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Archive for the ‘Adventures With Pepper’ Category

“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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These two trees captured my attention along the Arivaca Cienega Trail because they so accurately represent the circle of life. -- Photo by Pat Bean

These two trees captured my attention along the Arivaca Cienega Trail because they so accurately represent the circle of life. — Photo by Pat Bean

I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods. Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup. ~Wendell Berry

Birdy Backroad Heaven

I woke up restless the other morning, and solved it by reviving a weekend morning tradition from back when I was putting in 50-hour work weeks. I packed a picnic lunch, gathered up my canine companion, Pepper, and we took off looking for a backroad and hoping it took us someplace where we could be away from the crowds and in one of Mother Nature’s wondrous landscapes.

Not the best picture, but in person it was magnificent. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Not the best picture, but in person it was magnificent. — Photo by Pat Bean

I found my backroad off Interstate 19 near Arizona’s border with Mexico. It led to the small town of Arivaca 23 miles away. I passed a Border Patrol stop near the interstate, but was waved on and told I only had to stop on the way back.

Speed limit on the narrow, twisting and bumpy back lane was mostly 45 mph, but it wasn’t often I was able to go that fast. But traffic, except for a couple of pickup trucks and a half-dozen motorcyclists traveling together, was non-existent. It was exactly what I had been hoping to find.

I didn't have to search hard to find this abode of Mother Nature. This sign set right beside the road just east of Arivaca. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I didn’t have to search hard to find this abode of Mother Nature. This sign set right beside the road just east of Arivaca. — Photo by Pat Bean

I found myself singing “On the Road Again.” I couldn’t belt it out with the grace of Willie Nelson but, it was good enough to put me in a yippy-I-got-away-from-the-world mood, especially when I had to dodge a greater roadrunner dashing across the road.

Just outside downtown Arivaca, which sits on the edge of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Pepper and I stopped at the refuge’s Arivaca Cienega site, which is a designated Audubon Important Birding Area. Thankfully, leashed pets were allowed on the trail, which cut through what was clearly a marsh during the desert area’s monsoon season. Cienega, in fact, translates as swamp. Birds twittered all around us, and among others I identified song sparrows, cardinals, Bell’s vireos and western kingbirds. A deer watched us a minute or two as we rounded a bend in the trail before scampering out of sight.

I didn’t think my morning, which was cooled by a light breeze still fresh from the desert night, could have been any more perfect. Then a pair of red-tailed hawks circled overhead and it did.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Luckenbach Loop http://tinyurl.com/n9cgt9v One of my favorite bloggers also enjoys a backroad trip.

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“Not writing for me would be like not breathing.” – Pat Bean

It's hot in Tucson right now, so I have been doing more inside reading than outside birdwatching, which I love to do as much as I love writing. But I saw this gila woodpecker on a recent early morning walk with Pepper. -- photo by Pat Bean

It’s hot in Tucson right now, so I have been doing more inside reading than outside birdwatching, which I love to do as much as I love writing. But I saw this gila woodpecker on a recent early morning walk with Pepper.  — photo by Pat Bean

And Writers  

            “A writer who hates the actual writing, who gets no joy out of the creation of magic by words, to me is simply not a writer at all … how can you hate the magic which makes a paragraph or sentence or a line of dialogue or a description something in the nature of a new creation? – Raymond Chandler, who liked to think of his words as those that got up and walked.

Chandler introduced his hard-boiled detective, Phillip Marlowe, in The Big Sleep, which was published the year I was born. He decided to become a become a mystery writer after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Great Depression at the age of 44. The Big Sleep has been named one of the top 100 fiction novels of the century.   

And right beneath the woodpecker, in the same tree, was a white-winged dove. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And right beneath the woodpecker, in the same tree, was a white-winged dove. — Photo by Pat Bean

         “The first thing you have to know about writing is that it is something you have to do every day. There are two reasons for this: Getting the work done, and connecting with your unconscious mind.” – Walter Mosely.

Mosely is Black, Jewish and grew up in poverty. One of his writing teachers told him that these things provided him with riches for the page. Mosley started writing when he was 34, and says he has written every day since, turning out over 40 books in a variety of genres. Perhaps his best known are the Easy Rawlins detective series, which are a favorite of Bill Clinton, and which became more popular when the president said as much.

I remember back when JFK said his favorite author was Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond series. I had already read all of Flemings’ books at the time, but they got more popular after Kennedy said he liked them.

“Writing is really a way of thinking – not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet.” –Toni Morrison

Morrison, who has writing awards too numerous to list that include a Pulitzer and a Nobel, takes on epic themes in her books,  the best known of which are Beloved, The Bluest Eye, Sula and the Song of Solomon.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Laughter Therapy http://tinyurl.com/qxpht3q I’m all about the chocolate – and belly laughing.

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             “There was an old man with a beard, who said: ‘It is just as I feared! Two owls and a hen, four larks and a wren have all built their nests in my beard.’” – Edward Lear

Two of the three great horned owl juveniles now making themselves at home in my apartment complex that sits in the shadow of the Catalina Mountains -- Photo by Pat Bean

Two of the three great horned owl juveniles now making themselves at home in my apartment complex that sits in the shadow of the Catalina Mountains — Photo by Pat Bean

Treasured Moments

            Pepper and I were taking a walk late yesterday evening when we came upon two great horned owls sitting on the lawn, one no more than 30 feet away. They stopped Pepper in her tracks. She stared long and hard at them, but made no move in their direction.

The third owl mostly watched me, but this was the only usable photo I was able to take in the late evening light. The others were too blurry to redeem. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The third owl mostly watched me, but this was the only usable photo I was able to take in the late evening light. The others were too blurry to redeem. — Photo by Pat Bean

I watched for a while, and then hurried Pepper along, thinking to return her to our apartment, grab my camera and return to the owls. The light had pretty much faded by the time I did just that, but the owls were still in place. I snapped of a couple of dozen shots, but they were too far away for the flash to work, and my hands weren’t steady enough to get any good shots, although I did manage, with the help of PhotoScape, to salvage two of them.

The owl farthest away got nervous and flew away, joining a third owl sitting on the roof of one of the complex’s buildings. The other stayed put, until I got within about 15 feet of it.

This was the second time I had come across the trio. The other time was in broad daylight, when they were high up in a tree with about a dozen people ogling them. I was walking Pepper that time, too – and again did not have my camera with me. Darn it!

Earlier in the year, I had watched and listened to a lot of hooting as the owl parents had courted, chased off ravens and a red-tailed hawk, and nested here in the apartment complex for the third year in a row.

And each year, their offspring take a while to learn to fear humans, popping up unexpectedly and unconcerned about who is watching them.  It’s the same with the young Cooper’s Hawk, whose parents also like to nest in the tall trees here.

It brings to mind a song from the from the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific:

You’ve got to be taught To hate and fear, You’ve got to be taught From year to year, It’s got to be drummed In your dear little ear. You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid Of people whose eyes are oddly made, And people whose skin is a different shade, You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, Before you are six or seven or eight, To hate all the people your relatives hate,  You’ve got to be carefully taught!

Bean Pat: Writing Advice http://tinyurl.com/p2lkjof This is really good.

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The view from the west side of my patio table after a rain storm. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The view from the west side of my patio table after a rain storm. — Photo by Pat Bean

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.”  — Ivy Baker Priest

It’s All About Perspective

I sit on the east side of my patio table to have my first cup of cream-laced coffee for the day. In this seat, I have a grand view of the Catalina Mountains as the sun comes up.

A winter view of the Catalinas from the east side of my patio table. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A winter view of the Catalinas from the east side of my patio table. — Photo by Pat Bean

But in the late afternoons, when  I and my friend Jean – whose dog Dusty is Pepper’s best friend – sit on my balcony to discuss the day’s events over a Jack and Coke, I’ve been plopping down on the west side of the table. From this vantage point, I have a view of red roof tiles, and the sky through the lacy pattern of tree leaves..

Both views are pleasant.

A few days ago, I took the west side of the table in the late afternoon because I had left my journal and some papers on that side. What I quickly noticed was that the shadowy patches on the mountain’s cliffs as the sun rose in the morning were now the patches that were highlighted as the sun began its dip below the horizon.

From her side of the table, in addition to the red-tiled roof and sky through the trees, Jean had a great view of Pepper and Dusty playing on my bed, a delightful sight that only I usually got to see while we’re laughing and chatting.

“I’m sitting on this side of the table from now on,” Jean said. Since it’s my table, and I can normally sit on either side of the table I want, that was fine with me.

What a different place the world can be when we look at it from a different perspective, I thought, sort of like walking in another person’s shoes.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Brevity http://tinyurl.com/lclbale As a writer, this is one of my favorite blogs. And I take today’s advice seriously to heart.

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  “The best thing about dreams is that fleeting moment when you are between asleep and awake, when you don’ t know the difference between reality and fantasy, when for just that one moment you feel with your entire soul that the dream is reality, and it really happened.” — Oprah Winfrey

Pepper, waiting for me to take her for a walk. Did she start or end my dream, I wonder? -- Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper, waiting for me to take her for a walk. Did she start or end my dream, I wonder? — Photo by Pat Bean

One Heck of a Dream

            My canine companion Pepper woke me at the break of dawn, at the end of one of my crazy dreams. Not yet ready to get up and take her for her morning walk, I replayed the dream in my head.

In it, I was attending a writing conference in Vancouver, Washington, with an old boyfriend. As the workshop ended, we met up with one of my ex son-in-laws. He didn’t have a vehicle so we invited him to ride with us. On the way home, we got lost in Virginia City (not sure if I was in Nevada or Montana)  because my old boyfriend couldn’t find the highway that would take us across Lake Michigan – yes I know, but it’s not uncommon for my dreams to be full of disjointed geography.

Some dreams fade into the background, while others stick out like this patch of color I find it all interesting. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Some dreams fade into the background, while others stick out like this patch of color I find it all interesting. — Photo by Pat Bean

I suggested that we find a place to spend the night and try again in the morning, then I remembered that I had left Pepper home alone. I would need to call a friend to take care of her. When I couldn’t reach the friend, I had a brilliant idea, just as we were passing a Best Buy. We went in, bought a GPS, plugged in my address, and were home before dark.

As if she knew I was thinking about her, this was the exact moment that the flesh and blood Pepper scooted up to my face and began licking it. Or did my dream start when Pepper started licking my face?

Let’s see. I do attend writing conferences, and I recently came across a photo of my old boyfriend, taken when he was swimming in an off the trail pool during one of our outings to Zion National Park; I saw the ex-son-in-law at my granddaughter’s house during my Christmas trip to Texas; I have a son who lives close to Lake Michigan; I’ve visited Vancouver and Virginia City in both states; and I got a a GPS for Christmas.

What’s strange is how I put all the parts together.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat:  100 Beautiful Words http://tinyurl.com/ncdsjvo  I found the list of what one person thought were beautiful words fascinating. My choices, however, would be different. At the top of my list would be the words cacophony and oxymoron, perhaps not beautiful but certainly intriguing.

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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.

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