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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

 

OK. Just call me a brazen hussy. I'm the star of this blog.

OK. Just call me a brazen hussy. I’m the star of this blog.

“When I write, I lose time. I’m happy in a way that I have a hard time finding in real life. The intimacy between my brain and my fingers and my computer… Yet knowing that that intimacy will find an audience… It’s very satisfying. It’s like having the safety of being alone with the ego reward of being known.” — Jill Soloway

Because of a Story and a Book Review

            What Jill Soloway said in the a above quote fits me like my own skin – at least the skin I had when I was younger and it had no wrinkles. I like having people read what I write, and for 37 years, when I wrote for a newspaper, that was almost a daily occurrence. But since I retired, it’s been a rare happening.

So I was quite pleased when my 600-word flash fiction story, The Heart of a Dog, took first place at the Story Circle Network conference in Austin, Texas, that I attended in April. Then I came home to find that my review of Walking the Llano was selected as Review of the Month for SCN’s book review page. The book is by Shelley Armitage, and if you’re interested, you can read the review at http://tinyurl.com/mgry65 And if you want to ready my story, just send me an e-mail at patbean@msn.com and I’ll send you a copy.

I feel like a brazen hussy for promoting myself like this, but it feels good, too.

I write because to not do so is like not breathing, But when what I write is read – and liked by others – it’s like watching a sky full of exploding firecrackers in my head.

Bean Pat: Feral Poetess http://tinyurl.com/hzl6ucr I love this combination of photo and words. This is a blog I recently started following.

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The Wyndham Hotel in Austin kindly turned the men's room into a women's room this past weekend when over 100 female writers took over the premises.

The Wyndham Hotel in Austin kindly turned the men’s room into a women’s room this past weekend when over 100 female writers took over the premises.

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. ~Vita Sackville-West (I know I’ve shared this quote before, but it is my favorite writing quote because it explains why I’m so glad I can call myself writer, a title which took way too many years of writing before I gave myself permission to use it.)

Doing It With Sisters

I’m just hours away from spending four days surrounded by my writing sisters, where we gathered in Austin this past weekend for the Stories from the Heart Contest.  It was a fantastic experience, and for way many more reasons than – can I hear a drum roll – that  I won the flash fiction prize for my story “The Heart of a Dog.”*

And someone was kind enough to turn the urinals into unique vases.

And someone was kind enough to turn the urinals into unique vases.

The reason I’m sharing this with you is because one of the presenters, awesome Debra Winegarten, encouraged us  to put ourselves out there to the world without apology, and that was just one of the many pieces of wisdom I came away with.

Now laugh if you will, but the biggest note of things to do that I wrote to myself was to put a note pad by the toilet. Doing just that I realized would better help me to clasp that net over the butterfly of words.

Bean Pat: Live to Write – Write to Live http://tinyurl.com/gpkwxyv This is one of my favorite writing blogs, and today its author, Lisa Jackson, encourages writers to enter contests.

*If you, men included, want to read my 600-word story, “The Heart of a Dog,” send me your email (mine is patbean@msn.com) and I will send you a copy.

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“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” –  Cesare Pavese 

I don't drive at night, but I do like to be on the road in time to catch the sunrise. I caught this one on my last road trip to Texas. = Photo by Pat Bean

I don’t drive at night, but I do like to be on the road in time to catch the sunrise. I caught this one on my last road trip to Texas. = Photo by Pat Bean

Upcoming Road Trip

            I just started reading A Way to See the World by Thomas Swick, who begins the book by explaining how he became addicted to travel while still a teenager. It’s kind of how I begin my just completed travel book, Travels with Maggie.  

Pepper and I didn't see any rattlesnakes at this rest stop on one of our trips to Texas to see family, but in an unmanicured area just beyond the building, she got into a nest of burrs that took me a good half hour to pick out before we could continue on our way. Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper and I didn’t see any rattlesnakes at this rest stop on one of our trips to Texas to see family, but in an unmanicured area just beyond the building, she got into a nest of burrs that took me a good half hour to pick out before we could continue on our way. Photo by Pat Bean

          While our stories are quite different, both of us clearly have a gene of wanderlust in our souls that made itself know at a young age.     As I’m reading Swick’s book, it gets my mind thinking about my upcoming road trip to Texas for a writer’s conference. It’s a 900-mile adventure over familiar territory, so I know I’m going to have to look at the roadside landscape with fresh eyes.

But then that’s one of the best things about travel, at least for me. I just can’t wait to get on the road again,” as Willie would say.

Or as Robert Louis Stevenson said: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

And I’m going to follow the advice of Molsih Eddin Saadi, who believes we should use our eyes when we travel: “A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.”

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: More Travel Quotes: http://tinyurl.com/3p8msma I love them all.

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          “Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese 

The route of Phineas Fogg in Jule Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days."  -- Wikimedia illustration

The route of Phineas Fogg in Jule Verne’s “Around the World in 80  Days .”                                                                   — Wikimedia illustration

 

Around the World in Less than 80 Days

            In November of 1889, two women set out to beat Phineas Fogg’s record-setting trip in “Around the World in 80 Days.” Fogg and his journey were the 1873 fictional creation of Jules Verne. The journeys of Nellie Bly, who went east from New York, and Elizabeth Bisland, who went west from the same city, were true journalistic adventures.

001    I knew of Nellie Bly, who won the race in 72 days, four days ahead of Bisland. She was the first woman to fight for equality with men as a female reporter, a fight that was still going on three-quarters of a century later when I had my first byline in a daily newspaper.

I had never heard of Bisland, however, until I read the two women’s compelling, and well researched story in Matthew Goodman book, “Eighty Days.” Published in 2013, it was a great library find. In addition to the compelling story of the two women and their journeys, Goodman weaved in details of what the world was like in the late 1890s, as well as historical events that took place during this time period.

The book also had me turning pages to see what would happen next. Because of the way the book was written, which woman would win the race was a question mark until almost the end. I identified more strongly with Nellie, and so found myself rooting for her when she was behind. And when she did win, the entire country cheered. She was an instant celebrity, acclaimed by all.

But fame is fickle, and in the end, it was Bisland whom I came most to admire.

Goodman didn’t end his book with the race, but followed the two women’s lives and careers until their death.

Although it had been Nellie Bly who had convinced her World Newspaper editor to send her around the world, and it was Bisland’s Cosmopolitan editor who persuaded her to undertake the journey against her wishes, it was Elizabeth who enjoyed the journey simply for itself. She became the true traveler of the two women.

Nellie was simply glad to be back in America, which she defended as the best country in the world. Elizabeth, who admired the English and her Anglo-Saxon heritage, developed wanderlust after the journey was over.

While the two women went on to lead entirely different lives after their journalistic adventures, they both stayed writers to the very end.

            Bean Pat: Why Climb Mount Kilimanjaro http://tinyurl.com/jj386yt This could inspire you to get out there and do something different.

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The view of the Catalina Mountains this morning from the parking lot of my apartment complex. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The view of the Catalina Mountains this morning from the parking lot of my apartment complex. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.: — Vivian Green

Days for Being Lazy and Reading

We had snow in Tucson the January month I began nesting here. Three years later, we had snow in Tucson again.

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The peaks a couple of days ago when they were mostly hidden behind a cloud curtain. — Photo by Pat Bean

My first Sonoran Desert snowfall was fairy like, and I got a photograph before it all melted a couple of hours later. This past week’s snowfall never made it down to the valley. But unlike my first one, which dusted the Catalina Mountains fo only a day, this one has provided me with mountain snowfall vistas for a full week. I’m assuming that while we got consistent rain in the foothills where I live, it snowed at higher elevations .

In the meantime, no matter how many things I wrote down each morning on my daily to-do list, by 10 o’clock, all I wanted to do was curl up in my recliner by a window with a book, and watch in total contentment as the cold, overcast, rainy day passed by my window..

And mostly, with occasional outings in the weather to walk my canine companion Pepper, that’s exactly what I did.

Today it’s sunny in the valley, and the Catalinas are losing their frosting. The sun defrosted my lazy ways too. Already I’ve cleaned house; spent an hour on the telephone with Comcast trying to get them not to raise my internet fees as they do every year in January; went to the store and bank; retrieved my mail, which has been sitting in my box for a week, read a bit, painted a bit, crocheted a bit, cooked a bit, and now am writing this blog – and it’s still early afternoon.

The sun and warmer day have recharged my batteries.

Bean Pat: In recognition of the death of David Bowie, my pat on the back today goes to the Wall Street Journal’s article and video on the rock star. http://tinyurl.com/hgagykl   And as a writer, this is one of my favorite quotes by Bowie: “Don’t you love the Oxford Dictionary? When I first read it, I thought it was a really really long poem about everything.”

 

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The color purple makes my world better, especially when it trims up some white flowers and helps attract a butterfly.  Photo by Pat Bean

Flowers make  my world better, especially when they attract a butterfly.           Photo by Pat Bean

 

  “The salvation of America and of the human race depends on the next election … But so it was last year, and so it was the year before, and our fathers believed the same thing 40 years ago.”    

While these words might have been written just yesterday, they were actually written 168 years ago by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The color blue cheers up my world too, especially when used by glass artist Chihuly in this outdoor sculpture piece. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The color blue cheers up my world too, especially when used by glass artist Chihuly in this outdoor sculpture piece. — Photo by Pat Bean

I came across the quote when I was reading my 1998 journal, some of which was written at the same time I was reading Emerson’s journals and, at the same time, ranting about talk show hosts like Jerry Springer and narrow-minded windbags who preach of Christian values but seem to have no Christianity in them.

I was a reporter at the time and so couldn’t turn off what was going on in the world, which some days I now do for the sake of my sanity. Instead, back then, I comforted myself with the thoughts of writers like Emerson, who recognized the world has its cruel side, always has and probably always will, but focused more on its positive attributes.

“My life is a May game. I will live as I like. I defy your strait-laced, weary, social ways and modes. Blue is the sky, green the fields and groves, fresh the springs, glad the rivers, and hospitable the splendor of sun and star. I will play by game out,” he wrote, as well as: “If Milton, if Burns, if Bryant, is in the world, we have more tolerance, and more love for the changing sky, the mist, the rain, the bleak overcast day, the sun is raining light.”

            For me, it’s been writers like Maya Angelou, who believed God put rainbows in the sky to give us hope, and Charles Kuralt, who saw the everyday kindness of the back roads as making up for the acts of greed in the headlines, who have made my world better.

It does no harm just once in a while to acknowledge that the whole country isn’t in flames, that there are people in the country besides politicians, entertainers and criminals,” wrote Kuralt.

If, as my grandmother would say, it looks like the world is going to hell in a hand basket – and I can’t disagree in these troubling times – there is good out there, too. Neighbors helping neighbors when hard times fall, kindness and thoughtfulness as part of everyday, ordinary lives, and friendships and partnerships that last a lifetime.

Yes. Nothing ever seems to change.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: CindyKnoke http://tinyurl.com/jsbmjdl I’ve always wanted to live for six months on a houseboat on the Mississippi River. It’s on my bucket list. But this houseboat in Amsterdam looks pretty cool, too. What do you think?

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A painting from on of Thomas Kinkaid' puzzles. Sadly, the artist died in 2012 at the young age of 54.

A painting from one of Thomas Kinkade’s puzzles. Sadly, the artist died in 2012 at the young age of 54.

“You can’t open a book without learning something.” – Confucius

You Never Know When You Will Find One

I was coming back from a weekend spent camping at Roosevelt Lake with my friend, Jean, when she suggested we stop at the Golden Goose in the small town of Catalina just north of Tucson.

001            “What’s the Golden Goose?” I asked.

“A thrift shop,” she answered. And so we stopped.

As always, I headed to the used book section to look for a treasure.

What I found was a travel book called “Chasing the Horizon” with words by Patrick Kinkade and art by his brother Thomas, whose serenely stunning art has been the subject of many 1,000-piece puzzle I have put together.

I bought the book, which had been published in 1997, and put it on my bookshelf, where it sat for over a year. About a week ago, it hit the top of my reading list. The book is about a trip the brothers took with their Dad through the British Isles and France.

Reading it gave me a startling new view of the prolific artist whose works dubbed him the Painter of Light. Thomas’s paintings mostly depict idealistic

American landscapes with gardens, stone cottages, light houses pastoral steams. Because of his art, I stereotyped him as a quiet, gentle man who probably saw the world through rose-colored glasses.

Instead I found two rowdy brothers who loved to pull pranks and often ignored rules. The trip was mostly to cover the same ground their father had when he served during World War II and ended up  in Normandy. The book let me see the same territory through the eyes of an observant writer, an idealistic artist, and a Dad, who had wanderlust in his soul – just like me.

While once again the book reminded me that stereotyping seldom works, it also reminded me that treasures aren’t all that hard to find.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat:  Light and Fluffy http://tinyurl.com/javnu3h  Those who turn clouds into castles and dragons, or alligators and cats, should get a laugh out of this. I did.

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