Thursday, April 17, 2008


It's amazing to me what a daily walk can do for my writing life and for my spirit.
And yesterday it kept me from swatting my dog.

I took pictures.

Here's Tanner. Look sideways. I'm not knowledgeable enough yet to turn the picture around. Sorry about that.
But anyway, look at him.

Notice how he is not looking at me. Nor is he looking at the cement pig that we keep on the back porch. (There's a grill back there and my husband is a barbecue nut, hence the pig dressed up like a chef. If you've never seen one before, you're not from the Carolinas.) Anyway he's not looking at me or the pig because he's hoping I've forgotten what he just did. Do you see the little hole where the pig hands should be? Or pig hooves, or whatever pigs have. That hole is there because our pig usually holds a wooden spoon (because he's barbecuing of course! He's making the sauce.)

Tanner ate the spoon.

Actually he just gnawed it to pieces, but he might as well have eaten it.
I was not happy about that. I went inside to take a deep breath, and while I was breathing I noticed again how he chewed off the bottom corner of the buffet I brought back from France. That happened when he was a puppy. But the spoon? He's a grown up dog now! There's no excuse for such behavior.

So I took him for a walk to wear him out. To make him too tired to eat any of my belongings.

This is where we go. It's the Enoree River, and it runs through my neighborhood.

It's gorgeous. When I'm walking, I start to forget about chewed up spoons. I start to think about whatever I'm working on and before long I'm writing new paragraphs in my head and I have to call my answering machine on my cell phone and read them into it so I don't forget anything.

I'm not sure why it works so well, but it usually does. So explain this to me: why is it often so hard for me to stop banging my head against the computer, and get out of my chair and go for a walk? I'll sit there completely frustrated, trying to force good work out of myself, to no avail. What about you? Does walking work for you? What else helps? I'm willing to try new things.

Though I probably should stick to walking, at least to stay in shape, because on the way home from my walk I saw this in a neighbor's yard...

It's a snowball tree. I love, love, love it. There's probably a better name for it, but I'm not a botanist and too lazy to find out. All I know is that it made me think of this:

Yum. I had to run to the quick stop and buy me one. But no worries. I'll take another walk today.


Yoli said...

I am in love with Tanner!

Steve said...

That really is a pretty river.

Walking, running, getting outside and being active in whatever form seems to help me too. My job requires a different kind of creativity (you know, the boring kind), but sometimes if I'm spinning my wheels it's better just to stop and do something else. I get better work-related ideas when I'm not at work than when I'm sitting at my desk trying to make it happen.

Of course, reading blogs might help too. Or not.

Nathan Bransford said...

What a beautiful area.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Yes yoli, Tanner's quite lovable, except when he's being bad. (I could tell you about the time he ate the metal jewelry box my father brought me back from Colorado when I was little, but then I'd have to take another walk to work out the frustration and I don't have time. And yes, he ate the entire thing, red velvet interior and all. Shoot, now I need a walk.)

Steve and Nathan, it is indeed a beautiful area and the river is lovely, though sometimes it smells a little pee-you, as my youngest would say. But you can't have everything.

Thanks for commenting!

JaxPop said...

Rebecca - Your blog is terrific & I said so on Nathan's blog (that was nice of him to mention it for everyone to check out). Getting outside & 'moving' is a great way to get a lift. I walk at least 2 miles with my wife every night (weather permitting) along our fantastic white sandy beaches here in St Augustine Florida. It's a great way to clear your head & get inspired. Today was spent writing in my outdoor office (screened porch) with my writing partner 'Nubber' the cat (short for "Nubbin Scabinski" his full name - don't ask me why). I'm afraid he is a total bore, as he sleeps in his chair all day until 11PM. Then it's time for him to 'go to his room' & go - back to sleep. Don't have to worry about him ingesting much - dry cat food (only), turkey bacon, Doritos & ... that's about it. Like I said - he's a bore. Now I need to figure out how to add pics to my blog. Yours were great. Keep posting.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Thank you, Jaxpop. And thanks too for the comment on Nathan's blog! Very kind of you. Yes, it was great of Nathan to mention the blog. He's the best!

And I love your cat's name. Our cat Katie was a sleeper too, until we took her with us to France and she discovered pate. After that, she was always afraid she might miss out on some other delicacy and hardly napped.

I've heard St. Augustine is beautiful. Walking on the beach sounds great!
Good to meet you!

Deanna said...

Ah Tanner...he just wanted a bit of attention. *wink* I have a golden too, she gets a little annoyed when the computer gets all of my attention. Though she is 10 now and I usually just get guilt trip looks these days, its better than the chewing.

I think up my best stuff in the shower.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Oh this dog does love attention. You'd think with three kids loving on him, plus a dog-crazy husband and me, he'd get enough. Maybe by the time he's ten he'll decide to try eating like a dog instead of a goat.

mkcbunny said...

There's something about (a) getting outside, and (b) water that refreshes my brain. I seem to have dramatic epiphanies in the shower and more subtle revelations when I walk outside.

We live within a block of a very large lake, which offers the daily opportunity to both walk AND get the water-thing going. And yet, like you, sometimes I just get anchored and forget that I can get my ass up off the chair, away from technology, and skittle down to the shore for an answer.

For a time, I had a specific schedule for walking. I've gotten off track on that lately, but I think it may be one answer to the problem. The obvious solution is to make yourself get up and leave the building when you are having trouble.

Maybe the reluctance to get out is because of a need to "keep working on the problem," and that leaving the computer/writing desk somehow feels like abandoning the problem at hand?

lizr said...

Just last week it occurred to me that almost every big story idea that's come to me so far has happened when I was dealing with water - mopping the floor, taking a shower, watching my kids in the hotel swimming pool . . .

I also get the ideas while walking or driving. The gist of it seems to be that if I'm in a position to not write something down, the greatest idea in the world will present itself to me. Then I need to repeat the words over and over to myself until I get hold of a piece of scrap paper, napkin, whatever. And I try not to look like a lunatic in the process.

I love the dog. Ours ate a mushroom out in the yard when she was a puppy, and an entire bottle of children's vitamins a couple of years ago. For the record - if you ever need to get something non-sharp back out of him, take a turkey baster and shoot a couple of tablespoons of peroxide down his throat. And then make sure to put him outside ;).

val said...

I, too, arrived at your blog through Nathan B.'s. I will definitely return!

Guess I'm one of the shower idea people. Some folks sing, some folks tell themselves stories. Also get ideas doing dishes (hmm, water-thing; mckbunny just may have something there) and when I'm falling asleep at night.

On the canine front: we have 2 keeshonden dogs who brighten our lives. Keeno, the old boy, tends to be convinced he's starving constantly--especially since the vet insisted we put him on a diet. He grazes whenever we're outside. Although I'm still not happy with the pine cones, wild rabbit droppings, dirt, sticks, etc. that he tends to consume when I'm not watching closely enough, I'm grateful he doesn't chow down on furniture, shoes, or knick knacks. Guess I'll have to give him a couple of extra skruffles just to say "thanks".

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Interesting! So water helps. I'll have to try that too. And it might make doing the dishes less painful if I turn off the radio and see if ideas come to me. Thanks, mkcbunny, lizr, and val. And I think you're right about feeling like I'm abandoning the problem if I go for a walk, mkcbunny. As often as walking has helped me, it's still hard to let go of my need to do it myself, instead of letting the answer come to me.

Lisa Bullard said...

Yep, that snowball bush is a viburnum, Becky. I think it's a cousin of the hydrangea because they sure look a lot alike. I have two bushes in my yard, just covered with blooms. Beautiful!

Love the new blog!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Lisa! My buddy!
Thanks! Viburnum. I will now call it by the correct name! I bet your yard is gorgeous! I must come see next time I'm home. Give yourself a hug for me.