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Thinking About Chihuly

            “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso

From a distance, these looked like plants. Instead they are the welcoming art of Dale Chihuly the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. -- Photo by Pat Bean

From a distance, these looked like plants. Instead they are the welcoming art of Dale Chihuly to the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. — Photo by Pat Bean

And Realizing I’m not Like Him

I recently caught an exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s glass art at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. One word says it all. Fantastic!

Nor was this a celebratory stack of balloons. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Nor was this a celebratory stack of balloons. — Photo by Pat Bean

It was the second time I had seen Chihuly’s colorful glass creations in a foliage setting. The first was in 2006, when I was living and traveling full time in my small RV, Gypsy Lee. The setting then was the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, where Chihuly’s work represented everything from reeds and Mexican hats to herons and meteorite-looking balls plopped down among a bounty of foliage and brilliantly hued flowers.

When I later looked at the photos, I found I had mingled Chihuly’s art with the creations of nature so well that I sometimes had to stop and ask myself which was which.

That night, as I lay in bed awake, I pondered how a genius like Chihuly came to be – and the answer suddenly hit me: Single-minded focus and dedication, which I knew was something I lacked.

For almost as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a “great” writer, yet I was always finding excuses for not writing. I knew I lacked the focus of a Chihuly, or a Van Gogh, or even an old boyfriend who religiously practiced his guitar four hours a day, seven days a week.

Don't you just love the color yellow.

Don’t you just love the color yellow.

While in my youth, I flagellated myself for this lack, today I’m thankful for it.

My life has been richer for the fact that I didn’t give up riding roller coasters with my grandkids, arguing politics with my friends, discovering who my grownup children had become, exploring new hiking trails, white-water rafting with my river-rat buddies, mindlessly watching the sun rise and set, piddling with my watercolors, reading Harry Potter final book the day it came out, and sniffing every flower in life I came across.

Writing is a part of my life, and will always be, but it will never be my whole life.

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: The Why About This http://tinyurl.com/p7w7bll As an Old Broad who evolved from a barefoot and pregnant southern girl to an associate editor position at a 65,000 circulation newspaper, this blog has special meaning to me. And to this day, Helen Reddy’s first time out as a song writer continues to inspire me. I listen to it regularly, but loved this chance to see her perform it in person. I hope you will, too

Butterflies

“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”

 

 

 

 

Aging Is Not All Bad

Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature. — Thich Nhat Han

The beautiful saguaro cactus needs age to become beautiful and grow its arms. It's barely a couple of inches tall at the age of 10 and can be 40 years old before it spouts an arm.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

The beautiful saguaro cactus needs age to become beautiful and grow its arms. It’s barely a couple of inches tall at the age of 10 and can be 40 years old before it spouts an arm. — Photo by Pat Bean

In Fact, I Like Most of It

While I fight against it, and am still active, there’s no denying that age has taken its toll on me. I can no longer hike 20 miles in a day, once again captain my white-water raft as I did from the age of 40 to the age of 60, or carry a great-grandchild on my hip for hours as I did my own children.

Sunsets can be as spectacular as sunrises -- from a different perspective. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sunsets can be as spectacular as sunrises — from a different perspective. — Photo by Pat Bean

And then there are the little aches and pains as the body loses the glow of youth. The saying that “age isn’t for sissies” is so true it makes me laugh.

But age also has its rewards, ones that let me know I wouldn’t want to be young again. Young for me was full of insecurities, fears that someone wouldn’t like me, inner pressures to be perfect, doubts that I was good enough, and guilt for all the mistakes I made as a parent.

Being an old broad – and don’t call me elderly, I hate that term – having raised five children and being retired from a stressful 10-hour day job putting out a daily newspaper – has given me time to occasionally just sit on my balcony and reflect. Age, and a lifetime of doing, have let me truly come to know who I am.

And thankfully I like that person. I couldn’t say that when I was young.

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

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

Bean’s Pat: Soul Writings http://tinyurl.com/pmjfco7 To give credit where credit is due, this was the blog and quote that inspired my words today. The blogger posts often, but  the writing is always short and uplifting, and the photos that accompany it beautiful and thought-provoking.

Lost Time

            “Time has been transformed, and we have changed; it has advanced and set us in motion; it has unveiled its face, inspiring us with bewilderment and exhilaration.” – Khalil Gibran

Anybody else out there play Plants vs. Zombies? I played it a lot yesterday, and probably will again in a few months.

Anybody else out there play Plants vs. Zombies? I played it a lot yesterday, and probably will again in a few months.

            Where Did March 1 Go? It would be fun to respond: “Dude, I have no response to that” – which is a line from the corny, but fun movie, Joe vs. the Volcano.

I also participated in a couple of play money poker tournaments. My avatar is the cat.

I also participated in a couple of play money poker tournaments. My avatar is the cat.

But I do have a response. I played it away.

Despite all my good intentions to do something productive, I let my mind get erased by playing “Plants vs. Zombies,” Full Tilt Poker (in which, over time,  I’ve amassed almost $200,000 in play money), Spider Solitaire, Hearts and Mahjong. I went from one game to another, breaking only to walk Pepper, go to the bathroom  and eat.

The fact that that it rained all day here in Tucson yesterday made it the perfect setting for such a mindless day. So even when it was time to go to bed, I kept playing.

I also played many games of Spider Solitaire and Hearts, and a couple of games of Mahjong.

I also played many games of Spider Solitaire and Hearts, and a couple of games of Mahjong.

It’s kind of how, when I was a newspaper city editor, I would come home from work every few weeks and turn on the television and watch one dumb show after another until the wee hours of the morning.

Both the television watching, and now the game playing, have the effect of wiping my polluted brain clear of cobwebs, which gather over time as I fill my head with too many plans, too many ideas, too many ambitions and too much pondering.

I awoke this morning refreshed and ready to go about my daily activities with new vigor, The cobweb pondering, however, began anew with my questioning if  I’m the only one who needs a brain washing every now and then, and if not what mindless activity do others engage in for cleansing relief.

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

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

Bean’s Pat Sycamore in the Sun http://tinyurl.com/lo89cku I enjoy Steven Schwartzman’s blog “Portraits of Wildflowers” because I love putting names to plants. This particular one I enjoyed because near my apartment stands an Arizona sycamore, whose stateliness I enjoy every day. Steve, along with a nature guide for the area’s Sabino Canyon, helped me put a name to the tree

Bookish Tuesday

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.

OUCH!

            “”Any idiot can face a crisis – it is day to day living that wears you out.” – Anton Chekov

Bubba Bear: He's a survivor, and so am I.

Bubba Bear: He’s a survivor, and so am I.

Six Weeks of Daily Bandage Changes:    That’s what the doctor said I would have to endure when he cut a huge circle out of my left forearm the size of a watermelon. OK, I’m exaggerating, but the skinless flesh wound left behind is easily one a tennis ball could pass through if it went all the way through my arm.

The surgery was to remove a melanoma, which began as a brown spot many years ago/ At first, it just looked like a big freckle, but it started to change a couple of years ago.

A selfie of my bandaged arm.

A selfie of my bandaged arm.

My old doctor and the first one I had here in Tucson said it was nothing to worry about. But my new doctor here in Tucson took one look at it, and quickly did a biopsy. When the results came back, he immediately made an appointment for me with a specialist to get it removed.

I never suspected its removal would leave such a big indention.

The skin cancer specialist said the hole would heal without a skin graph, and if I opted for the graph, the process would leave a hole in my thigh to get the necessary skin.

Two holes instead of one. That didn’t sound like much fun, so I agreed to let it heal on its own. The open wound, however, was really gross.

I had help changing the bandages for a few days, then decided to fly solo. Now the bandage changing is simply part of my daily routine. Thankfully, the wound, which is now 10  days old, hasn’t been painful, only annoyingly uncomfortable.

A cattle egret with attitude -- my art of the day.

A cattle egret with attitude — my art of the day.

It’s also not quite as gross now. But I suspect, and the doctor agreed, that I will have a pretty good scar.

That’s OK. I’m an old broad survivor. And one of my daily images, as I sit in my living room chair drinking my morning coffee, is to look at the huge wall hanging of an old and scarred grizzly bear.

The bear is a piece of photographic art I bought in Park City, Utah, to celebrate my promotion to newspaper city editor back in the 1990s. I thought of the bear, which I dubbed Bubba, as a survivor, and used him as a daily role model before going to work each day to supervise a room full of feisty reporters.

Now I look at Bubba Bear and tell him I will survive six weeks of bandage changes, and have a scar as impressive as yours.

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

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

Bean’s Pat: Uprooted Magnolia http://tinyurl.com/ml34ba5 I love these jackrabbit photos.

My Favorite Pen

Want to be a writer, but don’t know how or when? Find a quiet place. Use a simple pen.” – Paul Simon

            “A pen is to me as a beak is to a hen.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

The cat did it. We don't have a cat. == Photo by Pat Bean

The cat did it. We don’t have a cat.– Photo by Pat Bean

And My Favorite Dog

            If one wants, one never has to buy a pen. Businesses give them away for free as advertising tools. And you can also buy them cheap, often for mere pennies if you get them in bulk.

A $4 chew toy.

A $4 chew toy.

But despite my penny-pinching ways, the pens I use cost about $4 each. It’s a Uni-Ball, Impact 207 gel pen, with a bold black point that glides effortlessly across the page. After getting by on free or accidentally stolen pens for years, I decided that as a writer I deserved better.

And once I had selected and used my pen of choice, I find it almost impossible to use any other kind of pen.

The problem these days is that Pepper likes my pens, too – and considers anything accidentally dropped on the floor hers.

Art of the Day: Cedar Waxwing

Art of the Day: Cedar Waxwing

And sometimes a pen may roll off my desk, or table, without my noticing it — although I’ve begun to suspect a little thieving on Pepper’s part might also take place, especially when I remember that I left my pen on the end table beside my living room chair.

As it’s also Pepper’s favorite chair, the temptation of my pen within such easy reach may be impossible for her to ignore.

I think that’s what happened to my last destroyed pen. Pepper should be thankful I love her as much as my pen.           

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

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

  Bean’s Pat: Flights of Wonder http://tinyurl.com/m7jkedd If you’re a birdwatcher, you will like this bog, and not just today’s post, which hints of spring. .

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