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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Six-Word Story

            Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while, so that we can see life with a clearer view again.”  — Alex Tam

There's something about the dawn of a new day that gives my glasses a rose-colored hue. -- Photo by Pat Bean

There’s something about the dawn of a new day that gives my glasses a rose-colored hue. — Photo by Pat Bean

Sometimes I Cry Myself to Sleep

I used to do just that. But not in a long, long time.  My life these days is just too damn good.

And before you know it, the world is filled with light once again. -- photo by Pat Bean

And before you know it, the world is filled with light once again. — photo by Pat Bean

Even back then, when a crisis, unmet desire or problems were almost routine in my life,  my days weren’t all that bad. But there were many nights, from my teens into my 40s, when I curled up in a fetal ball at the midnight hour and cried until I had filled a bucket with tears.

The funny thing was that after the tears were shed, my whole body felt wonderful. There’s a scientific explanation for this phenomenon. While I don’t quite understand it, I do know that the world always seemed more promising and my blessings more abundant after a midnight sob session.

While I’m certainly not sorry I have little to cry about these days, except perhaps the loss of a long-time friend, I kind of miss the tears. Perhaps that’s why I do enjoy a book or movie that touches my soul and turns on the waterworks.

But what’s best of all is writing that makes me both laugh and cry.

So what’s your six-word story?

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: The day after:  http://tinyurl.com/l3e9e2f  This was the blog that got me thinking about my own tears. I love the brightness of her words about the morning sun making all things better. I totally agree.

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A Dead Mouse in the House

“If you can dream it, you can do it. Remember this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.”  — Walt Disney

Just playing around with color. -- By Pat Bean

Just playing around with color. — By Pat Bean

A Mind-Boggling Journey

I’ve been house-sitting my daughter’s home and five pets (two dogs, two cats and a horse) this past week. It’s a large house with TVs in almost every room, including a large flat screen in a family room that my entire apartment would almost fit into.

My daughter's West Tucson backyard is full of cactus, but this sketch of saguaros was made from a view of the Catalina Mountains closer to  my East Tucson nest.

My daughter’s West Tucson backyard is full of cactus, but this sketch of saguaros was made from a view of the Catalina Mountains closer to my East Tucson nest.

It was a whole different environment from my own little nest, which has no TV. I decided to just go with the flow, especially after I discovered an NCIS marathon on the boob tube. After all, I was only going to be here for three days.

But then my daughter’s family decided to expand their spring break for a day because everyone was having so much fun. Then it got expanded for them for another day because Dad got vertigo and couldn’t travel for 24 hours.

When I got that news, I decided perhaps I should get my butt out of the comfortable recliner that sat in front of the TV and catch up on e-mail, my writing, do a little art, and post a blog. That’s when I discovered the dead mouse.

But it wasn’t an eek moment. It was a time for a visit to the computer store. Suddenly I felt the whole world had changed while I had my back turned doing something else. I had gone from a childhood, in which my geometry teacher told me man would never get to the moon – and relying on my cat to catch the mouse that had invaded my bedroom – to being annoyed that my access to the whole Web World was hindered because of a dead mouse.

I was awed just thinking about it.

Bean Pat: Birding in Cape Town http://tinyurl.com/nny3ucq A delightful armchair journey.

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Another thing that travel writer Catherine Watson share is that we've both visited the Galapagos and were fascinated by the wildlife, like this tortoise I watched on Santa Cruz Island. == Photo by Pat Bean

Another thing that travel writer Catherine Watson and I share is that we’ve both visited the Galapagos and were fascinated by the wildlife, like this tortoise I watched on Santa Cruz Island. == Photo by Pat Bean

            “What is a fear of living? It’s being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself – for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don’t know what you’re here to do, then just do some good.”—Maya Angelou

The Colors of Fear

            I just read the last chapter in Catherine Watson’s travel book, “Home on the Road.”  I understood the title perfectly as the road is where I, too, feel most at home. Catherine and I are both addicted wanderers. The travel bug bit her when she read the Tarzan books. It hit me when I read Osa Johnson’s “I Married Adventure.” Both of us at the time were still a few years away from being teenagers.  Both of us went on to become journalists – and. being of a similar age, both of us were taught as children how to hide beneath our school desks, cover our heads and close our eyes in case of a nuclear bomb attack by our arch-enemy, Russia.

And visited Ecuador, where I (I don't know where she stayed) stayed at this hotel in Guayaquil. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And we have both visited Ecuador, where I (I don’t know where Catherine  stayed) stayed at this hotel in Guayaquil. — Photo by Pat Bean

The last chapter in “Home on the Road” talks about those Cold War days, and how Catherine’s fears of being nuked negatively impacted her life. Looking back on my own life, I now wonder if that’s when I first begin sticking my head in the sand to block out bad stuff happening around me so I could pretend all was right with my world.

I suspect, having overcome our fears, is why Catherine and I can both fearlessly travel alone to unknown places, and why we’re not obsessively fearful of terrorist alerts, that after 9-11 varied in degree by designated  color – with blue being the lowest danger alert and red being the highest danger.

I can no longer stick my head in the sand and say the danger isn’t real, and even more dangerous than our Cold War fears. But I choose not to live my life in fear.

Catherine’s last story in her travel book related the fears she had as a child to what she was seeing when she took a 1979 Trans-Siberian Railroad trip across the then Soviet Union to get a “first-hand look at the country I’d spent my childhood being afraid of, The truth hit me hardest in Irkutsk…. Half the population was living in log cabins without indoor plumbing…. I watched old people wearing heavy clothes against the cold, carrying buckets and trudging slowly along dirt streets to get to the neighborhood water pipe, and suddenly I was flooded with anger.

“For this? ‘I thought,’ For this I gave up my childhood?”

She went on to say that this time around she refused to be afraid. I guess one time was enough for me, too. But I wonder what negative impacts young children today are suffering because our primary colors have become symbols of danger?

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat:  Bella Remy’s photos  http://tinyurl.com/n4rpcp2  Great photos of a pair of hoodies, also known as hooded mergansers. Looking at them makes up for the fact I was too slow to photograph the gila woodpecker that stood on my balcony rail this morning. Life is good.

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            “…You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” – Collette

            “Hope is the thing with white feathers that perches in the soul.” -- Emily Dickinson -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Hope is the thing with white feathers that perches in the soul.” — Emily Dickinson — Photo by Pat Bean

From My 1980 Journal

   “Never grow a wishbone where your backbone ought to be …” – Clementine Paddleford

            “You’ve to rattle your cage door. You’ve got to let them know that you’re in there, and that you want out. Make noise! Cause trouble! You may not win right away, but you’ll sure have a lot more fun.” – Florence Kennedy.

            “Make policy, not coffee.” – Motto of the women’s political caucus.

            “We don’t want to be the same as men, merely equal as human beings.” – Margaret Heckler

            “The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions.” – Ellen Glassgow

            “Hope is the thing with white feathers that perches in the soul.” — Emily Dickinson

            “You can’t change the music of your soul.” – Katharine Hepburn

I think I’m picking up a theme. How about you?

Bean Pat: Peter Grandbois  http://tinyurl.com/lvrq526 Ode to Failure. Great essay

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Reading Habits

            “Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” – John Locke

I'm currently reading, "We Wanted to be Writers: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers' Workshop," -- and loving it. I was fascinated by how many writers also wanted to be artists but chose writing -- which sort of fits me, too. This quick watercolor was part of a sky exercise I did a few years ago.

I’m currently reading, “We Wanted to be Writers: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop,” — and loving it. I was fascinated by how many writers also wanted to be artists but chose writing — which sort of fits me, too. This quick watercolor was part of a sky exercise I did a few years ago.

Do Blogs Fit In the Picture?

            When I was young, books were my escape into another world, one far more interesting than the one in which I lived. Since it wasn’t until I was well into my 20s that I knew I wanted to be a writer, I didn’t see books much beyond the fantasy lives they offered me.

I especially loved reading travel books, and it was from them that I started my first bucket list.

Another of my watercolor sky exercises. -- Art by Pat Bean

Another of my watercolor sky exercises. — Art by Pat Bean

Then, as a journalist, books became learning tools that helped take me from a wet-behind-the-ears reporter to star reporter at a small newspaper in just four years. I had dropped out of school at 16, but didn’t let my prospective managing editor know that when he hired me as a darkroom flunky when I was 27.

I then worked doubly hard and wormed my way up to being a reporter (the job I wanted but wasn’t hired for) in just five months. I credit all the reading I did after I dropped out of school as being the magic that propelled me forward in my chosen career, including finally getting me into college without a high school diploma.

But it wasn’t until I retired, and my life was less filled with distractions, that I started looking at books from a writer’s point of view – even though I was a writer. .

I began admiring great metaphors, and was inspired to write better ones. I wondered how one author kept me turning pages, while yet another had me stopped reading before I had read a dozen pages. It added a deeper dimension to my reading, especially when I started reading with a notebook and pen by my side.

The latest additions to my reading habits are blogs. I’ve always loved reading people’s journals – and this is exactly what many personal blogs are, and the ones I’m most likely to read. I’ve made friends with some bloggers, ones who make me feel as if I’m not alone in how I think, and others that make me think about things differently. I feel lucky to have such a cache of reading at my computer fingertips. Life is good!

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: I can’t do this until I do that http://tinyurl.com/kfmfnqt This blog was one that reminded me I was not alone.

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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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             “The best travel is a leap in the dark. If the destination were familiar and friendly, what would be the point of going there?” – Paul Theroux

Recent art: Just as writers see through different eyes, so do artists. I call this recent pieces, with it wrong-way leaning trees, Runoff. The scene reminds me of the mountain backdrop in my former Ogden, Utah, home.

Recent art: Just as writers see through different eyes, so do artists. I call this recent piece, with it wrong-way leaning trees, Runoff. The scene reminds me of the mountain backdrop in my former Ogden, Utah, home.

            “There are still too many places to go, too many people to meet, too many good stories to hear, and they all tug at my imagination. Home and away, I see now, are the yin and yang of travel. Both are part of the same journey.” – Catherine Watson One is Not Like the Other I’m not sure how it came to be, because while I’m always reading five or more books at the same time, only one of them is usually a travel book. However, there are currently two in this genre on my reading table, “Dark Star Safari” by Paul Theroux, and “Home on the Road,” by Catherine Watson. Theroux, whom I once heard speak at a writer’s conference, has written over 35 books, his best known being “The Great Railway Bazaar first published in 1975. It’s about a 1973 four-month journey by train from London through Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and a return trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway. It is considered a classic in the travel-writing genre.

I had this scrap of good art paper, 6X11 inches, and decided to do a quick watercolor of some flowers from a photo I posted a week or so ago.  I added the cat  as s surprise.

I had this scrap of good art paper, 6X11 inches, and decided to do a quick watercolor of some flowers from a photo I posted a week or so ago. I added the cat as s surprise.

“Home on the Road” is just Watson’s second book, her first being ”The Road Less Traveled,” which was first published in 2005 –  during the second of my nine years traveling full-time across country in my RV. I’m not sure where I was when I bought the book, but I did so without a second thought. Its title perfectly matched my goal of traveling only backroads and avoiding interstates and freeways as if their paths were flowing lava. Theroux’s writing constantly sends me to an atlas, a dictionary or Wikipedia. I love it, because I’m always learning something new. But the reading is slow; I’m sure the deliciously exotic “Dark Star Safari” will be stuck on my reading table long after “Home on the Road”  is back on my bookshelf or passed along to another reader. Watson’s writing, meanwhile, has a quite familiar flavor to it. Not only are the author and I of the same gender – there is no doubt in my mind but that men and women see and think differently – we also share journalism backgrounds. We’ve learned to seldom use a word readers don’t understand, and we both have the knack of letting a reader stand beside us and see what we are seeing. It’s easy reading — even when the setting is foreign. Both authors are writing award winners, and reading them together and having a prime opportunity to compare their writing styles, is a fantastic writer’s dinner. Like most things in life, it is not that one writing style, or book, is better than the other, just different. I Bean Pat: Gray plovers and ruddy turnstones http://tinyurl.com/ovtg3m9 This blog and photos remind me of the wonderful walks I take with my son Lewis when I visit the Texas Gulf Coast and we walk out on the Quintana Jetty. It is where I saw my first purple sandpiper, plus lots of ruddy turnstones.

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