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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

“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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“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” – Albert Einstein

            “An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” – Henry David Thoreau

Nothing is more enticing to me than a path -- or a road - that leads to a place unknown.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Nothing is more enticing to me than a path — or a road – that leads to a place unknown. — Photo by Pat Bean

My Answer is Laughter and a Walk

Soul Writing’s blog http://tinyurl.com/keqkm8e this morning asked “What are the two best cures for anything? Before reading more, I looked at my canine companion, Pepper, and said: Laughter and a walk.

And nothing excites me more than when whatever path I've chosen to walk turns up a surprise, like this great blue heron that I cam upon while following the above path at Brazos Bend State Park in Texas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And nothing excites me more than when whatever path I’ve chosen to walk turns up a surprise, like this great blue heron that I cam upon while following the above path at Brazos Bend State Park in Texas. — Photo by Pat Bean

At the sound of the latter word,  Pepper’s eyes sparkled, her tail waved and she jumped around in a way that made me thing she was laughing with joy. I think Pepper likes to laugh as much as I do.

So I took her for a walk before coming back and picking up reading where I had left off reading. I wanted to see how Soul Writing answered the question. I was 50 percent in agreement with the blogger. She thought laughter and sleep were the two best cures for anything. I don’t know what her third choice would be, but mine would be chocolate.

This wondering-wandering old broad would love to know how you would answer the question.

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

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

Bean’s Pat: List Making http://tinyurl.com/lcndr3p As a person who is a writer, one who daily makes lists – and talks to her dog as well – how could I not love this blog?

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Taking a Break

             “The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.” — Abe Lemons  

Bring it on world. I'm ready for you again.--Photo by T.C. Ornelas

Bring it on world. I’m ready for you again.–Photo by T.C. Ornelas

Or Not

I was the oldest, and had three brothers whom I often became the caretaker for.  I married quite young and soon had five kids to take care of. When the oldest was 11 and the youngest was two, I went to work full time as a journalist and added that to taking care of five kids.

But I will never be so busy that I forget to smell the flowers, or in this case, admire the ones created in glass by Dale Chihuly. == Photo by Pat Bean

But I will never be so busy that I forget to smell the flowers, or in this case, admire the ones created in glass by Dale Chihuly. == Photo by Pat Bean

It felt like I was on vacation when they all left home, and I only had a 50-hour-per-week job that I loved — and actually spent 24 hours a day thinking and dreaming about in my head.

In 2004, I retired, sold my home, bought a small RV, and spent the next nine years living in it and traveling this country, which pretty much kept both my body and mind occupied full time.

Last year I nested in Tucson, and began a schedule that included daily writing on a book, a job writing a travel blog for American Profile magazine three times a week, and a dog-walking business in my apartment complex for working pet owners.

At about the same time I finished the book, the magazine was bought out by a conglomerate and I lost my blogging job, leaving me with only my dog-walking gig, which I started to make sure this old broad gets plenty of daily exercise..

While I have dozens of writing projects in my head, and really could use the money they might generate, I’ve taken a break this past week, with the exception of daily walking Pepper and two other dogs.

I’ve read and read some more, watched all the Star Trek movies on Netflix, spent a whole day playing Settlers with a friend, ate too much, slept in and generally did nothing I considered worthwhile, not even writing this blog.

It was nice – for a while. But I realized, as I lay awake in bed last night, retirement is not for me. I’m ready to get back to the grindstone. It really is what makes me happy.

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

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

Bean’s Pat: Giggle of the Week http://tinyurl.com/k98m8g9 I’m still laughing.

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“The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity.” – George Carlin

I can identify birds but not too many butterflies, so if you know what species this is, please tell me.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

I can identify birds but not too many butterflies, so if you know what species this is, please tell me. — Photo by Pat Bean

Flying Flowers 

I’m always chasing butterflies, trying to capture their image with my camera. But chasing wasn’t necessary during my recent visit to the Desert Bontanical Gardens’ Butterfly Pavilion in Phoenix this past week.

Photo by Pat Bean

Photo by Pat Bean

I hope you enjoy these delicate creatures as much as I did.

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Photo by Pat Bean

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
~Irish Blessing

Just a bit of fun. -- Photo by Kris Gutnecht

Just a bit of fun. — Photo by Kris Gutnecht

 

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.
~Robert Frost, “Blue-Butterfly Day”

 

 

 

 

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Most people who ask for advice from others have already resolved to act as it pleases them.” – Khalil Gibran.

Of course when I hiked the benches of Mount Ogden in Utah, I wasn't exactly along. I always had Peaches or Maggie with me. Peaches would have torn the limbs off of anyone who tried to harm me. But, Maggie, who is shown here, would have been hiding behind me for protection.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Of course when I hiked the benches of Mount Ogden in Utah, I wasn’t exactly alone. I always had Peaches or Maggie with me. Peaches would have torn the limbs off of anyone who tried to harm me. But, Maggie, who is shown here, would have been hiding behind me for protection. — Photo by Pat Bean

It All Depends

This is a photo my daughter shot while riding alone in the desert. -- Photo by T.C. Ornelas

This is a photo my daughter shot while riding alone in the desert. — Photo by T.C. Ornelas

I’m not a fan of giving advice – or getting it for that matter. I cringe when all but my youngest daughter asks me for advice, especially in areas in which I’ve made mistakes – and that covers a about a jillion areas.

And the only reason I don’t mind giving my youngest daughter with neck problems advice is that I know she won’t take it. I guess she takes after me. I can’t think of hardly any advice given me that I didn’t distain in favor of the hard knocks of experiencing things for myself.

Besides, over the years, I’ve learned that sometimes good-intentioned advice is not in my best interests. The best example is the frequent advice I was always getting not to hike the benches around Ogden alone.

coyote

And this is one of the coyotes that have followed her. — Photo by T.C. Ornelas

If I had followed that advice, heeding the fears of others, I would have deprived myself of some of the most soul-filling moments of my 25 years of living in Northern Utah. Knowing this is what keeps me from telling my youngest daughter not to ride her horse along in the desert, where coyotes trail her path.

For some of us, having our alone time in nature, is absolutely necessary for maintaining sanity. It was for me when I had daily newspaper deadlines to meet. And my daughter is a working mother, who raised three daughters and is now raising three boys, including two teenagers among them.  Talk about needing to hold onto saneness.

I also didn’t follow the advice of all the financial gurus who told me how much money I needed to retire. Instead I’ve spent the past 10 years, nine of them  traveling – alone – full-time in an RV across this vast country, perfecting ways to get by on much less than the gurus claimed I needed.

Recently, I’ve been checking out advice for getting my book, Travels with Maggie, published. Advice for this seems to be just about around every corner — and in the tradition of writing advice, the various suggestions are often contradictory.

But this morning, I read the best piece of publishing advice I have come across since I started researching the issue. It was offered by Chuck Wendig, author of “Kiss –Ass Writer.” The first step, said Chuck, is “write something great.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better piece of advice, or one that I will try harder to follow.

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

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

Bean’s Pat:  Winter’s Heartbeat http://tinyurl.com/nxuqj55  This blog might actually make you not want to chase away the cold.

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”  Hunter S. Thompson

The first time I  rafted down the Grand Canyon, the Little Colorado River entrance to the mightier Colorado River was red and thick with mud from recent upstream rains. The second time it was crystal clean, and we floated in its current. I'm the middle blonde, and I was 60 when the photograph was taken.

The first time I rafted down the Grand Canyon, the Little Colorado River entrance to the mightier Colorado River was red and thick with mud from recent upstream rains. The second time it was crystal clean, and we floated in its current. I’m the middle blonde, and I was 60 when the photograph was taken.

A fantastic read.

A fantastic read.

 

Bookish Wednesday

A fairy tale begins with “Once upon a time.” And a river story with “No shit! There I was,” said outspoken journalist Linda Ellerbee in her essay about rafting down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

And there she was — on an adventure one summer taken by 14 other fantastic female writers. The 15 women ranged in age, and in lifestyles that went from city women who had never peed outdoors to athletic women who considered nature their true homes. They each wrote about the Grand Canyon from their own perspective, and about how the fickle river and the high rock walls affected and changed them.

Being a female writer who has been on this same adventure twice in my life – the last time as a birthday present to myself when I turned 60 – my soul triumphed with joy when I came across their book, “Writing Down the River (1998, Northland Publishing, photographed and produced by Kathleen Jo Ryan) in the public library.

Of course I checked it out. Reading the book these past few days has brought back many memories of 32 days, 16 for each trip, that rank high on my list of the best days of my life.

Among my own writings about my Grand Canyon trip was one about the canyon wren, which often serenaded us during our early mornings on the river.

Among my own writings about my Grand Canyon trip was a bird column about the canyon wren, which often serenaded us during our early mornings on the river.

The first time I went down the river, I paddled myself almost the entire 225 miles in a small raft. I came away from the experience a whole person, accepting both my strengths and my weaknesses.

The second time I let the boatman (she was female but she was still called a boatman) oar me down the river, an admission that time had come for me to slow down a bit and take more time to smell the flowers and watch the birds – but also that my adventuring days were still far from over.

I highly recommend this trip for all women who are at turning points in their lives – and if you can’t go, at least read the book. The words and photographs can’t help but touch your heart and make you stronger.  

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

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

  Bean/s Pat: Where Have All the Flowers Gone  http://tinyurl.com/l89g62e In honor of Pete Seeger and my generation of flower-child music.

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“Yes sir, I am a tortured man for all seasons, as they say, and I have powerful friends in high places. Birds sing where I walk, and children smile when they see me coming.” – Hunter S. Thompson

Metal bird sculpture at Tohono Chul Park in Tucson. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Metal bird sculpture at Tohono Chul Park in Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean

Fooled by the Eyes

            Searching for birds has its surprises. Sometimes what you think is a yellow-rumped warbler turns out just to be the profile of a

I like it that this bird was created from junked metal parts. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I like it that this bird was created from junked metal parts. — Photo by Pat Bean

quirky tree twig lit by a spit of sunlight, or a snowy egret turns out to be a white trash bag that someone carelessly tossed away, and which was blown up against some weeds by the wind.

I’ve seen leaf birds, shadow birds, bottle birds (a blue one floating on the water that from a far distance looked like a blue heron), stump birds and thousands of litter birds of flotsam,  jetsam and abandoned debris.

I thought about these non-birds during a recent stroll in Tucson’s Tohono Chul Park. Unlike all the litter birds I’ve seen, the park]s birds made me smile.

Are you smiling, too.

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

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

Bean’s Pat: The Currents of Life http://tinyurl.com/kenqp2u Just some things to ponder.

 

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            “You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.”  — Clay P. Bedford

Mount Lemmon from the Catalina Foothills. -- Wikimedia photo

Mount Lemmon from the Catalina Foothills. — Wikimedia photo

I Don’t Believe Curiosity Will Kill Me

          

Sara Plummer Lemmon -- Wikimedia photo

Sara Plummer Lemmon — Wikimedia photo

  Did you know that Mount Lemmon, the awesome 9,157-foot-tall mountain that has been my backyard landscape here in Tucson for the past year, is named after a woman?

I didn’t until this past week when I came across a plague on the Geology Wall at Tohono Chul Park.

After I got home, I did a bit of research on the mountain’s namesake, Sara Plummer Lemmon (1836-1923), and discovered that she was a botanist with several plants named in her honor.

Mount Lemmon was named for her because she was the first white woman to climb to its top, and along the way she discovered several plant varieties unique to the mountain.

While it's actually spelled a Spalding, it called a Spaldeen because that's how it is pronounced in the Bronx. Wikimedia photo

While it’s actually spelled a Spalding, it is called a Spaldeen because that’s how it is pronounced in the Bronx. Wikimedia photo

Do you know what a Spaldeen is? I didn’t until I came across the term in Annie Rachele Lanzillotto’s book, “L is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir,” which I’m currently reading. Great book, by the way.

A Spaldeen, I learned, is a pink rubber ball commonly used to play stickball in the Bronx.  How did I live to my age and not know that, I wondered?

Both these discoveries fulfilled my goal of learning something new each and every day. In my book, a day without learning something new lacks soul.

As Eartha Kitt once said, “I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.”

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

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

Bean’s Pat: The White Goose  http://tinyurl.com/ny5obkx Standing out in a crowd

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            “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.” – Regina Brett

One of the best things about taking Pepper for an early morning walk is getting to see the sun come up over the desert. -- Photo by Pat Bean

One of the best things about taking Pepper for an early morning walk is getting to see the sun come up over the desert — while the moon is still in the sky. — Photo by Pat Bean

That’s My Life

What Regina said is what I have to do, despite the fact I’ve been fighting a sinus infection. I’ve gotten up, dressed up (OK, so it was just a sweater over my pajamas at 6 a.m.) and walked my dog, Pepper, four times a day.  And I live in a third-floor walk-up.

But don’t get me wrong.  I’m actually thankful, because the task of doing this over the past year has gotten me in better shape than I was a year ago. That’s great news for someone who is pushing 75.

Every old-broad should have a dog to walk.

Bean’s Pat: Interesting Literature:  http://tinyurl.com/oqw3gsj More quotes. I like No. 9 best.

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