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Archive for the ‘Journeys’ Category

Thorny Neighbors

I call this saguaro Old Man. I found him while walking a wash near my daughter’s home here in Tucson. He fell over and bit the dusk not too long afterward. — Photo by Pat Bean

Saguaros come in all sizes and shapes. Is it my imagination, or do you think this one is giving the finger to the low-flying balloon. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr

Heat’s Up in Tucson

A cholla cactus in bloom. — Photo by Pat Bean

The temperature was 115 here in Tucson yesterday. Yuck! You need to be a cactus to survive in this weather, I think.

And then I remember that in 1956, I moved to the Texas Gulf Coast and didn’t have air conditioning for the next 10 years. How I survived, while changing cloth diapers (four kids in five years) continually for seven of those years, I have no idea.

I guess deep down I’m as tough as a cactus. Or once was. My outdoor adventures currently are confined to walking Maggie in the early mornings when it’s still a bit cool. She just gets taken outside long enough to do her business after that.

And a barrel cactus. — Photo by Pat Bean

Anyway, it seemed an appropriate day to post some of my cactus photos. I hope it’s cooler where you live.

Bean Pat: One of my favorite blogs is Brain Pickings. And I especially like these words of Albert Einstein, which seem especially appropriate these days. http://tinyurl.com/ydhxg629

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Fifty on Fifty

Having time to smell more flowers with the passing years is one blessing of aging. — Photo by Pat Bean

“I don’t want to sound like a Hallmark card, but to be able to wake up each day with food and shelter, that alone is good. Forget aging and the fact that my butt is becoming a little more familiar with my knees than my tailbone, If you are six feet above ground, it’s a good day. So, give me more.” – Faith Hill

Back when I was 60

In the spring of 1999, when I was turning 60, and just beginning to appreciate the beauty of being an old broad, I read a book titled Fifty on Fifty, in which 50 women over 50 talked about life and aging. .

I was fascinated by the book, and wrote at least one quote in my journal from each of the women. Here are some of my favorites:

And every year I live gives me more time to be awed by the wonders of this revolving ball we live on. — Photo by Pat Bean

“I was an oddity, and it played well.” – Geraldine Laybourne

“As women age, they ultimately all learn the same lesson: The only person I can depend on is me.” – Gloria Allred

“You have to do what feels right.” – Cher

“50 – It’s a time to think about your calling, your passions,” – Hillary Clinton

“Surely the consolation prize of age is finding out few things are worth worrying over, and how many things that we once desired, we don’t want anymore.” – Dorothy Dix

“You can’t wait for someone else to start your engine.” – Phyllis George

“No one with a happy childhood ever amounts to much in this world. They’re so well adjusted, they’re never driven to achieve anything.” — Sue Grafton.

“You will never succeed if you try to please too many people or stand in the middle of the road – there is nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow stripe and a dead possum.” – Marion Hammer

“Life definitely gets better – and as your history gets longer, you only get more interesting.” – Laura Hutton

“In the 10 years I’ve been reading death notices, I have yet to encounter the praise: ‘She maintained her ideal weight.’” – Mary Kay Blakely

“Mistakes are the dues we pay for a full life.” – Sophia Loren

“If you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans.” Anne Lamott.

That last one made me laugh, which may be why Lamott is the author of my favorite book on writing, Bird by Bird.

It’s been 18 years since I wrote these quotes in one of my journals, and they still apply.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Potato Pancakes http://tinyurl.com/y9nngaug My grandmother used to make these, and now I’m craving them. I can’t wait to make myself some.

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A Chilean flamingo. — Wikimedia photo

“You were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you.” – Isadora Duncan

They Called Him Pink Floyd

In 1987, a Chilean flamingo escaped from Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City, Utah, then he, or she, eluded all efforts to be recaptured. No one knows where the flamingo migrated to each spring, but the bird was usually spotted every winter for the next 15 plus years on the Great Salt Lake, where it dined on the inland lake’s brine shrimp.

Pink Floyd wasn’t the only thing I saw in Northern Utah. These great blue herons were wintering on Farmington Bay adjacent to the Great Salt Lake. — Photo by Pat Bean

The flamingo became a legend to birders, and someone called it Pink Floyd. The name stuck.

I got a rare, distant glimpse of him in about 2002. His pink coloring made him stick out among a flock of avocets and gulls, which were feeding in shallow waters a goodly way from shore. Pink Floyd was quite an oddity, and I felt privileged to have seen the flamingo, especially since I had become addicted to birding in 1999, and then spent a couple of years on the lookout for Pink Floyd.

Chilean flamingos have a life expectancy of up to 50 years, but Pink Floyd hasn’t been seen since 2005.It is suspected he didn’t survive that winter.

When I sat down to write my blog this morning, I had no idea what I was going to write about. That happens some days. Then suddenly, Pink Floyd pecked my little grey cells and said: Write about me.

Bean Pat: Masterpieces at the Musee d’Orsay http://tinyurl.com/ycgu9aoq Take an armchair tour of a Paris museum. I loved the Van Gogh.

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George Archibald took this photo of me at the end of our tour to see whooping cranes on the Texas Gulf Coast. I’m smiling because I saw these awesome endangered cranes. — Photo by George Archibald

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. John Burroughs

The Man Who Danced with One

A page from my journal with a cutout of George Archibald in his whooping crane outfit.

I just finished reading To See Every Bird on Earth by Dan Koeppel. In it he mentioned George Archibald, a conservationist and co-creator of the International Crane Foundation. A day later, I read another mention about George, this time from one of my own journals. I had met George during a birding festival in Port Aransas in 2009, at which time he talked about the endangered whooping cranes that winter on the Texas Gulf Coast near Port Aransas.

In the 1940s, there were fewer than 25 whooping cranes left in the wild, and only a couple of these giant birds in captivity. Today, because of the efforts of Archibald and others like him, over 300 whoopers are now flying free, migrating between Canada and the lower U.S each year.

Whooping crame on Matagorda Island. — Photo by Pat Bean

During a workshop talk, George put on his crane costume and demonstrated how he danced with an orphan whooping crane chick as a way to teach it to dance the way whooping cranes do to attract and bond with a mate. Whooping cranes have to be taught this, as well as their migration paths, by their parents. Mom and Dad make their first winter migration flight with them.

I took pictures of George in his crane suit, and put some of them in my journal. Then the next day, I took the whooping crane tour aboard the Wharf Cat out to Matagorda Island to see the real whooping cranes. George was aboard and we had a nice long chat about the whoopers, and the work he and others are doing to save the cranes. It was a fascinating couple of days, and I’m glad both the book I was reading and my journals let me relive it.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Interesting Literature http://tinyurl.com/y8casam5 Edward Allan Poe’s The Raven. I first read this when I was nine or 10 years old. Although it was another 15 years before I knew I wanted to be a writer, this poem certainly helped me fall in love with the sound of words, even though I didn’t know what they all meant at the time.

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The ferry from Aransas Pass to Port Aransas on Mustang Island on the Texas Gulf Coast. — Wikimedia photo

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” — Jimmy Dean

And a Journey to Mustang Island

As one who loves road trips, and one who believes the journey is even more important than the destination, I was in high spirits as I drove Gypsy Lee, my 21-foot home on wheels, down Texas’ Highway 35 on a late February day. It was 2009, and my first sojourn after spending the nastier days of winter hanging out in my children’s driveways.

A great egret sat by a small pond near the entrance to Mustang Island State Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

The sun was shining brightly but the day was quite windy. Through my windshield, I could see turkey vultures wobbling in flight and kestrels swaying on roadside wires. Have you ever noticed that these high-wire-loving falcons always seem to face the road and not away from it?

The gray feathers of a mockingbird, the only other bird that seemed to be defying the wind this day, were blown up like a skirt, exposing white feathers as if they were a petticoat. As this Texas state bird winged its way inch by inch into the howling wind. I felt like I was watching a slow-motion vignette.

I sympathized, as I had to keep my hands tightly placed on Gypsy Lee’s steering wheel to keep sudden gusts of winds from blowing her sideways. I gave myself a break from driving by stopping for a bit at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, where I got a distant look at a couple of whooping cranes. I would see these endangered birds up much closer later in the week when, I took a tour boat out of Port Aransas.

A brown pelican and a laughing gull near Port Aransas. Photo by Pat Bean

Back on the road, the wind was still singing loudly, but soon, although many mind musings later, I found myself in Aransas Pass, where I would catch a ferry to take me across to Mustang Island. The ferry docked in Port Aransas, which sits on the northern end of this narrow stretch of water-enclosed land. My destination for the day was Mustang Island State Park on the southern end of the island.

Once hooked up, I enjoyed the remains of the windy Texas day, ending it with a sunset stroll on the beach beneath cackling laughing gulls, and beside white-capped waves rolling up beneath my sandaled feet.

Bean Pat: A slice of life http://tinyurl.com/y9rq4uxv This blog makes me feel gratitude for still being able to enjoy the little things in life.

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A view of the morning sun creeping down the Catalina Mountains from my bedroom balcony. — Photo by Pat Bean

“I love to think that animals and humans and plants and fishes and trees and stars and the moon are all connected.” – Gloria Vanderbilt

And the Plant that Returned to Me

For three years, I looked for a place to settle when I left the life in my 21-foot RV. Nothing called my name, and so I continued living and traveling across this beautiful country for a total of nine years. And glad I am that I did.

The rubber tree plant on my bedroom balcony. It found its way back to me after a 10-year stay with my friend, Kim. — Photo by Pat Bean

But finally, I knew I wanted a hot bath every night, counter tops, access to a local library and a bit more space. What I ended up with was a 625-square-foot apartment in Tucson, Arizona that had my name etched on its front door. While I would now love a second bedroom for guests, the apartment seemed like a castle when I first moved my sparse belongings into it.

It met my requirements of a nice outside space to walk Pepper. It had a view of Mount Lemmon that was similar to the view I had in Ogden, Utah, of my beloved Mount Ogden. And best of all it had both a living room and a bedroom balcony that provided almost the same feeling of living in the outdoors that I so loved so much about my RV life.

My doors to these third-floor patios remain open the majority of the time, being closed only when the outside heat requires that I turn on my air conditioner. Nine months out of the year, I sleep with them open. My balconies are my favorite place to sit with morning coffee, and happy hours with friends in the early evening. From the front balcony, which overlooks the night lights of downtown Tucson, I watch hummingbirds flittering about my nectar feeder.

On the back balcony, which provides the view of the Catalina Mountains, sits a large rubber tree plant, one that I raised from its youth. I gave the plant to my friend Kim when I retired and went off gallivanting in my RV. Once I was rooted again, she asked if I wanted it back. I did. It provides a link to a life that I loved in Ogden, to the life I now love here in Tucson.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Life is good – even without a second bedroom, since my living room couch is pretty comfortable.

Bean Pat: White-faced ibis http://tinyurl.com/y8qus5ty One of my favorite bloggers. If you like birds, you’ll like this one.

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“People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.” – Salma Hayek

Secret, also know as Cecret, Lake in Albion Basin at the top of Cottonwood Canyon in Utah. — Wikimedia photo

A Day to Remember

I’m organizing photos that I removed from albums and put in a box when I got rid of or condensed everything so all my belongings would fit into a small RV back in 2004. Lately, I’ve been rummaging through that box.

Kim and me looking out over Secret Lake. I’m not sure who took the photo, most likely Cory, Kim’s son.

Of the many photos, my favorites are the ones of me enjoying Mother Nature’s outdoor wonders. My long-time friend Kim is there with me in many of these memories, like the one recaptured by the photograph on the right, which was taken at Secret, or Cecret as some people call it, Lake at the top of Albion Basin up Cottonwood Canyon in Utah.

As I recall it was an early July day, which is when spring wakes up in this high country, Notice the snow still visible in the background of the photo. I recall that the meadow at the trailhead, where Kim and I started our hike, as being saturated with wildflowers, Indian paintbrush, columbine, lupine, Jacob’s ladder, beard’s tongue, and elephant’s head (my favorite), just to name a few.

I can’t remember ever seeing so many different wildflowers crowed into one place as I did this day. I do remember trying, unsuccessfully, to name them all. The profusion of wildflowers accompanied Kim and I all the way up to Secret Lake, where we sat for a while enjoying the warm sun.

I’m not sure when this photo was taken, but since I don’t recall bird watching on the hike, I’m pretty sure it was before 1999. That’s when I got addicted to birds, and from that time forward, I was always looking for them. In fact, after that year, I couldn’t not see birds.

Bean Pat: A Slice of Life http://tinyurl.com/kjyblf8 The beauty of a garden, and one magnificent radish

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