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This was a carefully done illustration of a gila woodpecker  I did to go with an Audubon birding blog.

This was a carefully drawn, then painted, illustration of a gila woodpecker I did to go with an Audubon birding blog.

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” – E. L. Doctorow

This was a freehand col I did quickly, spending maybe 15 minutes on, and with no advance drawing.

This was a freehand watercolor I did quickly, spending maybe 15 minutes on, and with no advance drawing. I love it.

 

 

Not Sure If That’s Good or Bad

When I was a reporter, I learned to talk to everyone from the homeless guy on Ogden, Utah’s 25th Street to Congressman Jim Hansen in his Washington D.C. office. I loved my life because it was always different and never boring.

And this is a piece I agonized over for days because I had a bright idea of a fish in a bowl of flowers, and which in my opinion is a total flop.

And this is a piece I agonized over for days because I had a bright idea of a fish in a bowl of flowers, and which in my opinion is a total flop. I hate it.

But I eventually developed a voice as a journalist, not so much my own voice but as a style of writing in which I let readers see the world through my eyes. It was more difficult after I retired and began writing personal essays. I had to work to develop my own voice, and that took time. I finally decided that I write with an old broad’s voice, and I say that proudly, who is a wandering wonderer.

Lately I’ve become more active in art, particularly watercolors. This morning I looked at three recent pieces and realized, as far as technique and style, they had absolutely nothing in common. I keep experimenting hoping that I will discover an artistic voice, just as I have a writing voice.

Right now my artistic efforts are clearly schizophrenic. But then again maybe that’s my real art voice. What do you think?

Bean Pat: Paths of Color http://tinyurl.com/pyosgg3 Now this is an artist with a distinctive voice, and its one I love.

 

Ramsey Canyon

My grandson, JJ, found Ramsey Canyon a treat from the normal Sonoran Desert Landscape. So did I. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My grandson, JJ, found Ramsey Canyon a treat from the normal Sonoran Desert Landscape. So did I. — Photo by Pat Bean

Painted Redstart -- Wikimedia Photo

Painted Redstart — Wikimedia Photo

“Solitary converse with nature; for thence are ejaculated sweet and dreadful words never uttered in libraries. Ah! the spring days, the summer dawns, and October woods!” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Desert Oasis – And a Red-Faced Warbler         

If numbers counted, the painted redstart was the bird of the day when my 16-year-old grandson, JJ, and I hiked Ramsey Canyon this past weekend. But in my book, the bird of the day was the one in which I got a brief glimpse, just long enough to see its striking face before it resumed flittering high among the thick leafy branches of a half-dozen tall trees.

It was a red-faced warbler, and a lifer for me, the 708th bird species I have seen. While I watched it, and another, flitting about for at least 10 minutes, that one glimpse as it settled briefly on a tree limb that was in the open, was the only one in which I could identify it.

Warbler, red-faced. I saw one up Ramsey Canyon

Red-faced warbler. — Wikimedia photo

The warblers were flying with about a half-dozen redstarts, and it was impossible for me to tell which was which when they were moving. Both birds are similar in size, although the redstart is slightly larger. The two species are rarely seen outside of Southeast Arizona or Southwest New Mexico when they migrate up from Mexico and South America for the spring and summer.

I saw my first painted redstart, back in 2006, in Zion National Park, which is located in Southern Utah.

This day, in Arizona’s Ramsey Canyon, these beautiful redstarts, with their black bodies, red bellies and distinctive white wing bars, were just about everywhere along the creek-side hike. It wasn’t until the trail reached the top of the main trail, where it looped across Ramsey Creek before heading back down to the trailhead, that I saw the warblers.

My grandson and I joined a half-dozen other birders on the lookout for them after someone noted they had spotted a red-faced warbler. Thankfully, I had my binoculars focused on the branch when the only one I could identify landed briefly.

What a treat.

My grandson, however, was more excited about seeing four white-tailed deer as we hiked, and the fantastic giant trees that grew beside the creek, which laughed and gurgled its way over rocks and down small waterfalls as it made its way down the canyon.

These things excited me, too. The red-faced warbler was just the chocolate syrup on rich French vanilla ice cream, which is always good enough to eat without any topping.

            Bean Pat: A Totem Town http://tinyurl.com/nn6gqxj A great armchair travel blog. I’ve been to this town, and loved it, too.

What is Success?

Dale Chihuly in the garden. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Dale Chihuly in the garden. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.” Swami Vivekananda

Is It Worth It?

I spent this morning editing a chapter in Travels with Maggie, the book I’ve written about my journeys in my RV with my canine companion, Maggie. The chapter includes an account of my visit to the Missouri Botanical Gardens, where Dale Chihuly’s glass art was mingled with tropical plants in the garden’s geodesic greenhouse.

Chihuly flowers

Chihuly flowers — Photo by Pat Bean

I was awed by the exhibit, and lay in bed that night, with Maggie by side above the RV’s cabin, pondering how a genius like Chihuly came to be. But I already knew the answer: Single-minded focus and dedication.

For almost as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a “great” writer, yet I’m always finding excuses for not writing. I lack 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. I’m always getting distracted, and it used to be that when the writing went undone, I flagellated myself.

Beside a waterfall. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Beside a waterfall. — Photo by Pat Bean

Such abuse went on for years, until I finally realized that giving 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 the day it came out, and sniffing every flower in life I came across, were more important to me than being a great writer.

Writing is a part of my life, and will always be, but it will never be my whole life. Knowing this, accepting this, and now content with this, I lay silently that night in bed, content and listening to Maggie gently snoring at my feet before I let the waves of sleep take me.

That was several years ago, and time has only made me more content with that decision.

Swami Vivekananda, whom I quoted at the beginning of this blog has it exactly right,  But I’ve chosen another path, the one Albert Schweitzer recommended when he described what it takes to be successful.

“Success,” he said, “is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

I did and I do.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Hunting Butterflies http://tinyurl.com/qxckzg5 Living in the moment. Good advice

Carpe Diem

            Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. –Charles Richard

This day, standing beneath a covered shelter on a bridge across a pond at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge with my son, Lewis, was a seized day that left me with special memories. -- Photo by Pat Bean.

This day, standing beneath a covered shelter on a bridge across a pond at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge during a storm, with my son, Lewis, was a seized day that left me with special memories. — Photo by Pat Bean.

Seize the Day

            Just a few quotations that hopefully will inspire you to not let today pass by unnoticed.

Enduring that same storm was a scissor-tailed flycatcher that I captured with my camera through the rain. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Enduring that same storm was a scissor-tailed flycatcher that I captured with my camera through the rain. — Photo by Pat Bean

Live every day as if it were going to be your last; for one day you’re sure to be right.” — Harry “Breaker” Harbord Morant

            “Go for it now. The future is promised to no one.” — Wayne Dyer

            Just FYI, I’m currently reading Dyer’s recent book, I Can See Clearly Now. His much earlier Your Erroneous Zones had a major impact on making my life better back in the 1970s. Dyer is one of my heroes.

“Every man dies. Not every man really lives.”Braveheart

            This final is a quote from the toast my son, Michael, made at his older sister’s wedding. “May you live, so that when you die, you know the difference.” It’s one of my favorite quotes.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Eagle flight http://tinyurl.com/ng5s3ca WOW! Also, Cecil the Lion http://tinyurl.com/njcg2n2 NY Times Opinion Peace. Well said.

Bogged Down

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis   ” Every day is a good day to be alive.”– Marty Robbins

I think the alligators got me when I tried doing too many things. --Photo by Pat Bean

I think the alligators got me when I tried doing too many things. –Photo by Pat Bean

Time to Simplify I have to admit that the past two weeks have found me doing not much of anything worthwhile. I think it started when I wrote out a complete list of all the things I needed to do, should do, and wanted to do.

Anne Lamott advises writers to take things Bird by Bird in her excellent book. I think I'm going to try and follow that advise from now on. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Anne Lamott advises writers to take things Bird by Bird in her excellent book. I think I’m going to try to follow that advise from now on. — Photo by Pat Bean

After finishing the list, which took up about 50 lines in a notebook, I was suddenly too tired to do anything. For the next several days I played computer games, which prompted me to vow not to play computer games for the next 50 days. Then I watched TV programs on my computer for several days. I’m not sure what finally gave me a clue as to what my problem was, but clearly that impossible to accomplish list had mired me in a muddy pond thick with alligators. So I put the list aside, and went back to simply listing a few prioritized things that needed accomplishing on a daily to do list — and which I could reasonably complete and still have time left over for dawdling, reading and smelling the flowers. As if by magic, I recovered my energy. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I think my brain gets a kick out of playing games with me.     

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Wildlife Sighting http://tinyurl.com/q57dgvv Take an armchair trip with this photographer as he watches a cougar drag its dinner up a cliff.

20 Ways to a Better Life

Taking time to smell the flowers, without getting stung by the bee of course, always makes me happy.

Taking time to smell the flowers, without getting stung by the bee of course, always makes me happy.

I’m not one to give advice, as the choices I’ve made in my own life have been far from perfect. But I was recently thinking about the things that I know or do that have made my life better. I came up with the following 20.

  1. Get a dog, and walk it daily
  2. Don’t take anything personal unless it makes you feel better.
  3. Realize people are more concerned about how they look than how you look.
  4. Find your passion in life, and follow it.
  5. Believe in yourself.
  6. Accept that you’re not perfect.
  7. Learn something new every day.
  8. Get enough sleep, but don’t occasionally miss out on an opportunity to keep going until you drop.
  9. Smile
  10. Hug someone
  11. Laugh often and loud,
  12. Beat a pillow with a tennis racket when you’re frustrated. Or simple scream the anger out.
  13. Eat chocolate
  14. Take a hike in the mountains, or forest, or beside a stream, or on an ocean beach.
  15. Complete a project.
  16. Say no when you don’t want to do something.
  17. Don’t break promises to yourself.
  18. Give yourself credit for reaching goals.
  19. Do something that scares you and that you’ve never done before.
  20. Watch a sunrise, or a sunset, or both.

So what makes you satisfied and happy with life?

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Look Up http://tinyurl.com/o7h78ek Beautiful photo, wise advice.

20-Minute Cliff

“The high road of the Blue Ridge Mountains is like a long museum corridor lined with nature’s treasures.” — National Park Service

A sign to ponder. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A sign to ponder. — Photo by Pat Bean

Back to Pondering

I was looking through the many photos I took a couple of years ago when I drove the Blue Ridge Parkway when I came across the one pictured above. The sign left me pondering its significance.

Along with sight-seeing and pondering as we drove the Blue Ridge Parkway, Pepper (who joined me after Maggie died for the last eight months of my full-time RV travels) and I did a a lot of exploring of the parkway's many trails. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Along with sight-seeing and pondering as we drove the Blue Ridge Parkway, Pepper (who joined me after Maggie died for the last eight months of my full-time RV travels) and I did a a lot of exploring of the parkway’s many trails. — Photo by Pat Bean

But it was autumn when I was on the parkway, and the golden, scarlet, purple, lemon and orange hues along the way kept me from pondering too long. It was more important for me to drink in the Technicolor views, which often magically appeared from behind layers of thick white fog and mist as each day grew older.

Now, seeing the sign without the awesome scenery to distract me, I’m back to pondering again.

The sign reads: In June and July, during corn-choppin’ time, this cliff serves the folks in White Rock community as a time piece. Twenty minutes after sunlight strikes the rock face, dusk falls on the valley below.”

Who in the heck figured this timetable out, and what would people be doing at this exact spot on the ridge right before dusk? Pondering, I guess, is what a wondering, wanderer does best.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Ranting Crow http://tinyurl.com/p9qsfk6 Thought of the day. If you get to be my age, you have to wonder why history keeps repeating itself. Perhaps it’s time for a change.

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