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Ugly Furniture

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose.” – Arthur Conan Doyle

Be it a string of berries or a colorful sunrise, Mother Nature always has beauty to share. -- Photo by Pat Bean.

Be it a string of berries or a colorful sunrise, Mother Nature always has beauty to share. — Photo by Pat Bean.

But I Didn’t Complain

            One of the things I told myself, when getting rid of all my furniture and stuff in preparation for living in a small RV so I could fulfill my lifetime travel dreams, was that when I finally settled down again, I would have the fun of decorating my new home from scratch.

I love this photo of my and my daughter, Deborah, taken when she was only five days old -- but not the chair I'm sitting in.

I love this photo of me and my daughter, Deborah, taken when she was only five days old — but not the chair I’m sitting in.

And that’s exactly what I did nine years later, nine years in which I learned that I didn’t need much “stuff,” because I had no room for it. My new goal was not to bring a single item of furniture into my newly rented small apartment unless I absolutely loved it.

I thought about that the other day when I came across a picture of me holding my precious first child when she was only five days old. In the past, all I’ve seen when I looked at this valued photo was a too-young-mother, who was coming to realize she had married the wrong man, a fact she wouldn’t undo for four more babies and another 21 years.

This time, however, I noticed the chair I was sitting in for the picture. That set off a string of different memories.

 

Everything is light and bright, with lots of red, in the nest I've created for myself since giving up the RV life. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Everything is light and bright, with lots of red, in the nest I’ve created for myself since giving up the RV life. — Photo by Pat Bean

Three weeks before my baby was due, my husband had found a new job that would require us to move from Houston to Lake Jackson, 50 miles south on the Texas Gulf Coast. His parents had arrived from Dallas to help us move, but that same night I went into labor. By morning, I was holding my daughter in my arms. We were going to name her Debra Leigh, and I had spelled it out for my husband. Instead,  he signed her birth certificate and named her Deborah Lee.

Then, while I remained in the hospital in Houston, he and his parents moved the few belongings from our furnished Houston apartment to an unfurnished apartment in Lake Jackson. The three of them then went shopping. and bought brand new living room, dining room and bedroom furniture.

I almost cried when I finally saw the furniture, especially the couch and chair, which were a drab, grayish brown plaid that already looked old. But in those days, I kept my feelings to myself. The dinette set was gray with gray plastic covered aluminum chairs, and the bedroom set a plain, pale blonde without any distinguishing features.

I had to live with that furniture for years. But I never complained. I think the latter is the sad part.

Bean Pat:  A little tune http://tinyurl.com/lwg37fc Just a cheerful photo to cheer your day. Mother Nature is so awesome. I hope you always have time to enjoy her. It was her beauty that helped sustain me when I had little beauty to enjoy behind walls.

Labor Day Weekend

“Weekends don’t count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless.”  — Bill Watterson

Not What I Had Planned

This is Bobo. He misses his family most of all the animals. He usually finds a place near me and just mopes. He's old, too. Zip is my daughter's youngest dog, and he keeps Pepper exercised. He and she usually run around the horse arena while I'm feeding and watering the horses. My daughter's husband is his favorite pet.

This is Bobo. He misses his family most of all the animals. He usually finds a place near me and just mopes. He’s old, too. Zip is my daughter’s youngest dog, and he keeps Pepper exercised. He and she usually run around the horse arena while I’m feeding and watering Hondo. My daughter’s husband is Bobo’s favorite pet.

My Tucson daughter and her family headed up to Rose Lake high up on Mount Lemmon for the Labor Day weekend. They took both their SUV and truck, with both crammed as full as a VW Beetle holding a mob of college students.

This is Tara. She's long past the average age of a great Dane, but still, despite her growing infirmities, is full of joy. Age, however, has shortened her bladder control. So it was that three or four times a night I would feel her cold nose on my sleeping face, requesting that I get her up and let her outside. Of course I did. She often would also stand in front of me to lt me know that she wanted the blanked on her bed straightened. And iif I didn't immediately comply, she would lay her head on my lap and drool all over me. It's a good think I love her.

This is Tara. She’s long past the average age of a great Dane, but still, despite her growing infirmities, is full of joy. Age, however, has shortened her bladder control. So it was that three or four times a night I would feel her cold nose on my sleeping face, requesting that I get up and let her outside. Of course I did. She often would also stand in front of me to lt me know that she wanted the blanket on her bed straightened. And iif I didn’t immediately comply, she would lay her head on my lap and drool all over me. It’s a good think I love her.

What they didn’t take were their horse, Hondo; their dogs, Tara the great Dane, Bobo the yellow lab and Zip of origins unknown; their cats, Rocky and Miss Kitty; and a fighting Siamese fish, whose name, if it has one, I don’t know. As I have done many times previously, I stayed behind to take care of the animals.

So it was that last Thursday, my own canine companion, Pepper, and I drove across town to spend five days in a huge home, with TVs in almost every room, which is far different from my own small, but beloved, apartment, which does not have a TV.

. The three dogs mobbed us at the door, greeting Pepper and I as long-lost friends whom they hadn’t seen for a zillion years. They love both of us.

With me, I had brought my computer and plans to get a lot of writing done, my art supplies  to use as a break from the writing, and of course several books to read. I should have traveled more lightly, because all these items, except for an audio book, “The Deeds of Paksenarrion,” saw little use.

First I discovered that there was a “Lord of the Rings” marathon on TV. I had been meaning to re-watch this trilogy for some time now. Then there was the two-day NCIS marathon. I love NCIS. So there went another two days.

Then there was the fact that I wanted my own desk, which looks out on trees and a red-tiled roof , from which to do my writing. I also wanted  my own,  tall, granite-like table top on which to do my art work. It was as if I couldn’t write or draw, or at least wasn’t comfortable doing so. in a different setting.

Or was this just an excuse to do nothing for four days?

I suspect that was the case. But now I’m back at home and have no excuse – and thankfully no TV. So how went your Labor Day weekend?

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Matador Magazine http://tinyurl.com/lkkw6pe Although I prefer to give a pat on the back to non-commercial bloggers, I couldn’t resist this article about America’s 25 most picturesque mountains. I noted that I’ve personally seen 18 of those on this list. I always knew I was blessed. Enjoy.

No, Can’t and Have To

 

Telling me I can't do something is almost like telling Niagara Falls to stop flowing. Are you a bit like that, too. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Telling me I can’t do something is almost like telling Niagara Falls to stop flowing. Are you a bit like that, too. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Being stubborn can be a good thing. Being stubborn can be a bad thing. It just depends on how you use it.” – Willie Aames.

Fighting Words

I keep a to-do list that I update daily, but I tell myself the things on the list are simply suggestions for how I can spend my day. I also put more tasks on the to-do list than  I can possible accomplish in a day. That’s because I like choices – and the satisfaction I get each time I cross off, with a big black pen, a completed chore.

But the minute I feel I have to do something, pretty much guarantees it is not likely to get done. I turn into a stubborn mule that won’t budge.

On the other hand, tell me I can’t do something, and hell would have to freeze over before I wouldn’t do it. .

I know I’m not alone in this kind of weird behavior. For example, just yesterday, when my next door neighbor and her teenage daughter were visiting, the subject of to-do lists came up.

The daughter laughed, and said that putting something down on her mom’s list made it the one thing she absolutely wouldn’t do.

Mom shook her head, but then said, “She’s right.”

It makes me wonder who hot-wired our brains?  Why is it that when someone tells me  “No,” I immediately think “Yes?”  Why is it that when someone tells me “You can’t,” I do it?  Or when they say I “have to,” I don’t?

I just know that “no,” “can’t” and “have to” are fighting words in my world Continue Reading »

Art and Thoughts

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

Chickens and Flowers

            I pretty much gave up painting for the nine years I lived in an RV. Just not enough room to piddle around with it the way I do. I’m trying to get back to doing it these days, Just for the fun of it.

And sharing is part of the fun. I know it’s not great art, but doing it cheers my soul and satisfies my creative side.

 

These hens remind me of the ones that ran around my grandmother's backyard, and eventually ended up on the Sunday dinner table.

These hens remind me of the ones that ran around my grandmother’s backyard, and eventually ended up on the Sunday dinner table.

 

            “If you know sometin’ well, you can always paint it, but people would be better off buyin’ chickens” – Grandma Moses 

Not exactly how I wanted this to come out, but I'm committed to finishing every painting I start, even if it goes in the garbage can afterwards.

Not exactly how I wanted this to come out, but I’m committed to finishing every painting I start, even if it goes in the garbage can afterwards.

And this is the poem I think of when I think of flowers:

 I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

 I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze

Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

~William Wordsworth, 1804

Bean Pat Birding Thailand http://tinyurl.com/ksl9p4v Some armchair birding for species not you won’t see unless you travel. There are nearly 10,000 bird species worldwide, of which not quite 1,000 can be found in North America. I would truly like to see all 10,000 in person, but since I can’t this is the second best way to go birding.

“Not all is doom and gloom. We are beginning to understand the natural world and are gaining a reverence for life – all life.” – Roger Tory Peterson

            “We will need action and vigilance in the years to come, and Wild America’s defenders will have their work cut out for them. But the despoilers should not gloat, for history is against them. If you doubt that, just look back a few decades.” – Scott Weidensaul  

Some of my favorite parts of Wild America was reading James Fisher's comments about America's many wonders, including his awe at his first sight of the Grand Canyon. Actually, I'm awed every time I stand on its rim. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Some of my favorite parts of Wild America was reading James Fisher’s comments about America’s many wonders, including his awe at his first sight of the Grand Canyon. Actually, I’m awed every time I stand on its rim. — Photo by Pat Bean

Bookish Wednesday

            I just finished rereading Scott Weidensaul’s “Return to Wild America,” after rereading Roger Tory Peterson and James Fisher’s “Wild America,” which was first published in 1955, and continues to be a popular classic today.

 

If I had to name one bird that I saw everywhere there was a wetlands area during my own journeys around North America, it would be the great blue heron. While I never saw more than one or two at a time, they did seem to be everywhere there was water. -- Photo by Pat Bean

re If I had to name one bird that I saw everywhere there was a wetlands area during my own journeys around North America, it would be the great blue heron. While I never saw more than one or two at a time, they did seem to be everywhere there was water. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Wild America” is about Roger and James’ 100-day, 30,000 mile, journey across the continent, mostly in search of birds. Scott’s book, published 50 years later in 2005, is a year-long retracing of the two naturalist’s journey, which was arranged by Roger for his English birding colleague, James.

I reread these books slowly, over the period of two months, just a few pages at a time, so I could fully comprehend and enjoy seeing the birds and the landscapes through these men’s eyes. I highly recommend these books for anyone who loves this beautiful country of ours as much as I do.

The half-century contrasts between the two book are part doom and gloom, but also part joy and cheer. In some ways the wildlife and land are healthier and in some ways not.

Rereading the books was awesome, and well worth my time.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Green Herons at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge  http://tinyurl.com/ms8fkdx I love watching these birds; and since I couldn’t make up my mind today a Bean Pat also to Shroom Shroom http://tinyurl.com/m5pl4aj Tolkien and mushrooms

A Lesson Learned

A white=breasted nuthatch defying gravity. -- Wikimedia photo

A white=breasted nuthatch defying gravity. — Wikimedia photo

             “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates

From Mother Nature

Recently I watched a white-breasted nuthatch walk up and down a tree trunk. Its antics, for some unknown reason, brought to mind my tree-climbing antics when I young and nimble.  My favorite tree was a large chinaberry that grew in my grandmother’s untamed backyard. The tree stood at the rear of her property, just in front of a huge field of wild blackberries that I collected each year.

I wonder what nuthatches think about hen they are watching people? Don't you.  -- Wikimedia photo

I wonder what nuthatches think about when they are watching people? Don’t you? — Wikimedia photo

There was a large rock beneath that tree, which I used as a first step to get high up in the tree. When the leaves were in full bloom, I would hide from the world, and dream of being a circus acrobat.

I especially enjoyed collecting the tree’s hard, green pea-size berries, as they were excellent ammunition for the nightly neighborhood kid skirmishes when sides were chosen and war was initiated.

Then one day, I discovered a large rattlesnake coiled on the rock I used to boost myself up into the branches of that tree. We both scurried away. The snake was most likely as afraid of me as I had been of it. But I never climbed that tree again.

These berries from a chinaberry tree were often the ammunition for neighborhood kid skirmishes when the fireflies came out at night. I would hide behind something and throw out a handful when an unsuspecting victim passed by, usually the pesky boy next door, .

These berries from a chinaberry tree were often the ammunition for neighborhood kid skirmishes when the fireflies came out at night. I would hide behind something and throw out a handful when an unsuspecting victim passed by, usually the pesky boy next door, .

Now, many, many years later, as I watched the nuthatch defy gravity as it walked up and down the tree trunk, I thought about how fear paralyzes people from enjoying life. My bone-chilling meeting with that long-ago snake had deprived me of a favorite pastime.

But, thankfully, time taught me to fear the snake when it was where I would place my foot, but not to fear it when it wasn’t there. It was a well-learned lesson that gave me many years of freedom in the outdoors and the courage to face the unknown unafraid.

I wonder if that old chinaberry tree still exists, and if a nuthatch ever played in it? Continue Reading »

Travel Advice

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener

The horizon is always calling to me, whether it lies beyond the ocean or just past a Texas cotton field.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

The horizon is always calling to me, whether it lies beyond the ocean or just past a Texas cotton field. — Photo by Pat Bean

From a Passionate Nomad

            Never do I feel more at home than when I am on the road. Whether it be driving past a cotton field dotted with oil rigs in my native Texas, or maneuvering the steep and twisting coastal roads in Oregon, it always feels that’s exactly where I belong.

My itchy feet took me to Africa, where I pretended I was John Wayne in Hatari at the Amboseli National Park Airport in Kenya. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

My itchy feet took me to Africa, where I pretended I was John Wayne in Hatari at the Amboseli National Park Airport in Kenya. — Photo by Kim Perrin

Freya Stark, who was the first person to beat Phileas Fogg’s around the world in 90 days’ record, must have felt the same.

When I embarked on my nine-year U.S. cross-country adventure in a small RV I called Gypsy Lee, I had only one rule: No whining.

Freya had seven rules, which she wrote about in a letter to her mother. I laughed when I read them last night. She called them the seven cardinal virtues of a traveler. They were:

1. To admit standards that are not one’s own standards and discriminate the values that are not one’s own values.

2. To know how to use stupid men and inadequate tools with equanimity.

3.  To be able to disassociate oneself from one’s bodily sensations.

4. To be able to take rest and nourishment as and when they come.

5.  To love not only nature but human nature also.

6.  To have an unpreoccupied, observant and uncensorious mind – in other words to be unselfish.

7.  To be as commonly good-tempered at the end of the day as at the beginning.

I think Freya, who died in 1993 at the age of 100 and who during her lifetime wrote over two dozen travel books, was simply wordier than me. What do you think?

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Where’s My Backpack http://tinyurl.com/k3k5so6  Great travel blog, and today great horizons.

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