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Tusker Beer

        “It’s always better when you give a damn!” – John D. MacDonald

Kim and I with our Tusker's beer after a long, dusty day.

Kim and I with our Tusker’s beer after a long, dusty day.

Theroux Recaptures an African Night

I’m slowly reading Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux. I emphasize slowly because Theroux’s writing cannot be fully appreciated any other way. In the book, he has just crossed into Kenya from Ethiopia, having been shot at by bandits during his journey as a $3 paying passenger aboard a cattle truck whose normal speed is 10 mph because of the pot-holed, boulder-dotted, deep-rutted road.

Our tent in Pornini Camp in Kenya. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Our tent in Pornini Camp in Kenya. — Photo by Pat Bean

When the truck stops for the night in the town of Marsabit, he writes: “I walked around and found a place to stay, the Jey Jey … another three-dollar room. I had a shower in the communal washhouse, then walked to the market, drank a Tusker beer, and talked to some locals, boasting, ‘I got shot at.’ No one was surprised or impressed…”

Reading this flooded my little gray cells with memories. While I wasn’t shot at during my two weeks in Africa, I had experienced Africa’s rough roads (in a Land Rover with English-speaking native guides) and had stayed overnight in Africa (in isolated, but usually luxurious accommodations). But it wasn’t these things that ensnared my brain’s neurons, it was the mention of Tusker Beer.

The sundowner sunset. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The sundowner sunset. — Photo by Pat Bean

After a full day of travel that included crossing the border from Tanzania into Kenya, on roads as rough as Theroux described, I and my traveling companion Kim finally arrived at our tent camp near Amboseli National Park. We were just in time for a Sundowner, a late safari to a scenic spot to watch the sun go down. Still dusty from our day’s drive, we found a spot to park our weary bodies, and were handed a Tusker beer.

It was the perfect ending to an already perfect, if tiring, day. Thanks for the memories Paul. They made thus current non-wandering wanderer smile.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: A Birdy Lunch http://tinyurl.com/n8wmaup This blog makes me want to pack up and head to Costa Rico.

Sunrise in a Different Place

“Know where to find the sunrise and sunset times and note how the sky looks at those times — at least once.” — Marilyn vos Savant

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Sunrise at my apartment in northeast Tucson. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sunrise at my apartment in northeast Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean

“What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?” E.M.Forster

Fuel for a Wanderlust Soul 

I spent the night at my daughter’s home last night. We live 13 miles apart, she on the southwest side of Tucson, and me on the northeast side of Tucson. When I took Pepper outside to do her business this morning here, the sky was still dark, but with a creeping streak of blood-orange color barely peeping through swaths of low-lying inky black clouds.

A more fiery Texas sunrise. (I didn't have my camera with me to photograph this morning's sunrise here in southwest Tucson.) -- Photo by Pat Bean

A more fiery Texas sunrise. (I didn’t have my camera with me to photograph this morning’s sunrise here in southwest Tucson.) — Photo by Pat Bean

Fifteen minutes later, when I rechecked how the sunrise was progressing, the entire eastern horizon was ablaze with streaks of fiery orange color and purple swaths of clouds set beneath a deep blue sky. It was a magnificent sight that took my breath away.

On my side of Tucson, sunrise comes a few minutes later, usually rising up above a landscape ridge in a golden glow. It offers a quieter awakening to the day. But sunsets as seen from my apartment’s balcony usually go out with a bang that rivals any fireworks display.

I find no better way to welcome the day than by watching the sunrise, nor a better to way to end it than by watching a sunset. I’ve watched many in my lifetime, and have found each one beautiful in its own way. No two are ever alike.

Watching these miracles of nature makes me feel good to be alive — and  thankful for my many blessings.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Medicine Lake http://tinyurl.com/l55ztkk Jasper National Park. Beautiful photos that rekindled my memories of when I visited this awesome landscape.

            “…You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” – Collette

            “Hope is the thing with white feathers that perches in the soul.” -- Emily Dickinson -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Hope is the thing with white feathers that perches in the soul.” — Emily Dickinson — Photo by Pat Bean

From My 1980 Journal

   “Never grow a wishbone where your backbone ought to be …” – Clementine Paddleford

            “You’ve to rattle your cage door. You’ve got to let them know that you’re in there, and that you want out. Make noise! Cause trouble! You may not win right away, but you’ll sure have a lot more fun.” – Florence Kennedy.

            “Make policy, not coffee.” – Motto of the women’s political caucus.

            “We don’t want to be the same as men, merely equal as human beings.” – Margaret Heckler

            “The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions.” – Ellen Glassgow

            “Hope is the thing with white feathers that perches in the soul.” — Emily Dickinson

            “You can’t change the music of your soul.” – Katharine Hepburn

I think I’m picking up a theme. How about you?

Bean Pat: Peter Grandbois  http://tinyurl.com/lvrq526 Ode to Failure. Great essay

Me and Mrs. Polifax

            “… letting life just happen without control … It’s much less painful than fighting every step of the way … and so much more delightful than trying to arrange life like a table setting, which one can never do anyway. Really, it’s quite exciting to see what will happen along next …” – Dorothy Gilman

In searching for my place in life, I found myself most happy when I was in places where Mother Nature ruled, like this marsh in Maine. -- Photo by Pat Bean

In searching for my place in life, I found myself most happy when I was in places where Mother Nature ruled, like this marsh in Maine. — Photo by Pat Bean

The Wise Words of Dorothy Gilman

            I’m rereading my journal of 1980, a year I spent trying to find out who this woman was that inhabited my body.  It wasn’t a bad year. In fact, it was a really good year after a few bad ones.

However, many of my journal posts saw me whining about not knowing what I wanted – or knowing what I wanted but couldn’t have.  I was yearning at the time for both a soul mate and to discover the place where I fit into life.

... and beneath a tree in which a bird perched and sang. -- Photo by Pat Bean

… and beneath a tree in which a bird perched and sang. — Photo by Pat Bean

I980 was also the year in which I discovered Dorothy Gilman and her Mrs. Polifax mystery series. After discovering The Unexpected Mrs Polifax, published in 1966, I quickly searched out and read The Amazing Mrs.Polifax (1970), The Elusive Mrs. Polifax (1971). A Palm for Mrs. Polifax (1973), and Mrs. Polifax on Safari (1976).

The fictional Mrs. Polifax, a widow in her 60s, was, like me, discovering herself and, also like me, having adventures while doing so. I bonded with Mrs. Polifax as if she were my lifelong friend.

On June 4, 1980, I wrote: Spent the night with Mrs. Polifax, Just the thoughts I needed. Marvelous you are Dorothy Gilman.

I discovered many Polifax/Gilman quotes scattered throughout my 1980 journal. But none has stuck with me more thoroughly than the quote about our not being able to arrange life like a table setting. I could even quote it verbatim because of how many times I thought about it when things didn’t go as planned in my own life.

This wonderful author, Dorothy Gilman, died at the age of 88 in 2012, after writing another nine Mrs. Polifax books between 1983 and 2000. I read every one almost as soon as they came out.

Mrs. Polifax changed over the years, and so did I. I now know my place and “Marvelous” it is.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Rolbos http://tinyurl.com/my4swzd The Extinct Instinct of Trust, a blog that leaves you with much to think about. At least it did me.

Happy Valentine’s Day

It was love at first sight when Pepper and I met at a Dallas area rescue shelter. -- Photo by Pat Bean

It was love at first sight when Pepper and I met at a Dallas area rescue shelter. — Photo by Pat Bean

Love is a Multiple Splendid Thing

I married the wrong man because I felt no one else would ever love me – and oh how I had ached to be loved.

Keri and Kaiden, granddaughter and grandson, and just two of the many loves in my life. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Keri and Kaiden, granddaughter and grandson, and just two of the many loves in my life. — Photo by Pat Bean

Thankfully I discovered that love isn’t confined to couple relationships. When, at 38, I was finally willing to spend the rest of my life alone and without the love of one man, I discovered its magic was all around me. My children, my friends, the love I had for Mother Nature and for learning, the virtual love of caring people all around the world, and even love for myself.

While not as heady as that of a man for a woman, I learned that these people and things were still love – and less fickle and quite wonderful. While I never found my perfect soul mate, and believe me I searched, I did come to realize I had plenty of love in my life. And this is why I celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Bean Pat: Check out this web site if you’re a female writer, and want to be a better one. http://tinyurl.com/7bez4o2  Story Circle Network is my personal writer’s support group.

Sixty Pounds for $10

Life is like a jar of jalapenos. What you do today might burn you tomorrow. -- Wikimedia photo

Life is like a jar of jalapenos. What you do today might burn you tomorrow. — Wikimedia photo

Edible, adj.: Good to eat, and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm. ~Ambrose Bierce

Green Beans and Jalapenos   

          Tucson’s Market on the Move, a program in which good produce destined for the landfill for a variety of reasons, was at my downstairs neighbors’ church this past week. They bought the regular: 60 pounds of food for $10.

Of course that’s too much for one family to use before the vegetables go bad, so, I was the recipient of a couple of zucchinis, a dozen or so tomatoes, about a dozen large jalapenos and a handful of green beans, that looked as if they needed to go directly into the pot or they would spoil.

  Laughter is the valve on the pressure cooker of life. Either you laugh and suffer, or you got your beans or brains on the ceiling. – Wikipedia photo


Laughter is the valve on the pressure cooker of life. Either you laugh and suffer, or you got your beans or brains on the ceiling. – Wikipedia photo

I seldom eat green beans. Frozen ones taste like tough twigs, canned ones taste like mushy scum, and I usually overlook them when I’m buying fresh veggies. When I saw these fresh green beans, my mouth suddenly watered for the green beans my Southern grandmother used to cook, back when people weren’t so concerned about salt and fat in their diets. My mouth watered. .

So it was that I cleaned and put all the beans, about enough for two people, in a pot with water, salt and two slices of cut-up bacon, and then boiled the mixture until the water had almost evaporated and the beans were soft, not at all like the crisp, little cooked veggies I normally prefer.

I don’t know whether it was thinking about my grandmother’s kitchen or the flavor of green beans the way she cooked them, but I felt I had died and gone to heaven and was sitting across the table from the grandmother I had lost when I was 10. I devoured both helpings of the beans and wished I had more.

I later stuffed the jalapenos with a cream-cheese ham mixture, after the pain of cleaning out the seeds and halving them – my eyes burned and my throat choked up painfully during the process and quite a while afterwards – but the result was worth it.

I made spaghetti sauce with the tomatoes, and stuffed the zucchini with mushrooms, cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned on my blog how much I love cooking – and eating.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Foggy and Frosty http://tinyurl.com/mrkohbt Winter art from one of my favorite places on earth, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Reading Habits

            “Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” – John Locke

I'm currently reading, "We Wanted to be Writers: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers' Workshop," -- and loving it. I was fascinated by how many writers also wanted to be artists but chose writing -- which sort of fits me, too. This quick watercolor was part of a sky exercise I did a few years ago.

I’m currently reading, “We Wanted to be Writers: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop,” — and loving it. I was fascinated by how many writers also wanted to be artists but chose writing — which sort of fits me, too. This quick watercolor was part of a sky exercise I did a few years ago.

Do Blogs Fit In the Picture?

            When I was young, books were my escape into another world, one far more interesting than the one in which I lived. Since it wasn’t until I was well into my 20s that I knew I wanted to be a writer, I didn’t see books much beyond the fantasy lives they offered me.

I especially loved reading travel books, and it was from them that I started my first bucket list.

Another of my watercolor sky exercises. -- Art by Pat Bean

Another of my watercolor sky exercises. — Art by Pat Bean

Then, as a journalist, books became learning tools that helped take me from a wet-behind-the-ears reporter to star reporter at a small newspaper in just four years. I had dropped out of school at 16, but didn’t let my prospective managing editor know that when he hired me as a darkroom flunky when I was 27.

I then worked doubly hard and wormed my way up to being a reporter (the job I wanted but wasn’t hired for) in just five months. I credit all the reading I did after I dropped out of school as being the magic that propelled me forward in my chosen career, including finally getting me into college without a high school diploma.

But it wasn’t until I retired, and my life was less filled with distractions, that I started looking at books from a writer’s point of view – even though I was a writer. .

I began admiring great metaphors, and was inspired to write better ones. I wondered how one author kept me turning pages, while yet another had me stopped reading before I had read a dozen pages. It added a deeper dimension to my reading, especially when I started reading with a notebook and pen by my side.

The latest additions to my reading habits are blogs. I’ve always loved reading people’s journals – and this is exactly what many personal blogs are, and the ones I’m most likely to read. I’ve made friends with some bloggers, ones who make me feel as if I’m not alone in how I think, and others that make me think about things differently. I feel lucky to have such a cache of reading at my computer fingertips. Life is good!

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: I can’t do this until I do that http://tinyurl.com/kfmfnqt This blog was one that reminded me I was not alone.

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