty fields and desert stretches. Memories of many skies and earths beneath us – many days, many nights of stars.” – Anne Morrow Lindberg

How Amazing

            If you think of the desert as a dry, sterile patch of inhospitable landscape, think again. In the 16 months I’ve lived in it, I’ve found more beauty than I thought possible in a desert.

Admittedly, it’s the Sonoran Desert, which has also been called the lush desert because it has a monsoon season. But still I didn’t expect to come to love it as much as I have.

Patches of yellow on the landscape. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Patches of yellow on the landscape. — Photo by Pat Bean

I came to Tucson to spend Christmas 2012 with my daughter, and stayed, mainly because I found a dog-friendly apartment in the shadow of the Catalina Mountains that was exactly what I had been looking for when I ended my full-time living and traveling in  small RV.  Its location sang to me, and just as important it was a nice apartment I could afford.

My canine companion Pepper and I left it recently for almost three weeks – at heart I still love being on the road. And when I returned, as if by magic, summer had sneaked, or is that snuck, in. Tucson’s desert landscape does that while more northern states are just beginning to enjoy spring, or if truly northern still struggling with the remains of winter.

What I noticed first, when Pepper and I drove west on Highway 10 and turned north on Alvernon Road was that the landscape, patches of which still remain in the city, was decked out with yellow trimmings. I found it both beautiful and enchanting.

What a fantastic homecoming. Don’t you agree?

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Live to Write – Write to Live http://tinyurl.com/ny8487f  The Hero’s Journey: This blog taught me something about writing, and made me laugh, too. But don’t read it if you don’t want the plot and ending of the movie “Gravity” spoiled for you

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“No one knows what causes an outer landscape to become an inner one.” – Margaret Atwood

The drive between Dallas and Austin is filled with roadside bluebonnets right now. Get out and go see them. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The drive between Dallas and Austin is filled with roadside bluebonnets right now. Get out and go see them. — Photo by Pat Bean

Catch ‘em While You Can

I drove from Dallas to Austin this past Thursday to attend the Story Circle Network’s Stories from the Heart memoir conference. The bluebonnets alongside the road on my I-35 and toll road 130 route were magnificent.

 

Up close and personal with Texas' state flower.

Up close and personal with Texas’ state flower.

On Sunday, after a fantastic few days of association with like-minded writer women, I made the return trip — and the bluebonnets were even more abundant and just as magnificent.

How could anyone not like bluebonnets?

They were named bluebonnets because someone thought they looked like the bonnets worn by pioneer women.

Texas’ singing cowboy “Pappy” O’Daniel, who became governor of the state when I was 2 years old, sang: “you may be on the plains or the mountains or down where the sea breezes blow, but bluebonnets are one of the prime factors that make the state the most beautiful land that we know.”

The Indian paintbrush blossoms along side Texas highways aren't too shabby either. --  Photo by Pat Bean

The Indian paintbrush blossoms along side Texas highways aren’t too shabby either. — Photo by Pat Bean

Did you catch that Texas pride there? I have to admit it’s something I share.

If you were a native Texan, like me, and saw the fields of bluebonnets I’ve seen this past week, you would understand. .

This is a really good year for bluebonnets, which require special conditions of rain, sun and cold, to bloom at their best. But the fields of blue are short-lived.

So if you can, catch them soon.

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Not Yet There http://tinyurl.com/k243py5 This is one of my favorite bloggers, and this month Red Jim is writing poetry daily because it’s National Poetry Month.

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The New Language

“Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands, and goes to work.” – Carl Sandburg

Daily doodling. -- without typos.  -- Illustration by Pat Bean

Daily doodling. — without typos. — Illustration by Pat Bean

I’m Belly-Laughing, Not LOLing

            I must admit that the texting- twittering new language often leaves me befuddled. I mean take LOL, which I assume means laughing-out-loud and is the easiest of the acronym-craze to understand .But LOL could mean many other things, like living out loud, loving only lions, or liars often lie.

I would much rather be birding here than proofreading. Wouldn't you?

I would much rather be birding here than proofreading. Wouldn’t you?

OK! I’m being facetious. But then I just had this conversation, over coffee with a friend who is outraged about all the grammatical mistakes and typos found in today’s printed words, so much so that she can’t continue reading when she comes across a misused word.

Thankfully, she doesn’t own a computer, because when I reread my own posted blog, I often discover one or more of those overlooked verbiage gremlins. Like the rest of the writing world, I need a proofreader, a career that mostly disappeared with the ascension of technology. These days, writers have to be their own proofreaders.

Since I read for content, I can easily overlook an occasional grammatical error, well unless they’re many and truly a sign of sloppiness. Good writing is what is important to me.

Meanwhile, I’m currently trying to catch all those misused-misspelled-typo gremlins in my recently finished book, “Travels with Maggie,” before it gets published. I don’t want someone to stop reading because they found a grammatical error or a typo. It’s very hard work for someone who is a writer — and not a proof reader.

Oh, by the way, I never use LOL when I really mean belly laughing. I guess that’s because my brain was formed long before the days of texting and twittering.

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Interesting Literature http://tinyurl.com/nhhsob4 Just because it’s April Fool’s Day

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