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Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Two Dogs

 

Dusty and me relaxing at Jean’s place. — Photo by Jean Gowen

If dogs could talk it would take a lot of the fun out of owning one.” Andy Rooney A Blonde and A Brunette

            Pepper and Dusty are the best of friends.

Pepper is my canine companion, a black Scottie mix who adopted me at an animal shelter in Plano, Texas in April of 2012. I had just recently lost my canine traveling companion, Maggie, who is featured in my soon to be released book, Travels with Maggie, and I still was quite sad.

 

Dusty did it. Well, OK, we did it together. — Photo by Pat Bean

When I visited the animal sanctuary, my fourth of the day, I sat down to watch the dogs playing in the yard. Pepper saw me, ran over and jumped up in my lap, looked into my eyes and communicated that she was going home with me. It took all of 15 seconds for us to bond, never mind that I was looking for a bit older cocker spaniel and not a rowdy four-month old terrier.

My sadness, however, lessened, although I still think of, and miss, Maggie, and her predecessor, Peaches, too.

Dusty, the blonde and an undetermined mixed-breed, belongs to my good friend, Jean. She was also rescued from an animal shelter – and is the first dog Jean has ever owned. It was a match made in heaven between them, as far as love goes, but there were immediate problems. Jean is a high school culinary teacher, and Dusty turned out to be a dog who couldn’t stand being alone while her mistress was at work.

Before Dusty could completely tear up her owner’s apartment, or get her owner evicted, Jean and I met, and I began baby-sitting Dusty at my apartment. Pepper eagerly waits for her arrival each morning, around 7 a.m. When Jean leaves, the two dogs begin their day of shenanigans. They gang up on me when they want treats, have frequent friendly tussles and games of tug of war, and stare meaningfully into my eyes when they want a walk or their water or food bowl is empty.

When I have to run errands, I cue them to “Guard the Castle,” at which time they both retreat to a different corner and give me woeful looks. They behave while I’m gone, but on my return I am savaged with their kisses and attention.

About 4 p.m., they both settle in by the front door, waiting for Jean’s return. By this time Dusty is ready to once again become an only child, as is my Pepper. When Jean arrives, they both greet her with the same savage attention and kisses I get when I return from being gone, even if it’s only five minutes to take out the garbage.

The two dogs make sure we two humans never feel unloved.

I think we’re doubly-blessed. Don’t you?

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Sanctuary for the Wild Soul http://tinyurl.com/lnqy3u7 These photos speak a thousand words that all say serenity.

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The cover for Travels with Maggie, which I had designed back in 2014.

“It is always better when you give a damn.” – John D. MacDonald

Coming to the End of a Long Road

In May of 2006, I left my youngest daughter’s home in Camden, Arkansas. Six months later, in time for Thanksgiving dinner, I arrived at my oldest daughter’s home on the outskirts of Dallas.

In-between, my canine companion, Maggie, and I traveled 7,000 miles in a small RV, through 23 states and Canada, to Maine, where we stood on top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park one morning to get this country’s first ray of sunlight.

The Mark Twain Lighthouse in Hannibal, Missouri, which I climbed up to explore during my Travels with Maggie. — Photo by Pat Bean

The in-between miles are the topics of my book, Travels with Maggie, which soon will be available at Amazon. It’s part travelogue, part memoir, part bird book, part nature book, and part about one woman’s conversations with her dog. I think it would fit nicely on a book shelf between John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley and Charles Kuralt’s On the Road, with Peter Cashwell’s The Verb to Bird nearby.

But this book is written with a feminine voice, that of an old-broad, wandering-wonderer.

This week I put the mechanics of putting Travels with Maggie up on Amazon into the hands of an angel who, unlike me, knows what she is doing. I spent three frustrated weeks trying before I finally gave up.

A view from Acadia National Park in Maine, which was the destination of my journey. — Photo by Pat Bean

Late yesterday evening, when I was having a Jack and Coke on my back balcony with my friend, Jean, who needed it after her high school teaching day, to celebrate the new stage of my book, I suddenly found myself crying.

I’m not exactly sure why.

My book, whose first draft was named one of the top 10 when it was entered in a Mayborn Non-Fiction Writing Workshop contest, has now been through five rewrites, edits and proofings.

The second rewrite was a major one to add voice, which I had omitted because I was trying to hide the fact I was an old-broad. The Mayborn critiques, all of them, said this was the book’s one major fault – and I knew immediately they were right.

The third rewrite was mostly a polishing of my writing, as was the fourth. The fifth was

Mostly a typo-catching read-through. And there will be a sixth proofing yet to come. This is a 75,000-word manuscript so each of these steps took some time.

My dream of writing just such a book is over a half-century old, during which time the whole world of publishing changed. I was reluctant to let go of the traditional world, but finally decided I didn’t have the time to wait around any longer. In the traditional world, the publisher would have done the marketing for the book. In today’s world, most writers are now having to accomplish this step themselves.

It’s what I am going to have to do – and telling my blog readers about my book is a first step toward that goal. Whew! I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders for writing this. I’ll now let you follow each step of getting Travels with Maggie out there with me. Maybe you’ll even buy my book when it’s finally out to the public.

Bean Pat: Citizen Sketcher http://tinyurl.com/k9xrpq4 I love the watercolors on this blog, and the artist’s celebration of them. Reminds me of my current celebration.

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Alone or Lonely

      “We are all sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins, for life.” Tennessee Williams

That's my canine companion Pepper on the right playing tug of war with her best forever girlfriend Dusty. -- Photo by Pat Bean

That’s my canine companion Pepper on the right playing tug of war with her best forever girlfriend Dusty. — Photo by Pat Bean

Shared Touch and Thoughts

I’m a single woman who lives alone, and sleeps with her canine companion. I’m not the least bit lonely, but the shared warmth of another creature curled up against my back gives me great comfort, I thought about this as I awoke this morning, and felt Pepper’s small body snug against mine.

And here they are sharing a spot of sun. I think I would be lonely without my Pepper, and perhaps she would be lonely too if she didn't see Dusty almost every day. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And here they are sharing a spot of sun. I think I would be lonely without my Pepper, and perhaps she would be lonely too,  if she didn’t see Dusty almost every day. — Photo by Pat Bean

As usual, the second I stirred, my canine companion Pepper became animated, insisting that we go for a walk right this minute! I obliged, taking only as long as it took me to slip on some clothes and smooth down my nest of night hair. Back in my apartment, I put the coffee on, gave Pepper her morning treat, and straightened the kitchen as I waited for the caffeine to brew.

Once settled with a cup of cream-laced java, I wrote in my journal for a bit then picked up a book to read for a bit before getting to one of the things on my always-too-long daily to-do list. The book was Lots of Candles Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen, whose essays remind me a lot of Ellen Goodman, who is 11 years younger than Anna and of my generation.

I recently came across a column about turning 40 written by Ellen that I had saved in my journal. Anna’s essay, which I was reading this morning, was also about aging, but written from the prospective of a woman in her 50s; so I guess it’s really true. Fifty is the new 40.

As one who was a journalist for 37 years, I’m drawn to the writing of these two women, who are both Pulitzer-Prize winning columnists. Reading their thoughts, which in many instances mirror my own, gives me as much companionship as does my Pepper.

I’m thankful I have family and friends who are there for me, both for companionship and for when I need them, but I’m also thankful for all the time I have to be alone. I’ve considered myself an extrovert for most of my life, and that is indeed a part of who I am, but as I look back on my busy, chaotic life, I realized I was always looking for a spare minute just to be with myself.

These days I have that time — but I don’t think it would be nearly as enjoyable as it is without a canine companion, good books, and friends and family out there when you need them. But then perhaps that’s not being alone at all.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: In the Paw Prints of Lions http://tinyurl.com/z7zhjrh Watching lions in Africa was one of the highlights of my African safari to Kenya and Tanzania – and I liked this blog because of the good memories it leaked into my head. But our guide always made us stay in the Land Rover.

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“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to it original dimension.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The first week of January, 2013,  at my brand new apartment. I didn't know how unusual the now was in Tucson. I haven't seen it in the city since. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The first week of January, 2013, at my brand new apartment. I didn’t know how unusual that was in Tucson. I haven’t seen snow in the city since. — Photo by Pat Bean

2016 is Almost Here

I hope all my readers have good times, good laughs and lots of hugs this holiday season. I’ll see you again in 2016 when my goal is to do five blogs a week.

Pepper -- Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper — Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper says hi, too.

 

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Falling Down

A blast from the past: Me and Maggie hiking Mount Ogden's foothills.  -- Photo by Pat Bean.

A blast from the past: Me and Maggie hiking Mount Ogden’s foothills. — Photo by Pat Bean.

It is necessary for a man to go away by himself, to sit on a rock and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?” Carl Sandburg

We Should All Do It More

            When I was learning to ski, I would sit down the second I felt out of control. But eventually I learned to stay in control and then I seldom ever fell down.

So what does my skiing instructor tell me? “You’re not falling down enough,” he said.

It was a strange comment, but I immediately understood what he meant. He was telling me that I was playing it too safe, and that this was keeping me from getting better.

The fear of falling, call it failure, is still a fault of mine. Looking back now, I realize that this fear held me back from moving forward many times over the years. I don’t know about you, but getting up seems to be the easy part for me. .

Bean Pat: Remembering http://tinyurl.com/p7byop4 I’ve had writer’s block the past couple of weeks, which is almost a first for me. This blog gave me a helpful push in the right direction.

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Belly-laughing

There’s nothing I like better than a good belly laugh, one that shakes my body from head to toe and almost makes me pee.

I was stopped at a red light and despite a fit of laughter, I managed to snap a photo of this bumper sticker through my front windshield. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I was stopped at a red light and despite a fit of laughter, I managed to snap a photo of this bumper sticker through my front windshield. — Photo by Pat Bean

Evidently I’m not alone.

  “At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”  Jean Houston

            “The most wasted of all days is that in which we have not laughed”  — Sébastien-Roch Nicolas

            “Laughter is an instant vacation.” – Milton Berle

            “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.” — Yiddish Proverb

            “A good time to laugh is any time you can.” — Linda Ellerbee

            “Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects.” — Arnold Glasow

            “When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing each other.” — Alan Alda

            “The most wasted day of all is one without laughter.” – e.e. cummings

            “There is little success where there is little laughter.” – Andrew Carnegie

Bean Pat: dogdaz http://tinyurl.com/ncdcw2o As an animal lover, these photos made me almost pee.

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“Then I beheld the river … journeying out of the grey past into the green future.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Then I beheld the river … journeying out of the grey past into the green future.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson — Photo by Pat Bean

“Come, let us not be an appendage to Alexander, Charles V., or any of history’s heroes. Dead men all! For me, the earth is new today, and the sun is raining light.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Thoughts from the Past

            I have 50 years of journals stashed away in bins, most of which, once finished, have never been opened again. The early years of my journaling were a haphazard kind of thing, cheap steno pads, sometimes with only a few pages filled and more dates missing than captured.

Sometime in the 1980s, I switched to fancy journals, and filled them more faithfully. By the 1990s, journaling had become almost a daily routine. Recently I decided I should try reading my past thoughts, and so I randomly chose a journal in which to begin.

Me and Peaches on one of many hikes. She loved hiking as much as she loved tennis balls. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

Me and Peaches on one of many hikes. She loved hiking as much as she loved tennis balls. — Photo by Kim Perrin

The journal I picked chronicled the end of 1998 and the beginning of 1999. It was a time when my canine companion was a golden cocker spaniel named Peaches, who was addicted to tennis balls.

Dec. 19, 1998. It’s snowing outside, steady, tiny flakes that stuck to Peaches fur.… I feel as if I would like to sit here all day, curled up in the comfy, warm quilt Cindi (my daughter-in-law) gave me, and simply watch the snow fall. No such luck. Instead, I’ll read a few pages of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Journal, throw a few tennis balls for Peaches, then go to work.”

In various forms, the above was pretty much the gist of what I wrote again and again for the next few days, always mentioning the tennis ball routine with Peaches, and the snowy weather in Northern Utah.

I also recorded numerous RWE quotes into my journal from his journal. Here are a few:

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 indescribable sunrise and the immortal stars. If we believed no poet survived on the planet, nature would be tedious.”

            “There is creative reading as well as creative writing.”

            “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, hospitable the splendor of sun and star. I will play my game out.”

            “Some books leave us free and some books make us free.”

            “The gates of thought – how slow and late they discover themselves. Yet when they appear, we see that they were always there, always open.”

I was amazed, reading Emerson, how alike were so many of my own thoughts, especially the one that would find its way onto my resolution list for 1999: “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.”

And through all this journaling, Peaches was there with me, sometimes sharing my chair, but mostly standing before me with a tennis ball in her mouth that she wanted me to throw for her to fetch. I am so blessed to have had her in my life, and for Ralph Waldo Emerson, too.

Bean Pat: Express yourself http://tinyurl.com/q93e2pn I like this blog because it encourages me to express myself more with my words. I hope it encourages you to be more expressive in your own way, too.

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