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I didn't capture the rainbow in Jasper National Park, but I did manage to get one on another road trip when I visited South Dakota. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I didn’t capture the rainbow in Jasper National Park, but I did manage to get one on another road trip when I visited South Dakota. — Photo by Pat Bean

2001 Memories of a Non-Wandering Wanderer

I left Jasper at sunrise, and with a magnificent rainbow welcoming in the day. The first part of the drive took me through Jasper National Park, the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Elk, longhorn sheep, deer and Stone Mountain sheep (which I hope stayed in the park because these cousins of Dall sheep are popular with trophy hunters made themselves visible on the road between Jasper, Grand Cache and Grand Prairie.

Alberta’s Grand Prairie, aptly named and then nicknamed the Swan City, adopted the trumpeter swan as its symbol because of its proximity to the bird’s migration route and its summer nesting grounds. The trumpeter is North America’s largest water bird. It can weigh up to 25 pounds, almost double the weight of the tundra swan that was a familiar sight in Northern Utah where I lived back then.

Of course I hoped to see a trumpeter this day. But I didn’t. Drat it!

Dawson Creek and the Mile 0 Post that represents the start of the Alaskan Highway. -- Wikimedia photo

Dawson Creek and the Mile 0 Post that represents the start of the Alaskan Highway. — Wikimedia photo

I made it to Dawson Creek in time for lunch, even though it was a 325-mile drive from Jasper. Three hundred miles was usually the goal I set for myself most of the days on the month-long adventure.

Dawson Creek, named after the creek that runs through it, which was named after George Mercer Dawson, a member of his land survey team that passed through the area in 1879. The small town’s primary claim to fame is that it is where the Alaskan Highway begins. The town’s population was larger when the highway was being constructed during World War II. The highway, at first unpaved and with almost too many bridges to count, was built to connect the United States with its Alaskan Territory through Canada. Alaska didn’t become a state until 1959.

When completed in 1942, the highway was 1,700 miles long. Today it’s about 300 miles less because of constant straightening and restoration work. When I drove the highway in 2001, it was said to be paved the entire distance – Not true, I discovered.

Bean Pat: This one is for writers who receive rejections: https://millieschmidt.wordpress.com/2016/11/16/ And isn’t that all of us?

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  “A woman’s mind is cleaner than a man’s. She changes it more often.” – Oliver Herford

            “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius

The story of how the magpie became my animal totem would make a good first chapter  for my bird book. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The story of how the magpie became my animal totem would make a good first chapter for my bird book. — Photo by Pat Bean

It’s OK to Change One’s Mind

I’m not sure where I got it in my head that once I made a decision I had to follow through on it, but it got me in trouble in my earlier years. Young minds don’t always make the right choices.

Old minds don’t either.

But more often than not, the choices and decisions we make in life, especially those we make on a daily basis, have nothing to do with right or wrong. They are simply choices, like the one I made recently to do NANO in November, which is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

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And I can write about my experience of seeing California condors flying free  over Zion National Park, and all the times I wrote about them when I was a reporter. -- Wikimedia phoot by Phil Armitage.

And I can write about my experience of seeing California condors flying free over Zion National Park, and all the times I wrote about them when I was a reporter. — Wikimedia photo by Phil Armitage.

Along with making that choice, I also made a decision to make my proposed book a mystery, and dedicated yesterday to working on an outline for it. Instead, I kept putting the task off and spent most of the day reading. The truth was I couldn’t come up with a good plot.

Then this morning I got to thinking. I have three completed (not sure how many uncompleted) first drafts of mysteries in my writing files, which I have no inclination to take to polished completion. I don’t think I need another.

Meanwhile, for the past year I have been outlining a book about my bird-watching experiences. I have numerous anecdotes about this late-blooming passion of mine. Why not, I thought, write my bird book for my NANO project?

The decision felt right. And suddenly I was more enthusiastic about my November writing marathon. Of course, I could change my mind again.

Learning to be comfortable with not having one’s decisions written in cement, even for life-changing choices, has made life a lot easier and more pleasant for me. Perhaps that’s because I make a lot of hummingbird-wing-quick decisions without thinking everything out fully first.

Patience simply isn’t a virtue in my mind. And while I believe, unlike Oliver Herford whose quote began this blog, that men change their minds as often as woman, I do believe I have a very clean mind.

Bean Pat: Hanging out: in Puerto Iguazu http://tinyurl.com/h6rg4vm A nice and easy day of armchair travel

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A Novel Idea

“There are times when a feeling of expectancy comes to me, as if something is there, beneath the surface of my understanding, waiting for me to grasp it.” – Sylvia Plath

Laughing gulls on Mustang Island on the Texas Gulf Coast, not too far from where Ridley sea turtles have nested. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Laughing gulls on Mustang Island on the Texas Gulf Coast, not too far from where Ridley sea turtles have nested. — Photo by Pat Bean

A November Challenge

This makes the seventh year I’ve signed up to do NANO, which is short for National Novel Writing Month that takes place November. The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

A Ridley sea turtle laying her eyes on a Texas Gulf Coast beach. -- National Park Service photo.

A Ridley sea turtle laying her eyes on a Texas Gulf Coast beach. — National Park Service photo.

I actually completed the goal, and got my certificate, once. It was a great writing exercise but I ended up with a wobbly first draft whose protagonist I had fallen out of love with, and so that’s as far as I took the project. I’m hoping to do a little better this time around, which is why I’m now working on an outline of the mystery novel I’m planning on writing in November.

The last time I flew by the seat of my pants only. I wrote a mystery the first time around as well, and am repeating the genre because I love reading mysteries – the ones that focus on who-dun-it instead of blood and gore.

A just hatched sea turtle ready to battle its way to the ocean. -- U.S. Fish and Wildlife photo

A just hatched sea turtle ready to battle its way to the ocean. — U.S. Fish and Wildlife photo

I’m going to use the things I liked from my first NANO completion, mainly the setting along the Texas Gulf Coast and the story of the endangered Ridley sea turtles, but with new characters and a new plot.

Anyone interested in joining the challenge with me can sign up at: http://nanowrimo.org/   It’s free, and not a contest. The only person you have to please is yourself.

My goal for doing the challenge, besides completing a first draft of a novel, is to get myself back into the habit of writing more consistently on a daily basis.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Wish me luck!

Bean Pat: Glassine Visions http://tinyurl.com/h7gfdxn For Dale Chihuly fans.

P.S. Re NANO: Since 2006, hundreds of novels first drafted during NANO have been published. You can check out the list at: http://nanowrimo.org/published-wrimos

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Butterflies -- that's another magical word. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Butterflies — that’s another magical word. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.” Buddha

Magical Words

            When I was a kid, I often told those who bullied me that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” What a crock of bull. I was hurting from their words even as I quoted the saying.

 

Friendship and Contentment. The two best friends,  Pepper and Dusty seem contented as they share a patch of sunshine.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Friendship and Contentment. The two best friends, Pepper and Dusty seem contented as they share a patch of sunshine. — Photo by Pat Bean

           This morning, as I was reading a blogger who listed 50 things that made her happy, I started my own list, and at some point the word “words” was added to the list, which made me want to start a list of my favorite words.

            Cacophony was the first one that came to mind. I’m not sure why, but the first time I came across this word – and then looked up its meaning – I loved it, and was/still am always trying to find a way to use it in my writing.

            I then thought of words that seem magical because of their meanings — or personal connotations. Peace and love led the list, followed by these 10:

            Grandchildren, Travel, Nature, Pepper (my dog, not the spice), Books, Inquisitiveness, Art, Friendship, Birds and Contentment – the last a state of being that only now am I coming to find in my life because of words like restlessness and ambition that are much a part of me.

            What words are magical to you? This inquiring mind wants to know.

            Bean Pat: 20 Minutes a Day http://tinyurl.com/hgnheby This flash fiction story by one of my favorite bloggers ends with words that I’m now incorporating into my life.

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            “Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.” — Charles Eames

            “People find meaning and redemption in the most unusual human connections.” Khaled Hosseini

This photo was taken over 30 years ago, when I played Mrs. Zubrisky, as did actress and author Mary Louise Wilson. That's a very young looking me sitting on the left. What a wonderful memory

This photo was taken over 30 years ago, when I played Mrs. Zubritsky, as did actress and author Mary Louise Wilson. That’s a very young looking me sitting on the left. What a wonderful memory

Books Bring Me Joy

            I just started reading Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard when a small sentence let me know how much I was going to enjoy this book. “But then some people bird watch,” said the book’s protagonist, which let me know, in a whispered writer’s voice, that the author knew all about crazy bird watchers – like me.

            A bit later on she said of her husband: “It takes more than 10 years in bed with an American to cure a European of his natural reserve.” I connected with this sentence because I understand how different people are, and that you never truly get to know them – even if you sleep with them for years.

            It’s these kinds of personal connections that give me so much pleasure in reading these days. And since I have a lot of living behind me, I’m able to make more and more connections with each passing year.

            I thought about this as I was reading My first Hundred Years in Show Business by Mary Louise Wilson this

Mary Louise Wilson

Mary Louise Wilson

morning. I’m not sure anyone but someone involved in theater would truly understand and appreciate the book. But, since I was very involved with amateur Little Theater during the 22 years I lived in Ogden, I’m loving it.

            Even so, I didn’t have any real connection with the author until she began writing about her role in Neil Simon’s little known play “Fools.” It’s a fantastic play about this village that has been cursed with stupidness, and Mary Louise and I both played the role of the intellectually-challenged wife, Mrs. Zubritsky.

            When she described how in the play, when she was supposed to open a door but couldn’t, that she decided to pull on the handle instead of push, I connected. It was exactly how I had dealt with the same door scene. And we also reacted the same way in the play when the husband asks his wife to lower her voice. To comply, we both decided to bend our knees.

            Reading My First Hundred Years in Show Business is bringing back wonderful memories – what fun!

            There is no question but that books are wonderful. But when you can make a connection with them, they become magical.

            Bean Pat: Wanderlust http://tinyurl.com/j4rbmb5 I easily connected with this blog and blogger because we share a passion for travel.

P.S. If you’re interested you can type in Fools, Neil Simon and find videos of scenes from Fools.

 

 

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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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Most recent watercolor and pen painting. -- By Pat Bean

Most recent watercolor and pen painting. — By Pat Bean

“To love doing one thing doesn’t mean one does not love doing other things.” – Pat Bean

And I Have No One to Blame but Myself

The painting before that. I'm guess I'm in a flowery mood.-- By Pat Bean

The painting before that. I’m guess I’m in a flowery mood.– By Pat Bean

My brain’s on overload after I wrote down all the things I must do or want to do this week, which involves six writing projects (two with upcoming deadlines), a Barry Manilow concert tonight, a play reading Friday night, a bit of painting when I can fit it in, dog walking and sitting (my part-time job), upgrade my computer to Windows 10, a delayed birthday dinner at my daughter’s Thursday, plus reading and cleaning my apartment, etc., etc., etc.

How does a supposedly retired person get herself into so much chaos? Something in me must love chaos. But I’m not going to have time to figure it out this week. I’m going to be too busy.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Where’s my Backpack http://tinyurl.com/jy4coej Find out how the Devil lost his thumb. Great armchair travel story.

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