9 Jan 2016, 9:21am
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Happy New Year you who may happen by.

Over the last couple year I have done a inventory of how I use my energy. At the end of 2014, I tested cutting back on going to readings, going to 1 or 2 a month maximum. I thought more about who to spend time with singly or in small groups with the nutrition and depth of talk can be deeper.

Hubby and I have expanded from date day once a week to making sure we spend a meal together each day and some evening time together. How crazy is it that in the old habit the closest a week might come to eye contact is seeing faces on a screen?

Last year we tried to curtail internet eating our lives and this idea of being alwaya-on, always-accessible to no one in particular. We tried turning off the internet on weekends and evenings. This year we took it further and have it on 1.5 hours a day or for a particular need then off again. This seems saner. Less back problems and fewer headaches are probably related.

I aimed to read more slower and wider and write less, but read more and wrote more. As you may have followed at the pesbo blog.

It may not be either extremes that far, but it is a factor.

I have stayed involved with the community, hosting radio, hosting the odd event, judging contests, and on twitter. And then there’s the workshop series, one now, one tbd as an online counterpart and if those go as well as expected, another face to face in summer or fall.

Do you have any last minute impulse to take a poetry workshop? It starts Monday.

23 Nov 2015, 2:04pm
1 comment

Speaking Voices

Women are changing their vocal niche.

Over the past 50 years, women’s voices have dropped significantly. Although women’s voices normally register a full octave higher than men’s voices, today they’re just 2/3rds of an octave higher. [source]

What’s the cause? Equity therefore no need to emphasize distinctions and status difference? In the same timeframe women have almost all got suffrage, are permitted to inherit property, own, rather than be owned and work in many of the same areas as men as men are permitted to be stay at home dads with less flack.

Speech habit is local.In Japan, women have a higher default pitch than English speakers here. T[here’s a Northern Cities Vowel Shift south of the border but how you talk is a function of who you talk with so the vowel shift hasn’t happened in Canada. Would accent shift be related to power? A digression for another day.] Gender and accent are related,

“Women are always at the forefront of the language front,” he said, at least when people are unaware of the trend’s presence. Linguists are not sure why. But they do know that the shift is spreading quickly because it carries no stigma–at least for the most part. [a href=”http://jscms.jrn.columbia.edu/cns/2007-04-10/haynie-vowelshift.html”>source]

As taller are perceived as more dominant, so are deeper voices. Toronto Councillor Karen Stintz lesson to go slower and lower. Why? Pitch and nasality correlates not just with apparent confidence but competence.

Margaret Thatcher got voice lessons from Laurence Olivier to lower her voice by 60 Hertz. She’s not the only one. Australian women speak on average 23 hertz lower than they did in the 1940s.

Society tends to the relaxed, white, heteronormative male as ideal. What position does that put everyone?

Take a deep breath voice.

Why would power be related to pitch?

I’d say that authority tends towards the deepest voice because a person who is relaxed and self-assured confidence is riding a deep breath which results in resonance, projection and more people able to hear and therefore follow.

Fear and illness result in a thin voice and is an indicator of problem. Less dominant people tend to talk from throat squeak, not diaphragm. There are structural differences in size of resonant chamber and shape and function of voice box that make the male more likely to emulate the pitch range of confidence. Those physics unconsciously drive the idea that male is authority.

Subversive to authority in this binary is that higher pitches are a marked form as lower status, as in female, gay, child, and East Indian stereotype.

It’s not only pitch but speed and control.


To be rushed is to be defensive, trying to say more before being cut off. To speak quickly is lower status compared to speaking with pauses which is a power gambit to make others wait for you. If the group doesn’t accept that alpha display, the power will be taken in the gap.


Masculinity is traditionally encoded as less emotive display, less intonation variance.

Male talking to male may deepen voice and flattens intonational curve for competing authority, dominance until pecking order is hashed out.

Females are projected as inherently more emotional and can display more intonation shift. Because female has a vestigial connection with contemptuous disempowerment, the sound range also tend to suggest less authority.


Controlled voice, controlled movements but with variation and resonance model being engaged with speech in order for the audience to be engaged.

A compelling performance strikes a balance between vocal variations and movement without there being too much movement.

Rapid, frequent and large gestures demand attention in an amateur-theatre or panicked way.


A male performing words extends into more emotionalism than gender norm.

A female converges towards male in less inflection than standard female caricature.

To speak publicly is a stylistic that is working in different ways.

Speaking one-on-one we can have a quiet background, speaker and listener monitoring one another for body language and uptake, interject for clarification, can speak in a muddier fashion, slushing consonants because there is that latitude.

In a noisy environment, one needs crisper articulation, more clear structure of thought because something will be lost to competing signals so there is less room for connecting dots. It is more necessary to speak slower with more pauses to become distinct as a pattern against background conversation and to signal power.

15 Nov 2015, 3:19pm
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Best Elements

Of all the places we lived or rented here are my favourite things:

  • being able to ski out the back door in privacy, having the woods to myself or ourselves
  • blue glass triangular shower powder room with skylight with no walls but one floor drain
  • heated floor in the bathroom with a dimmer switch and window opening to bare sky
  • outdoor shower looking into the forest
  • view of the top of backs of flying birds, tiny figures below
  • 12th century cottage with thick stone walls and fig trees and lizards in the yard
  • a profound quiet except for billions of leaves
  • farmers markets and fruit stands, bakeries and boulageries in every direction
  • late medieval cottage with a fireplace indoors and frog pond and herb garden outdoors with bicycles to explore lanes
  • a window seat in built-in maple shelves made by a local cabinetmaker
  • a few steps from deck of dark sky night to canoes and a lake to explore
  • fireplace and hottub in the bedroom and a catered breakfast buffet of fruit and bread
  • new kitchen toys like blender or slow cooker
  • a perfect teacup of a chair
  • views of hills and pheasants and rabbits
  • horses nearby
  • indoor or indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool
  • books to explore
11 Nov 2015, 4:32pm
Gnomes Ponderings
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No Travel At All

Those 5 or 6 days of laryngitis turned on me. I went from being an unintentional practical joke with mom calling and not believing that who answered the phone was me, insisting that Brian hand the phone over. To being aspiration and mouthing things for a couple days. To a soprano boy’s cracking voice. To it wearing out after a sentence or too. Me on mute.

I’ve been coughing for days. Hacking out a lung that won’t quite come right out. Holding on by mucus of steel.

I don’t feel congested. I feel like a plague-bearer.

Slowed thinking has its advantages.

Economics is not growth like plant growth.

I put 1 potato in the ground, split 3 ways and I got a bagful of potatoes back.

Invest money and your just take it by “interest” from someone else. It is not alive. All the movement is by outside forces.

Maybe new ores are squatted on by corporations skimming the land from beneath where plants, humans and other animals have been living but money is a process more than a product.

Money is a convenience for trade. Why go to make a transferable neutral of cash when you can find and trade directly and skip the middle means? Cash is a failure of communicating with a tribe that you can be useful to and who can provide what you need.

Writing things down is in the belief that otherwise it will be forgotten. What if it isn’t? And writing just prevents further thought and releases things to be forgotten?

A while back we went to Pink Lake where sunning on the trail was this guy. I say guy because male garter snakes are smaller than females and it is late in the season to be young.

I have always loved garter snakes. To encounter a species not-human is a gift. Snake, cat or Firebrat, which prefer 98 to 102 °F (37 to 39 °C) and an optimum of 85% humidity. A niche I can understand myself.

I like water snakes. And garters. Even when I found one eating peaceably as a little kid. But I ran to dad who came and “rescued” the mouse from her mouth. I didn’t even offer the snake an apple in return. The mouse was wet but ran off.

I’ve never written that. Now that I have it will disappear like all things consigned to text. The construction of language confers a lack of real to anything it touches. What stays outside language in the 90% of the world that is non-verbalized has a reality to it that is hard to bring over the border of 2-D.

Talking is good. I can understand how it has all kinds of leakage and slippage, and refusal of one narrative. Talking is messy and takes up a moving sack of space of body, a larger one of sound. When we pare it down to text, we keep a spilled dried spatter of egg white and the chick had left to dry and scratch. The shell is something to marvel at and hold. It is everything all together that adds up. The whole stories.

Pink Lake
Pink Lake is extremely low oxygen. The water doesn’t cycle in it and in fall especially the algae builds to make it bloom. It looks more Mediterranean than dreams of the Mediterranean. Than tourism guides for the Mediterranean.

A month ago there was snow. A month ago there was ice on the water. And still the trees aren’t bare.

On one hand, I appreciate the warmth. On the other, I’d like to try out our snow shoes.

22 Oct 2015, 1:15pm
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The pattern is as clear as the plague symptoms on the doctor’s own body. Once the regular schedule of blogging stops, once a person goes from daily to occasionally, highly irregular is rarely far away. I saw it coming but life has its own insistences.

A theme of the last few months is waiting for want. Want if very quiet, unless it is a want of a cat. I had an old premise that without pressing myself, depression would suck me dry and bitter. What if pressing itself does that? Perhaps that is the fruit of both directions of excess.

It’s been a year of reflection and withdrawal. I removed myself from various groups and organizations, stopped going to events except every month or two. I largely stopped having tea or dinner with people The idea of throwing a couple parties didn’t happen. I have had a couple months reading little poetry and writing almost none, which isn’t unprecedented but it has been a long time. There is a season to gather and a season to harvest.

The summer had been my mom, her tumour removed, heart valves replaces, excess fluid in limbs and lungs, then a full break for hubby & I to withdraw and renew our energies.

As with any holiday, the first week is essential, but not yet holiday exactly. We sit and we sleep and restore from depleted. My headaches and twitchiness continues for a week, wanting to make fake busy, nervous as a mouse in a cat kennel. After that we get to the rest part.

The European idea of a 6 week vacation seems about right. Time to decompress, find a rhythm and be able to see beauty that slipped. You can’t order beauty to appear or expect it but if you refuse the usual tides of bullshit and bullseyes long enough, its grace might make an appearance.

Beauty is a funny thing. You can gorge yourself until sick but a few hours later, appetite is back. It is a kind of nutrition, beauty, nature, ground, lack of mechanical sound pestering. Eventually the eyes could move in a sweep of distances, instead of stagger about from one locked position, unsticking to next locked position. The world gets more three dimensional.

By week 3, there’s new kinds of aches and strengths. Atrophied smile muscles are getting a workout. The sedentary habit of home gave way to being able to have full use of my body again. I could hike for a couple hours up hills. I could canoe with ease, feel the muscle burn, but no pain afterwards, only deep sleep and waking without that buzz off mental metal walls.

Coming home I crashed into the thorny thicket of old habit and my body immediately slapped me with days of body penalties, headaches and muscle hurt like I have been free of. But to be free of something is to know that contrast is possible. So, how to live properly again. It can be done.

So, let there be no more of this,
stress ball

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