Monday, December 15, 2008

Finding my voice

Today was a bus-taking day.  Not my favorite way to get around, but a different perspective from the bike has some benefits.  I grumble, but there are a couple of changes in routine that are somewhat fresh and enjoyable.  For one thing, a small backpack suffices, rather than the two panniers that I normally pack before going out.  No lights, lock and extra rain gear required.  For another, there's more reading time when I travel by bus, and a little more people-watching time too.  I've always enjoyed putting stories to various passengers waiting in terminals or traveling on buses.  On the other hand, the half hour wait at the bus stop today was borderline miserable.  Standing still and/or pacing does not do much to keep the hands warm, even with sheepskin gloves.  I probably could have walked from Trimble and 10th to the gym at Arbutus and Broadway, even with the rather icy sidewalks, more quickly than the combined time it took to walk to the stop, wait for the bus, and wait while passengers loaded at each stop. 

As I was leaving from the backyard to go to the bus stop, my wonderful neighbor was trying to open her window to speak to me.  The window was stuck, I guess with the ice, so she finally just pointed to the bird feeder.  It was being really well used, and she knows I love to take pictures.  I already had my camera out, but for some reason, it's harder to get birds to hang around with the camera pointed at them.  I think they react to the little beeps.  I did get two shots that I like.  I'm not sure if it's the same bird that just moved from one side to the other, and wanted to make sure I checked out both sides of its profile, or if there are two different birds in those photos.  That takes me to the question of whether the two sides of a bird's face are absolutely symmetrical.  If so, then I think there are two different birds, because the brown stripe going back from the eye on the right side is much more distinct.  I notice my neighbor is feeding all sunflower seeds.  When I used to feed birds in Ste. Agathe des Monts (where I lived for ten years in Quebec), and some years later in Montreal, I always started out with a bag of mixed bird feed, and after watching the sunflower seeds picked out and the remainder discarded, eventually gave in to their preference.  
After stepping outside the back gate, I took these two tree-snow pictures.  Pretty, but the limitation on my get-around capability means that I would still choose rain over snow.
Blogger is driving me crazy.  Just thought I'd add that, since the font choice has disappeared, as it usually does about half way through the post. But to continue..

This morning I took Black Jack over to the Point Grey field, hoping to convince her the snow is a fun thing.  We watched two other dogs romping, and I could almost taste her urge to run with them.  Unfortunately, I am terrified to let her off leash.  She is fast.  Super-fast.  The last time I let her run in a park, she led every dog there a merry chase.  Then, the chasing dogs tired and stopped running, but Black Jack kept going, right out of the park and who knows where.  She turned up a half hour later, still running full tilt, across a busy street and into a lane where I was able to catch her.  I do not know how to let her run safely, and it breaks my heart (no exaggeration) that she can't have that run-free time.

Anyhow, with the two dogs wa-a-ay down in the next field, and happily playing together, I dropped the leash, but left it attached, and threw the ball.  This dog saw from wa-a-ay down at the end of the field, tore towards us, and stole the ball right out of Black Jack's mouth.  She isn't one to argue - one thing she does have is really good dog social skills and she clearly understands size advantage.  Really nice dog, even if it did steal the ball.  I talked with its human and learned that it was adopted from the SPCA.  They've been together a year, and are doing really well.  Happy story.   
To add insult to injury, the dog then gave the ball to its play companion.
No pictures, but I picked up the leash, and Black Jack followed these two dogs, quite anxious to join them in play.  I ran with her as fast as my old knees would let me, and she did manage to do a little romping by running circles around me, with the dogs cooperating at first, but finally growing bored.  They took the ball with them, and Black Jack and I returned home.

It is the wee hours of the morning.  I have figured out that I can open two tabs, one for reports and one for the blog.  I do the reports while waiting for pictures to load.  Very slow progress, but slow is better than no.  Yes?  

I titled this blog "Finding my voice" and if anyone is reading, may wonder why.  I'm reading Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones. Today, while reading in the coffee shop before going to the gym, I came to this passage: (Note: this particular shop has not been one of my favorite haunts, but today's latte was pretty decent and the place is conveniently located right at the bus stop)

"Another thing," Mr. Watts said.  "No one in the history of your short lives has used the same voice as you with which to say your name.  This is yours.  Your special gift that no one can ever take from you.  This is what our friend and colleague Mr. Dickens used to construct his stories with."

Mr. Watts stopped to look, checking to see if he was traveling too fast for us and whether what he had said had sunk in.  

I replied with a nod and Mr. Watts continued.

"Now, when Mr. Dickens sat down in 1860 to write Great Expectations, the first thing he did was clear a space for Pip's voice.  That is what we did.  We located that little room in ourselves where our voice is pure and alive.  Mr. Dickens closed his eyes and waited until he heard that first line."

Well, I am realizing that I haven't quite found my own pure and alive voice for this blog.  And I'm realizing that photos are also a voice.  Not a greatly profound thought, but still, a realization.  It will take time, I think.  Although I was always a decent student, I see myself as something of a slow learner in the life process.  The encouraging thing is that, now not so far off from my 62nd birthday, I am continuing to learn.  Maybe I have to look a little harder to find that voice, but I think it will show up in time.  Have to add that the book is making me want to read Great Expectations again.  It was years ago, and I've forgotten most of the details, and the many references to it are tantalizing in their connection to this story.  

Okay, blog time over.  Just one class of reports left.  Will try to do them before I sleep.  


  1. We got home early this morning and wowsers! I hope that you will stay off your bike until this wind and cold subside.

    There is nothing like a long line for letting a dog with poor recall run free (and for helping to improve the recall). I use one on all of our dogs (personal and foster) until they are coming back to me with 95% consistency.

  2. Thanks and welcome back, dp. Must have been a bit of a shock to go from Hawaii to this.

    Taking your advice, albeit somewhat grumpily:)

    Hope Raven is improving and that she and Tonka are not too traumatized by this cold. At least the sun is out, so maybe they prefer sun and snow to warmer and rain-soaked.

    Thanks for the advice for Black Jack. I did use a long line at first but a few times she ran to the end of it and I worried about her throat when she jerked to a stop. But I'm thinking now, I'd better go back to it. Any suggestions for drills? Just call and then tug if no response? Reward if she comes without tugging?

  3. Hey Ms. Blogger! Miss you already!! Hope you got your reports done...have a great break xoxoxB

  4. Hi Aunt Carol,

    Mum just sent me the link to your blog. I enjoyed reading your posts - those lattes look amazing! I also really like the pictures of Bill in the fireplace, and of course, the ones of Black Jack too. I look forward to your next posts :)


  5. Carol, try using the long line with a harness instead of a collar - I have found that very useful for dogs that want to go further than my longline will reach. I use a front-clip harness so running out of leash means turning back in my direction and avoids risk of flipping the dog right over on its back!

    As for finding your voice....I know what you mean. Some of my blog entries come from deep inside me - the words just tumble around inside my head and spill out whether I want them to or not - my voice, definitely. But others "feel" forced, constructed, not my voice. I'm not sure it is something one can learn, but letting my voice come through happens much more often than when I first started to write, and comes much more frequently when I am totally relaxed.
    But, for the record, I love your writing whether it is your voice or not!

  6. Wow! Thanks for the comments, everyone. They are so appreciated!

    K-A. Good to hear from you!! There's a picture of Tova, Ella and Zoe in the last post for October. Now, I need one of Penny:) (Can't seem to figure out how to do a link in the comment box.)

    They're finished, Berenice! But, it's snowing again:( this morning. Guess I'm going to have to start belly-dancing:) Enjoy the holiday. Maybe we can get together? xox

    Jean, that comment really started the wheels rolling as to how I'm defining voice. Your encouragement, time and thoughts are so appreciated, as is the advice about a harness. I'm going to give it another go, because a lifetime of never being able to let Black Jack run free except for those few ball-chasing moments is really sad.