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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” Oprah Winfrey

My friend Kim sent me this recently on my Facebook timeline. Oh how I wish I could. -- Unknown source

My friend Kim sent me this recently on my Facebook timeline. Oh how I wish I could. — Unknown source

My Female Soul Mates

While I have no biological sisters, I am blessed to have women friends who fill the lack.

First there is Kim, the one who personally knows all the skeletons in my closet, and with whom I’ve shared many an outdoor adventure. We met as work colleagues who had nothing in common. It took a few after work drinks and a crazy, wild rafting trip for us to bond, but then it was us against the world.

Some of my writing sisters during the recent Story Circle Network. -- Smart Phone photo taken by another sister.

Some of my writing sisters during the recent Story Circle Network. — Smart Phone photo taken by another sister.

While I never seemed to choose a male who completed me, Kim was the perfect fit for all my flaws. We’re as different as lemons and chocolate, and each of our strengths cover the other’s flaws.

It was she who sent me the above poster, and if I lived closer now than 800 miles from her, you better believe I would have taken her up on the request. Instead I’m just remembering such escapes as getting lost in Nine Mile Canyon, coming eyeball to eyeball with an elephant, conquering Lunch Counter Rapid in high water, and making it to the top of Angel’s Landing during a snowstorm.

Then there is my friend, Kris, whom I met and played with during the two years I lived in Twin Falls. She and I sometimes go five years between visits, but easily pick up right where we left off when we do get together.

And in recent years, I have found online sisters who share my writing passion through Story Circle Network. I recently got to get together with them in Austin.

Could I be any more blessed?

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

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

Bean Pat: Indian Wells Canyon http://tinyurl.com/qby2ped Texas has her bluebonnets, but awesome wildflowers at this time of year are not confined to the Lone Star state. Thanks to this blogger I get to see some of them.

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Lake Powell, the setting for Nevada Barr's "The Rope," and one of my favorite places. -- Photo by Pat Bean.

Lake Powell, the setting for Nevada Barr’s “The Rope,” and one of my favorite places. — Photo by Pat Bean.

            “Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don’t let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.” – R. I. Fitzhenry

“The Rope”

I love Nevada Barr’s books. Not only is she a good writer, but I always learn something new about the places I love, this country’s wild lands  and our national parks.

Lone Rock at Lake Powell: I camped in sight of this rock on a Lake Powell beach the first night of my RV travels back in 20004. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Lone Rock at Lake Powell: I camped in sight of this rock on a Lake Powell beach the first night of my RV travels back in 20004. — Photo by Pat Bean

Her books have taken me from Texas’ Guadalupe Mountains to the South’s Natchez Trace, and from Yosemite’s high country to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty – and lots of other places in between.

But Nevada’s writing has a dark side to it. You can expect, at least somewhere in the book, to find her leading lady  in a deadly place that leaves her body ravished to the near point of death. The scenes fit her fictional character, Anna Pigeon, who is on the opposite side of the planet from Janet Evanovich’s  fun-loving Stephanie Plum.

While Stephanie’s biggest nemesis is a mother who wants her to settle down and get married and a grandma who gets her kicks at funerals, Anna fights against lost love, alcoholism and depression.

I can read Janet’s books in a day, but Nevada’s get stretched out over many days because I have to stop for a while so I won’t get too caught up in the tension.

Take last night for example, when I settled down with an audible version of Nevada’s “The Rope,” a flashback novel that explains Anna’s National Park Service career beginnings. It starts off very dark. And when I put the book down and fell asleep, I also fell into a nightmare – which thankfully I awoke from before it got too scary.

Wahweap Marina at Lake Powell. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Wahweap Marina at Lake Powell. — Photo by Pat Bean

I admonished myself to stop it, then went back to sleep and had a crazy dream in which I was treated royally at a funky party by a gray-haired, but handsome, Arabian man.  It was definitely more inspired by Stephanie than Anna.

This morning, I listened to a bit more of  “The Rope,” because of course I have to know how Anna gets out of her hole – and because I love reading about Lake Powell, the setting for the book. I’ll eventually finish the book, but I doubt I will take it to bed with me again.

My nighttime mystery reading from now on will be cozies, where there’s more mystery than blood. Even Anna, in her thoughts about her seemingly inescapable situation in the opening of “The Rope,” decided she was living a Stephen King novel.

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

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

Bean’s Pat: Mystery Fanfare http://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/ This is a good blog to follow if you like mystery books.

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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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“A serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.” – Ernest Hemingway.

This is Gandolf, a great horned owl that my son, Lewis, and I discovered on the side of a road on the Texas Gulf Coast. He was in shock, probably after being struck by a passing vehicle. My son and I suspected. We got him to a wildlife rehabilitator, who dubbed him Gandolf. Three weeks later he was well and released back into the wild. -- Photo by Pat Bean.

This is Gandolf, a great horned owl that my son, Lewis, and I discovered on the side of a road on the Texas Gulf Coast. He was in shock, probably after being struck by a passing vehicle, my son and I suspected. We got him to a wildlife rehabilitator, who dubbed him Gandolf. Three weeks later he was well and released back into the wild. — Photo by Pat Bean.

A Great Horned Owl, That’s Who

            I’m not sure I understand Hemingway’s words. But they’re fun to ponder.

I made this card for a grandson's graduation. It tickles my fancy.

I made this card for a grandson’s graduation. I guess I have owls on the brain, but they tickle my fancy.

Just as it’s been fun to ponder  the great horned owl, whose  hooting has been taunting me awake each morning, and serenading me to sleep each night, for the past two weeks.

The hooter has annoyingly been avoiding my sight, but I finally caught a glimpse of it two days ago from my third-floor balcony window. The owl was sitting, just above my eye level, in a tree about 30 feet away.

Then, early yesterday morning, as I was once again looking for the owner of the hoots coming from the trees, a great horned owl flew directly over my head, wings stretched out like a sheltering canvas. It was big, and it landed on the roof top of an adjacent apartment building.

And this is one of my great horned owl doodles. I did it from memory after the Gandolf incident.

And this is one of my great horned owl doodles. I did it from memory after the Gandolf incident.

Pepper, whom I was walking at the time, and I wandered closer, and the owl briefly looked down on us with its great golden eyes. I was mesmerized, but glad that my canine companion was standing close. This was a mighty big owl, much larger, I realized than the one that I had seen a few days before from my balcony.

A surge of joy, like a big yippee, went through my bones. I suspected my apartment complex was now home to a mating pair of owls. The one I was looking at had to be the female, who is always larger than her male mate.

The big owl didn’t linger, but quickly disappeared beyond the roof line, leaving me pondering where her nest was, and did it already contain eggs. I’m sure I’ll be looking for it every time Pepper and I go walking during February.

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

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

Bean’s Pat: Texas Tweeties http://tinyurl.com/mgovo9e Bringing home dinner. Bob’s one of my favorite bloggers. I’ve been privileged to see an osprey spring from the Snake River, and from a couple of lakes, with a fish in its talons, but it’s a sight worth seeing over and over again.

 

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  “Without mysteries, life would be dull indeed. What would be left to strive for if everything were known?”  — Charles de Lint

Can you identify this bird. Or will it remain a mystery.

Can you identify this bird? Or will it remain a mystery?

Which Is Why I Enjoy Bird Watching

“My detective story begins brightly, with a fat lady found dead in her bath with nothing on but her pince-nez. Now why did she wear a pince-nez in her bath? If you can guess, you will be in a position to lay hands upon the murderer, but he’s a very cool and cunning fellow…” – wrote Dorothy Sayers as she plotted her first Lord Peter Wimsey mystery in the early 1920s.

Cover of Are Women Human?, which contains two of Sayers' feminist essays. -- Wikimedia

Cover of Are Women Human?, which contains two of Sayers’ feminist essays. — Wikimedia

When the book, “Whose Body” came out in 1923, the naked victim was male, but the pince-nez clue was still there. Many Lord Peter Wimsey books followed. I think I’ve read them all.

Along with writing the Wimsey mysteries, which like Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple books, continue to be popular today, Sayers was a poet, playwright and advertising writer.

One of the latter efforts included a toucan jingle for Guinness Beer: “If he can say as you can. Guinness is good for you. How grand to be a Toucan. Just think what Toucan do?”

This same kind of humor continues in the Wimsey mysteries, which is consistent with the character’s name-play on the word whimsy.

DVDs of some of the Lord Wimsey films I checked out of the library get the credit for this blog idea.

DVDs of some of the Lord Wimsey films I checked out of the library get the credit for this blog idea.

The joy of reading Dorothy Sayers’ mysteries for me is that it is all about figuring out whodunit before the killer is revealed.

It’s sort of the same with bird watching. You have to read all the clues – profile, coloring, beak size, and a jillion other field marks – if you want to make an identification before the bird flies away.

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

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

Bean’s Pat: She’s a Maineaic  http://tinyurl.com/psgwdqx Einstein said what about anger?

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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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Yesterday's use of paper included adding a kestrel painting to my sketchbook, writing down dates to remember in my diary calendar, which is full of paintings and quotes, and writing in my to-do journal, which includes a hodgepodge of notes and ideas to myself. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Yesterday’s use of paper included adding a kestrel painting to my sketchbook, writing down dates to remember in my diary calendar, which is full of paintings and quotes, and writing in my to-do journal, which includes a hodgepodge of notes and ideas to myself. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with meaning.” – Maya Angelou

I’m So Sorry My Beloved Trees

            I love paper, crisp new pages in a book, cold pressed and textured artist sheets, fanciful stationary, designer pages for my scrapbooking and even the thick block of white for my printer.

But I especially love the blank pages that fill new journals, even more so when their artistic creators have filled bits and pieces of the pages with fairies, flowers, dragons or animal images, and even more when they have left words behind to tickle my little gray cells.

Like these words, which I came across yesterday:  “Let’s talk about mountains. You start climbing one, you toil, you sweat, you finally reach the top, and what do you get? Well, along with a sense of accomplishment, of peace, of a job well done, along with the satisfaction of doing what you set out to do … you get a great view of the next mountain. Looming, Challenging, Calling your name.”  These words were left me behind to ponder from the journal creators, Mark Sanders and Tia Sillers –  And ponder I did.

I wonder if the spirits of trees like this beauty in Brazos Bend State Park in Texas are infused into the paper I touch and use daily.

I wonder if the spirits of trees, like this beauty in Brazos Bend State Park in Texas, are infused into the paper I touch and use daily.

These days, I usually have several journals going at once, the most used being a daily journal in which I write to-do lists (Things I want to keep from this journal get rewritten into my computer journal, which I began several years ago to preserve my writing fingers from cramping),  and  a  journal that I keep beside me when I read, and use to write down quotes and a mishmash of thoughts and ideas.

Even though I love computer journaling, which these days includes this blog, I can’t imagine a day without putting my hands on real paper. It’s an oxymoron for me, because I also love trees. Sometimes I wonder about the origin of the paper I write on, and almost feel the trees talking to me. I hope they forgive me.

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

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

Bean’s Pat: The Blood-Red Pencil http://tinyurl.com/lm2k2pg This is for all the writers who have procrastinated until the deadline monster is close enough to bite off our noses.

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            “Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.” Roger Miller

Morning comes to Tucson's Catalina Mountains. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Morning comes to Tucson’s Catalina Mountains. — Photo by Pat Bean

Morning Walk with Pepper

            It was that magical moment before dawn when Pepper and I stepped out for this morning’s walk.

The landscape was all hues of gray, with a stillness over it that spoke louder than words, like the reflections on a lake bereft of a breeze,

I hadn’t heard it, but rain had fallen during the night. The uneven walk and grounds still held puddles that the desert’s dry air had not yet sucked away, or the land claimed for its own. Best of all there was the green smell of trees washed clean of dust, and an earthen spice that wafted up from the ground. No man-made perfume could ever smell as sweet.

The scents intrigued Pepper, whose furry black nose searched everywhere. I simply breathed in Mother Nature’s bounty and felt blessed, and my soul rejoiced that I was a writer. Although words could never fully capture and expel all that I felt during my short morning walk with a beloved canine companion, they were there in my head. And I knew I had to write them down and share.

And now that I’ve done just that, I’ll go have my morning cup of coffee.

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

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

Bean’s Pat: Take an armchair walk in France http://tinyurl.com/mfjc37m While the architectural details of the palaces are magnificent, the walk through the trees is what drew me into this blog.

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The Pain of Living

            “Find a place inside where there is joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” – Joseph Campbell

Life is full of rainbows, and life is full of storms. The first without the second wouldn't be as sweet. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Life is full of rainbows, and life is full of storms. The first without the second wouldn’t be as sweet. — Photo by Pat Bean

You Can’t Escape 

            I’ve been reading books for a female memoir writing contest. Several of them deal with surviving the pain of losing loved ones – and most of these books left me feeling a bit cynical. Everyone who lives to a ripe age loses loved ones. It’s part of life’s journey.

If we're lucky we get to smell the flowers along the way. -- Photo by Pat Bean

If we’re lucky we get to smell the flowers along the way. — Photo by Pat Bean

Sure it hurts. I’m still hurting from the loss of my mother, and I can only imagine the pain I will have to live through if one of my children dies before I do. That’s not the order in which life is supposed to be lived.

But why, I asked myself, did some of these authors act like their suffering was the only loss in the world? Get over it, I wanted to tell them.

But one of the memoirs involving death got to me. It was written by a woman whose activities included research involving hospice patients nearing death. She spent time with these people, recording their feelings and coming to care for them.

The researcher became especially close to one woman on the verge of death. This was a woman who had lived a hard street life, and admitted stealing, lying and prostituting herself to get the drugs she craved. “I cared for nobody else but myself,” she related.

And occasionally simply have time to sit and let the world go by. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And occasionally simply have time to sit and let the world go by. — Photo by Pat Bean

Before this woman died, the researcher herself found herself with cancer, and facing possible death.  The news upset the former drug addict so much that she bullied her hospice attendants into transporting her in a wheelchair to the researcher’s side in a hospital.

When the researcher apologized for causing the dying woman pain, the woman thanked her instead.

“For the first time, I know what it feels like to care about someone besides myself. It makes me feel alive in a way that I never did before,” she told the researcher

These words caused tears to flow from my eyes. I, too, in a moment of sorrow had once been grateful for pain. While it was a love that was rejected that had given me the pain, it was this same pain that let me know I still had the capacity to love.

In my book, that was treasured knowledge.

Bean’s Pat: Grateful for one more day http://tinyurl.com/kcnd7fa And hopeful for many more

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Oops! I think I turned wrong somewhere. == Photo by Pat Bean

Oops! I think I turned wrong somewhere. — Photo by Pat Bean

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to reach my destination.”  — Jimmy Dean

Should I Turn South — Or West?

Have you ever felt that you knew exactly where you were going, and then suddenly discovered you were headed in the wrong direction?

Should I hike the high trail or the low trail? Perhaps I should do both. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Should I hike the high trail or the low trail? Perhaps I should do both. — Photo by Pat Bean

This happens to me a lot. And I’m not  talking about making a wrong turn when traveling down the road – although I certainly do that a lot, too.

Life has taken me down many paths, some not so pretty, but all educational. Some paths presented themselves because of decisions I made – or didn’t make, which in itself is a decision. Some were made for me because I let someone else lead.

Today, the only person who takes the lead away from me is my canine companion, Pepper – when I take her for a walk. So I have no one to blame for where I end up than myself.

But lately, I’ve not been quite so sure that I’ve been heading in the right direction, although there is certainly nothing wrong with the path I’m on. Perhaps it’s just because life has taught me that the more paths I explore, the more I enjoy life.

I guess I’m one of those people who believe Ursula K. Le Guin’s quote – which is permanently on my blog site — “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters.”

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

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

Bean’s Pat: Life in Edit Mode http://tinyurl.com/kk6hmhz I laughed at the cartoon, and am now thinking, as I’m at the final rewriting process of Travel with Maggie, which has come down to the nitty-gritty dotting of every I and crossing of every T, that I need just such a muse.

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