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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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Do You Like Yourself?

Life is like a winding river with surprises around every bend. Sometime the river is calm .. Photo by Pat Bean

Life is like a winding river with surprises around every bend. Sometime the river is calm … Photo by Pat Bean

“Loving oneself isn’t hard when you understand who and what yourself is. It has nothing to do with the shape of your face, the size of your eyes the length of your hair or the quality of your clothes. It’s so beyond all of those things and it’s what gives life to everything about you. Your own self is a treasure.” – Phylicia Rashad

I Do! I Do!

            Vivian Swift, in her book,When Wanderer Cease to Roam,” remembers back to a time when as a 21-year-old she and her then boyfriend, who met in Paris, were absolutely positive they were never going to be anything like their parents.

And sometimes you're just lucky not to have drowned.

… and sometimes you’re just lucky not to have drowned.

The boyfriend became a lawyer, settled down, married, had two kids and they all wear matching outfits for their annual Christmas card photos; Vivian settled down in a small Long Island Village with five cats, and admits that she heard the little girl next door call her the cat lady.

“Our 21-year-old selves would hate us,” she wrote, which of course got me thinking about my own 21-year-old self. I decided that insecure, barefoot and pregnant girl whose primary goal in life was for everyone to like her, would love the assertive, old broad she became. The truth is I didn’t even like myself when I was 21. But I do love the plump, sagging old broad I am at 76.

The years haven’t always been good to me, but they’ve certainly been good for me.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Lessons on Becoming Xena http://tinyurl.com/nfkc5vv This is a Story Circle Network blog. The organization is the best writing support I’ve ever had. Check it out at: http://tinyurl.com/kn5bbrl

 

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The Hoopoe

“You have to know the past to understand the present.” –Carl Sagan          

A Bird from my Past — and Present

No. That bird at the feet of the zebra isn't a Hoopoe. It's a Hammerkop, and one of the 182 life birds I saw on my African safari. -- Photo by Pat Bean

No. That bird at the feet of the zebra isn’t a Hoopoe. It’s a Hammerkop, and one of the 182 life birds I saw on my African safari. — Photo by Pat Bean

I had never heard of such a thing as a Hoopoe until I read John Michener’s novel, The Source. That was a long time ago. The book was published in 1965, and if I remember correctly I read it right after it came out. I was a Michner fan back then.

This is a Wikimedia photo of a Hoopoe. Sadly I didn't get a good photo of he bird when I saw it, which is actually more normal than not. -- Wikimedia photo

This is a Wikimedia photo of a Hoopoe. Sadly I didn’t get a good photo of he bird when I saw it, which is actually more normal than not. — Wikimedia photo

He wrote 27 fictional novels – and not skinny books either – between 1947 and 2007. The first was Tales of the South Pacific, and the last was Matecumbe, published in its unpolished form a year after his death.

Of all Michener’s books, The Source was my favorite. I think it was because of how Michrner used the bird as a literary device, how described it, and how he named one of his characters Hoopoe, and then claimed he had been named after the bird.

When I read The Source those many years ago, I never expected I would ever get to see a Hoopoe. But I did, while on an African safari in 2007. That trip was one of the top two travel experiences of my life. The other was the 1991 trip when I paddled the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. I still don’t know which trip should lead off my travel adventure tales. .

It wasn’t until 1999 that I became a passionate birdwatcher. It’s a hobby that caught me by the heart right when my 20 years of passionate white-water rafting heydays, were coming to an end. Wasn’t I lucky?

I’ve found that life always has questions and surprises – like the Hoopoe – to keep my days interesting. And these days, such surprises seem to engage my brain to make connections with my memories. Life is good. Especially since my back is no longer hurting.

Bean Pat http://tinyurl.com/o2jye94 A fascinating tale of the Hoopoe Bird.

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“With every book you go back to school. You become a student. You become an investigative reporter. You spend a little time learning what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes.”\

This made for a nice reading nook when I was visiting Flagstaff, Arizona, a few years ago. -- Photo by Pat Bean

This made for a nice reading nook when I was visiting Flagstaff, Arizona, a few years ago. — Photo by Pat Bean

Or Not!

            Don Quixote, written in the early 17th century by Miguel de Cervantes, is considered an influential work of literature, and as such, is included on many recommended book reading lists.

A cozy bench to read, or watch birds. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A cozy bench to read, or watch birds. — Photo by Pat Bean

I slogged through the thick two-volume missive, on which is based the play and movie, Man of La Mancha, discovering many thought-provoking ideas that enriched my mind. It was well-worth my reading times.

But while Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is on just about every list of the 100 best travel books, which is a genre I read prolifically and enthusiastically, I haven’t been able to slog through this book. I’ve tried three different times with little success.

I fall asleep, I lay the book aside and somehow it gets lost and I never have the desire to return to it. I just don’t understand Kerouac’s kind of travel. About the only think I truly get about Kerouac and his Beat Generation is this one quote: “What is the feeling when you’re driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their flecks dispersing? It’s the too huge world vaulting us, and its good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

            I use it on the opening page of Travels with Maggie, the travel book I’m hoping to get published soon. I suspect, however, those words might have meant something different to Kerouac than to me – just as all written words mean different things to different writers and different readers.

Something in me says I should give On the Road another try. Something else in me says or not?

Bean Pat: A pleasant and peaceful armchair journey through the Namibia Desert http://tinyurl.com/om4pmks Watch the slide show.

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