dec 30/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.5 miles
treadmill, basement

Biked and ran again today. Thought about running outside on the snow-covered paths, but I wimped out. Not because it was cold or icy, but because I was worried if I fell and hurt myself–which has never happened in my 5 years of serious winter running–I wouldn’t want to go to a doctor or the emergency room. Too many covid cases, too much scary talk about new, more infectious, strains. Am I being too cautious? Perhaps, but I can still run in the basement and when it’s not the day after 3 or 4 new inches of snow. And I’ll still make sure I get outside for at least 20 minutes a day (already did today, when I shoveled the snow!).

Before I worked out, I spent the morning with my favorite poetry lines, trying to shape them into a poem or something resembling a poem. Last year, I printed out all the lines, cut them out, spread them on a table, and then experimented with different groupings. This year, I decided to type up the lines and then keep narrowing them down, reading through them repeatedly and picking out the ones that I liked, until I had a manageable amount. Then I printed and cut those out and played around with how to categorize them. After a few ideas, I came up with: The Is, The Ought, The Why Not. The Is includes lines that describe. The Ought includes lines that prescribe. And the Why Not includes lines that wonder and imagine and dream up new ways to be. Is this a poem? Not quite. I might try messing with it more at some point. Still, I’m posting it as my final poem for my monthly poem challenge: December Decisions

I am very pleased with these lists and my idea for them and my ability to complete this a poem-a-month, always alliterative, challenge!

dec 29/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.5 miles
treadmill, basement

I thought about not running for the rest of the year, but a week off seemed too long and 4 days seemed like enough. Also thought about not posting on this log in order to keep the nice round 1000 miles up there, but decided that it was more important to me to keep an accurate record of when I ran and when I rested. So here’s a post (written a day late due to my ambivalence).

Watched a few running races as I biked; dropped my new iPad from high up on a music stand down to the concrete floor. Not even a scratch! Whew. Listened to Miley Cyrus’s new album, Plastic Hearts, while I biked. I like a few songs, not sure about some others. It felt good to run again, even if it was in the basement on the treadmill.

Before and after my run, I started reviewing my notes + entries + mood ring poems. I’ve decided I want to use some of the more interesting facts and sources of inspiration to decorate my desktop. So far, I’m thinking: a diagram of the eye and a depiction of how we see + an image of St. Lucia (patron saint of vision) holding a platter with eyeballs on it + a creepy state fair mannequin + the uncanny valley diagram + the amsler grid with my blind spot + descriptions of filling-in, blind spots, Charles Bonnet Syndrome + a few passages from Georgina Kleege.

dec 24/RUN

3.25 miles
treadmill, basement

Yesterday we got 3 or 4 inches of snow and this morning it is 1 and feels like -13, so I did my final run of 2020 in the basement. Today I accomplished a goal I’ve been trying to accomplish for 4 years, ever since I started this running log:

1000 miles!

For most of the year, this goal, which had me averaging 20 miles a week, wasn’t that difficult. But these last 2 months have been much harder. My body is ready for a break. I will try to take the rest of the year off–which will be a big accomplishment too; it’s hard to stop running, even when I’m tired.

As I ran, I listened to a playlist created by Spotify from my recent interest in Taylor Swift’s evermore, Harry Styles’ fine line, and Demi Lovato’s “Sorry, not Sorry.”

  • willow/ taylor swift
  • golden/ harry styles
  • bitches broken hearts/ billie eilish
  • edge of midnight (miley cyrus–a cool mash-up of Stevie Nick’s “edge of 17” and cyrus’s midnight sky)
  • cool for the summer/ demi lovato
  • lovestoned/I think she knows/ justin timberlake
  • sign of the times/ harry styles
  • hate me/ mile cyrus

The chorus for “hate me” was…not amusing or interesting or striking? I can’t find the right word:

I wonder what would happen if I die
I hope all of my friends get drunk and high
Would it be too hard to say goodbye?
I hope that it’s enough to make you cry
Maybe that day you won’t hate me

dec 23/RUN

5.1 miles
franklin loop
44 degrees

Ran with Scott on the Franklin loop! Warm this morning; snowstorm/blizzard this afternoon. The Weather Channel app predicts 5-8 inches and Dark Sky, 10-15. Yikes. It was great out there today. Not much wind, only a little misty rain, bare pavement. We ran slow and stopped many times. The river was a beautiful gray–no sun today. Noticed the lions in front of a house had Santa hats on. And–almost forgot!–we saw 5 big turkeys crossing the road over in St. Paul. Anything else? I recited the poem (Babel/ Kimberly Johnson) I re-memorized yesterday to Scott as I ran and he mentioned how much it sounded like Captain Beefheart lyrics, especially the line, “while the tesla bees whine loudly at the stunned sky.” I love the idea of tesla bees and a stunned sky.

countdowns

only 28 days/ 672 hours left of Trump!
just 3.25 miles left to run to reach my goal of 1000 miles!

dec 22/RUN

3.15 miles
turkey hollow
25 degrees/ feels like 16

A great day for a run! Cold but not too cold, not too much wind. No snow or ice (that’s coming tomorrow). Not too many people. Ran south on the river road trail right above the river. O, the river! An unobstructed view. I think it was blue. I don’t remember seeing any ice on it, but I do remember admiring the pleasing contrast between the brown branches and the pale blue water. Saw several groups of walkers down below on the Winchell trail, spotted someone in a bright blue jacket. Why is the jacket always blue when I notice people below me? Is it the same person, always walking when I’m running, or am I only noticing when it’s blue, or is it not blue at all–I just always see blue? I didn’t see any turkeys down in turkey hollow–I made sure to look–but I did see a giant wreath on the door of one of the funkiest, late 70s/early 80s modern houses on that stretch of Edmund.

Sounds

  • a nail gun on a roof–running south I wondered where it was coming from, running back north I found out: down Dowling Avenue (or is it street? I’m too lazy to check right now)
  • chainsaws cutting down some trees–sounded like a big tree or many trees
  • a kid talking to an adult below as I ran above on the trail
  • the queen of the block (the cat who often escorts me across the sidewalk when I walk by her house) meowing loudly as I tried to recite a poem after my run

Favorite Spot for Admiring the River

Running on the trail, on the stretch between 42nd and 44th, where the bluff is steeper and higher and the lower trail (below me) hugs the edge. So wide and open and gorgeous!

Tried a (slightly) new experiment today. Memorized a poem. Recorded myself reciting it from memory before heading out for my run. Recited it all through my run. Then, recorded it again on my walk home. I wondered what the difference would be? Would I know the poem better after my run? In the first attempt: no. I knew it better before, but I think that had more to do with being tired at the end of my run. The poem I memorized (or re-memorized) was: Babel/ Kimberly Johnson

Babel, before running
Babel, after running

Biggest mistake I noticed: both times I screwed up the verb tense, reciting could instead of can. I might try this experiment again.

Only 8.35 miles left to run until I reach my goal of 1000 miles. Then, a break! Also, only 696 hours until Trump is down–only 2% of his presidency left!

dec 20/RUN

5k
2 school loop
27 degrees

What a beautiful morning for a run! Frost everywhere, even on the road, sparkling in the bright sun. Not too much wind. Encountered a few patches of ice on the sidewalk, but no snow. Heard a strange bird, with a strident double cry, as I ran. Was it a bluejay? Lots of people on the trail and on the grass between Edmund and the river road.

Decided to recite “What Would Root” from memory. Normally it takes me about 3 minutes to recite it all (it’s a long poem), but while running it took 7 and a half minutes. Many distractions and repeated lines. I stumbled over the line, “The squirrels, I mentioned them already, etc, and the lizards ran down the spines of rocks like a bad feeling.” I kept wanting to recite climbed instead of ran even though I felt like that was wrong, which it was. Also got stuck on the line, “that they were a part of my body I could not doubt; they were living and enervated and jutting out.” In my typed up version, I had alive instead of living. Reciting it in my head, that sounded wrong rhythmically, which it was (again). I love the scolding squirrels and the chill red-crested woodpecker that “was not offended I didn’t know his name” and the land spreading greenly before me and the roots in my skull shifting. Such a magical, strange poem!

dec 19/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.55 miles
treadmill, basement

Another mini cross-training day. A little biking, a little running. Watched a YouTube video with runner Emma Abrahamson commenting on one of her kid races. Why do I find watching other people race so fascinating? Not sure. Did I watch anything else? I can’t remember. Listened to a playlist as I ran; it ended (again) with Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA.” That song–I really don’t like the lines, but the tempo is great for grinding on the treadmill.

Earlier today, Scott and I took Delia the dog for a walk near the gorge. No snow, just bare brown branches looking beautiful. I pointed out how I liked the contrast between the plain brown tree line and a runner’s bright yellow shirt. Scott thought it looked more green, which it probably did. A few minutes later he pointed out a biker’s bright shirt, remarking, “Now that’s YELLOW yellow.” To me it looked paler, dull. How much color do my cone cells still see? How much of what we all see is subjective, based on our preferences or interpretations? Maybe the runner’s shirt was both yellow and green?

dec 18/RUN

2.6 miles
neighborhood
33 degrees

Overdressed this morning in my green shirt + pink jacket + black vest. Windy and gray. No snow. Listened to a playlist and didn’t think about much. Too far from the river to see it. Briefly ran on Lake Street. Lots of cars, but only one a few people walking. What else do I remember? The gutters were cluttered with dead leaves. The pavement was wet–was it from street sweepers? Favorite song to run to: Harry Styles’ “Treat People with Kindness.”

ABECEDARIAN FOR THE DANGEROUS ANIMALS/ Catherine Peirce

All frantic and drunk with new warmth, the bees
buzz and blur the holly bush.
Come see.
Don’t be afraid. Or do, but
everything worth admiring can sting or somber.
Fix your gaze upward and
give bats their due,
holy with quickness and echolocation:
in summer’s bleakest hum, the air
judders and mosquitoes blink out,
knifed into small quick mouths. Yes,
lurking in some unlucky bloodstreams
might be rabies or histoplasmosis, but almost
no one dies and you
owe the bats for your backyard serenity.
Praise the cassowary, its ultraviolet head, its
quills and purposeful claws. Only one
recorded human death, and if a boy
swung at you, wouldn’t you rage back? Or P.
terribilis, golden dart frog maligned by Latin,
underlauded and unsung, enough poison to
vex two elephants into death but ardent
with eggs and froglets, their protection a neon
xyston. And of course,
yes, humans. Remarkable how our
zeal for safety manifests: poison, rifle, vanishment.

I love this abecedarian. What a great ending! And the descriptions throughout: so good. I think I ‘d like to compose an abecedarian using facts from my vision research this fall.

dec 17/RUN

2.75 miles
loop around Hiawatha
24 degrees

Gray, damp, chilly but not cold. Some wind, but not too much. Ran the first (almost) 2 miles with no headphones, listening to the gorge and reciting “The Meadow” by Marie Howe in my head. Listened to a playlist for the last three quarters of a mile. Was able to run above the gorge. Heard a kid below me on the Winchell Trail in the Oak Savanna. Hardly anyone else on the trail–I think I passed 2 people. Heard a few voices down on the lower trail, saw someone’s bright blue jacket. Admired the river–a pale blue with a few chunks of ice. I don’t remember hearing any woodpeckers or chickadees or crows or busy squirrels. Noticed a few flurries. Anything else? Felt good, even thought I am tired and ready to take a break. Only 20 miles left until I hit my goal, 1000 miles!

Wondered about some of the words in the poem I was reciting. Is the line, “it knows for certain that two horses walk upon it, weary for hay” or “weary of hay.” [I checked: it’s of hay, which makes more sense] Got distracted somewhere around the line, “Two crows, rising from the hill, fight and caw-cry in mid-flight, then light and fall on the meadow grass” and never returned. Maybe I was thinking about how my son is going to college next year and he just received his financial aid package and he is very smart and I’m so proud of him and he won several big scholarships and it will still be difficult (but not impossible) for us to pay for it because college costs way too much. Or maybe I was just not thinking, letting my body stretch and move and fly and strike the ground in an even rhythm?

Here’s a poem I discovered the other day on twitter:

How It Happens/ W.S. Merwin

The sky said I am watching
to see what you
can make out of nothing
I was looking up and I said
I thought you
were supposed to be doing that
the sky said Many
are clinging to that
I am giving you a chance
I was looking up and I said
I am the only chance I have
then the sky did not answer
and here we are
with our names for the days
the vast days that do not listen to us

dec 16/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.25 miles

It wasn’t too cold outside, but I decided to stay inside so I could do some biking too. Watched a few races and, when I heard Lorde’s “Royals” playing during one of the races, I decided to watch that video. Wow, just looked it up and it’s hard to believe that “Royals” is from 2013. It’s 7 years old?! With some more (albeit cursory) digging, I found that it was on popular radio in the US in August of 2013. I probably heard it around then, or later. In the fall of 2013, I was just shifting away from my TROUBLE blog and writing about researching and creating an interactive documentary about my family’s farm on a new blog, STORY.

Because I always feel compelled to document my life, I have a summary of the creative/intellectual work I did at that time:

SUMMER 2013
  • Edited my Grandma Ines’ memoirs, which she wrote in the late 1980s a few years before she died, by breaking it up into manageable chapters and combining it with supplementary videos, photos, a scan of her scrapbook and a forward and concluding essay written by me. Excitedly published it in iBooks, eagerly shared the link with family members and unrealistically and perhaps unfairly hoped that they would read it and recognize it for what I imagined it to be: a gesture of love and an invitation to reconnect with each other through a shared investment in the Puotinen heritage
  • Created and began posting content on a new site for archiving farm-related materials and documenting the process of reflecting and remembering the farm and its inhabitants
FALL 2013
  • Analyzed interactive documentaries, did research on how people tell stories online and created a resources page with links about online storytelling, interactive tools and examples of projects that were inspiring and influencing me
  • Crafted a storytelling manifesto
  • To make the most out of an annoying time gap between when I dropped off my son for school and when I dropped off my daughter, began another digital storytelling experiment with digital moments documenting brief moments of life with a second-grader who was curious about the difference between a pie and a tart, who liked playing hopscotch and swinging on the monkey bars, who was transfixed by freaky trees that looked like they had teeth and who hated swimming the butterfly stroke
  • Researched and wrote an Interactive Media Project Grant Proposal for a $50,000, two-year project that I correctly predicted would never be accepted but that I (mostly) enjoyed doing anyway because it enabled me to learn a lot of new things and forced me to get off my ass and actually start working with all of the farm materials that I had collected and had promised to use in farm stories for years

I still lived in my old house but my son was starting 5th grade at one elementary school a block and a half from our future house while my daughter was in 2nd grade at another school. (This was the start of them being at separate schools. Scott and I always talked about how they wouldn’t be back together again until FWA was a senior and RJP a freshman in 2020. Of course, now it’s 2020 and they aren’t in school at all, but at home doing online school during the pandemic). That summer, I swam across Lake Nokomis for the first time and fell in love with open water swimming. That swim changed my life. Now, I cannot imagine not being an open water swimmer–which made my decision to not swim in the lake this summer even more difficult.

The idea of changing your life reminds me of the poem I reviewed today and then recited a few times during my bike ride: Marie Howe’s “The Meadow.” Such a beautiful last sentence!:

Bedeviled,
human, your plight in waking, is to choose from the words
that even now sleep on your tongue, and to know that
tangled among them and terribly new is the sentence that could change our life.

After biking, I changed into my new berry red shoes and ran for 12 minutes while listening to Taylor Swift and Lizzo and Justin Bieber. I almost, but didn’t, fell of the back of the treadmill when I got distracted, checking my pulse. Oops.

note: This post, and my ability to find so much of what I did in 2013 online, reminds me again of how grateful I am for past Sara. She did such a great job giving accounts of our life.

dec 15/RUN

3 miles
neighborhood
18 degrees / feels like 9

Colder today. As I said to Scott, “I was the only fool out there.” Strange, though, because it’s really not that cold for Minneapolis. On this day last year, I ran outside when it felt like -3.

It was a good run. I started without headphones, reciting Diane Seuss’ “I Look Up From My Book At the World Through Reading Glasses.” Favorite first line, which I used in one of my mood ring poems, “the world, italicized.” Also love the next line, which really resonates for me and my seeing objects as forms, like Tree or Rock or Person. “Douglas fir blurs into archetype.”

When I got to the Minnehaha Academy parking lot, I decided to put on a playlist and listen to headphones as I ran south. Favorite songs today: Screwed/ Janelle Monae and Midnight Sky/ Miley Cyrus. Ran into the wind; glad to have a hood on. I didn’t get close enough to the river to admire it, or the ravine, or the oak savanna. I do remember hearing, and then seeing, a wedge of honking geese in the sky. Oh– and I heard the “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” as I ran by someone’s garage. Anything else? The sidewalks were stained white from salt, or was it from the dusting of snow we got 2 days ago? No slippery spots. And, a new over-the-top decoration at the already excessive house with Olaf, a minion, Charlie Brown, and Darth Vader: a giant reindeer. I ran past it to fast to notice, but I bet it’s Rudolph from the old holiday special.

sleep

Ever since I had my first kid, way back in 2003, I’ve struggled to sleep through the night more than a few times a month. I usually wake up for a few minutes every couple of hours. For the past few days, my sleep has been extra *fun*: go to sleep around 10:30, wake up at 11:45, then just before 1, then again at 1:30 before finally sleeping for 4 or 5 hours straight. My usual counting by sevens–which I started doing a few years ago–isn’t cutting it, so I’ve started listening to Taylor Swift’s new album, evermore, until I fall asleep again. I love this album. So many good songs with great words to enjoy. “Marjorie” is one of my favorites–such a beautiful song about grief and losing someone you love! Always makes me think of my mom.

Marjorie/ Taylor Swift

Never be so kind, you forget to be clever
Never be so clever, you forget to be kind

And if I didn’t know better
I’d think you were talking to me now
If I didn’t know better
I’d think you were still around
What died didn’t stay dead
What died didn’t stay dead
You’re alive, you’re alive in my head
What died didn’t stay dead
What died didn’t stay dead
You’re alive, so alive

Never be so polite, you forget your power
Never wield such power, you forget to be polite

And if I didn’t know better
I’d think you were listening to me now
If I didn’t know better
I’d think you were still around
What died didn’t stay dead
What died didn’t stay dead
You’re alive, you’re alive in my head
What died didn’t stay dead
What died didn’t stay dead
You’re alive, so alive

The autumn chill that wakes me up
You loved the amber skies so much
Long limbs and frozen swims
You’d always go past where our feet could touch
And I complained the whole way there
The car ride back and up the stairs
I should’ve asked you questions
I should’ve asked you how to be
Asked you to write it down for me
Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt
‘Cause every scrap of you would be taken from me
Watched as you signed your name Marjorie
All your closets of backlogged dreams
And how you left them all to me

What died didn’t stay dead
What died didn’t stay dead
You’re alive, you’re alive in my head
What died didn’t stay dead
What died didn’t stay dead
You’re alive, so alive
And if I didn’t know better
I’d think you were singing to me now
If I didn’t know better
I’d think you were still around
I know better
But I still feel you all around
I know better
But you’re still around

dec 14/BIKERUN

bike: 18 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 5k
treadmill, basement

Because I’m feeling extra sore at the end of the year and because it’s icy and cold (feels like 5) outside, I biked and ran in the basement this morning. While I biked, I watched more of Netflix’s Prom. Still not sure if I like it, but it’s good to watch while biking. A nice distraction. Near the end of my biking, I stopped the movie, pulled out my phone, and recorded myself reciting an excerpt of “Halos.” Several mistakes, but not too bad. I love this poem with its myopic me and soul ubiquitous like water and the idea that “to the dead, we’re the ghosts.”

Reciting Halos/ Biking, heart rate 120 bpm

While running I listened to a spotify playlist that included some Harry Styles, Janelle Monae, Demi Lovato, and ended with Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” Wow, that last song. Not too bad to run to, with its slow steady beat, but those lyrics. Yikes. That was a particularly bad phase for Cyrus–so much troubling cultural appropriation. Wore my new berry red shoes and felt fast and free–even though my app claimed I was running slow. Pretty sure that my speed on the treadmill is always faster than it says. I ran for a little over 30 minutes–that’s a lot for me on the treadmill.

Today the electoral college votes. Foolishly I had assumed that that would be it, all of the doubt and unsubstantiated claims about the election will end. But then I reviewed how all of this works and realized that we still have the potential shit show of January 6th, when Congress can chose to debate the results. Of course, it couldn’t be resolved in 2020–2020 must continue to (mostly) suck.

Here’s a poem I’ve been meaning to post for some time now; I wanted to wait until it was winter, or at least felt like winter: cold, with snow on the ground. It’s from December 1972.

In Wiry Winter/ James Schuyler

The shadow of a bird
upon the yard upun
a house: it’s gone.
Through a pane a
beam like a warm hand
laid upon an arm.
A thin shell, trans-
parent, blue: the
atmosphere in which
to swim. Burr. A
cold plunge. The bird
is back. All the same,
to swim, plunging
upward, arms as wings,
into calm cold. Warm
within the act,
threading air, a
shadow on the yard.
Or floating, gliding,
a shadow on the roofs
and drives, in action
warm, the shadow cold
but brief. To swim
in air. No, Not in
this wiry winter air.
A beam comes in the
glass, a hand to
warm an arm. A hand
upon the glass
finds it a kind
of ice. The Shadow
of a bird less cold.
Window, miraculous
contrivance, sun
hot wires in
meshed cold.
The bird goes
quick as a wish
to swim up
and cast, like
it, a shadow
on the years.

dec 12/RUN

3.15 miles
2 school loop
29 degrees

Gloomy, light gray today. Wind coming from almost every direction. My lower back hurt when I started but was okay by the end. Less than 30 miles to go now, then a break. Nice to be outside, moving, and not thinking. Ran to the river and started on the trail, but there were too many people so I crossed over to the grass between edmund and the river road. No view of the river today. Encountered a few irritating squirrels, a big white dog. I don’t remember hearing any geese or seeing any big birds in the sky. No fat tires or roller skiers.

Running around Hiawatha School, I thought about when my kids went there. FWA started in pre-school in 2006, RJP finished 2nd grade in 2014. It seems so long ago and like it was a different Sara who took her kids to the playground, soccer practice, the wading pool, school concerts. I like the Sara I am now better than the Sara I was then.

This morning I reviewed part of Ed Bok Lee’s wonderful poem, “Halos,” and then recited it in my head as I ran. No recording today because I ran all the way to my front door without a cool-down walk. Here’s my favorite part of what I reviewed:

That visual impairment improves hearing,
taste, smell, touch is is mostly myth.
With it, however, I detect

fuzzy spirits exiting buildings;
halos around bikers’ helmets;
each streetlamp a pink-orange dawn.

So much in this bit that I love and that makes me think.

  1. Visual impairment, in and of itself, has not improved my other senses. Instead, it has made me want to work harder on them: to learn to listen, to notice and make note of what I smell, to find words to describe the textures I encounter.
  2. And, not being able to see normally most often doesn’t mean you can’t see anything. According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), 93% of blind and partially sighted people can see something. I like how Lee describes that something as beautiful and magical and not damaged or partial or less than: fuzzy spirits, halos, streetlights casting pink-orange dawns as light. Pretty cool. Quite often, I like the soft, fuzzy, gentle way I see the world these days. In an earlier part of the poem, Lee describes how he sees people: “any nearing face is surely smiling, gorgeous; each blurry body’s aura numinous.” Yes, I see this too and I like it. So much better than harsh lighting with sharp features and haggard faces.

As I was trying to write out the lines of this poems, I was thinking–and not for the first time–about how difficult it is for me to memorize line breaks and punctuation in poems. I googled “memorizing poems difficult punctuation” and found a discussion of how and why some contemporary poets write poems that deliberately resist memorization. Interesting. Here are some sources I’d like to check out:

The idea of writing poems that are hard to memorize–awkward phrasing and rhythms, for example–made me think about my poems about vision, the Snellen charts and mood rings. How hard are they to memorize? Are they too dependent on vision and reading to be understood? I think I want to do a poem/some poems about vision that are not so visual. I like the idea of experimenting with memorization and speaking/reciting in new ways. I’m also thinking about how I’ve been partly drawn to poetry because it’s easier to read as reading gets harder for me. Easier because there are usually less words to read and they are grouped differently, with lots of white space. Not easier in terms of understanding; I love how chewy and difficult they are in that respect. Yes, I want to think about this some more!

dec 11/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.9 miles
treadmill, basement

Not too cold or too covered in snow outside today, but I decided to stay inside to cross train and try out my new shoes on the treadmill. Can’t remember what I watched while I biked–some running race, I think. After about 20 minutes on the bike, when my heart rate was at 120 bpm, I recorded myself reciting the two poems I reviewed this morning: Emily Dickinson’s “Before I Got My Eye Put Out” and Vincente Huidobro’s “Natural Forces.”

Dickinson and Huidobro/ 11 December

I love fun challenges like this–trying to remember and recite a poem while working out. I did a good job. I like the juxtaposition of these two poems, with Dickinson cautioning against the hubris of “owning” objects–Mountains, Meadows, Dipping Birds, Amber Roads– by seeing them, and Huidobro celebrating the power of his glances to hold back a landscape or relight the stars or hold down a plummeting train. I memorized both of these poems as part of my Loving Eye/Arrogant Eye theme this summer. I like thinking about it in relation to Kelly’s scouring eye “that scrubs clean the sky and blossomed tree” in “Perhaps You Tire of Birds.” What if vision’s power was not in its penetrating gaze, but something else? I used this question as the start of my “Awed” mood ring poem:

Behold the power of sight! Not found in one destructive glance but in the accumulation of looks. Against the odds and in spite of damaged cones misfiring signals and incomplete data these looks produce something resembling vision — an image feeling fuzzy form.

It’s cool to think about how the poems I memorized and recited this summer helped to inspire my work this fall.

After I finished reciting the poems, I hopped off the bike and ran almost 2 miles on the treadmill. Listened to my Bday 2018 playlist while I tried out my new shoes. Very nice! I wonder if I will run faster outside in these? Felt good to move and sweat and not think about much.

This morning I made it outside for a walk with Delia the dog. Cooler and windy, but clear, uncrowded, and seeming like October and not December. No snow or ice, just lots of brown leaves, bare branches, and yellowing grass. Passing a house on the corner of a street a few blocks away, I noticed the curtain slightly open and the face of an eager dog–a small poodle or Bichon?–watching us walk by. I had noticed the open curtain the day before and thought there might be a dog or cat in the window, but couldn’t look long enough to see. It takes a lot more time (than it used to, and than “normally” sighted people) to be able to determine what I’m looking at. Often I don’t bother; I dislike stopping and staring. It seems rude. One day I will get over this and take as much time as I want stopping to look at things until they make sense. I’m working on it!

From a twitter thread about poems that changed your life, I found this great one by Rumi. I’ve hardly read any Rumi, although I know Mary Oliver (one of my favorites), read them every day.

The Guest House/ Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and
invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

dec 10/RUN

3 miles
edmund + loops around Cooper and Howe
43 degrees

Wound my way through the neighborhood to avoid people. My route makes some interesting shapes, I think:

Screenshot of my running route, marked with yellow lines winding through the neighborhood--
Running Route, 10 December

Very mild this morning with bright sunshine. Not blinding, just warming and reminding me of early spring. From up above on Edmund, the tunnel of trees below glowed. I would have liked to run through it, but I am keeping as much distance as I can from others. Too many cases, too many deaths. Between 33rd and 32nd, encountered an adult running and laughing while a young kid chased them. Their joy made me smile. Just before heading up the 32nd street hill, I saw Dave the Daily Walker way up ahead on the river road trail. Too far away to greet. I don’t remember noticing the parking lot at Minneahaha Academy–was it empty again? Ran around Cooper School. A family was playing in the field. Headed south on 45th and ran around Howe School too. Another family playing in that field.

Celebrated less than 1000 hours of Trump’s presidency last night at 7 PM; woke up this morning to scary tweets about his latest court cases. Time to distract myself until this is over–will it ever be over? Time to focus all of my energy on the small and big joys I can find.

Today’s reason for joy: New Shoes!

Since starting to run in 2011, I’ve been wearing Saucony Grid Cohesions. The pair I’m wearing right now I bought last winter. They’re blueish gray and mind green accents. Very nice. Last week, I decided to upgrade one level to Clarion 2s. They are berry red! with copper accents. So cool! I’ve never had red shoes. I’ve had: white, gray, bright pink, orange, teal, electric blue but never red. And they feel faster. I’m excited to try them out–maybe on the treadmill this winter.

Reciting while Running, Review

Reviewed two more poems this morning: Ted Kooser’s “Turkey Vultures” and Donika Kelly’s “Perhaps You Tire of Birds.” Recited them in my head while I ran, then recorded “Perhaps” right after finishing, and “Turkey Vultures” on my deck a few minutes later. Only minor mistakes, but ones that weakened the power of each poem–forgetting the my in “O, my scouring eye” and “O, my heart” and “O, my bones” in “Perhaps” and making it was instead of is at the end of “Turkey Vultures.”

Perhaps You Tire of Birds/ December 10
Turkey Vultures/ December 10

dec 9/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1 mile
treadmill, basement

What a beautiful day outside today! 50 degrees as I write this log entry. Already this morning, I took Delia the dog for a long walk to the gorge overlook at the 35th street parking lot, and then later sat on the deck, facing the sun for about 20 minutes. O warming, healing sun! I didn’t run outside because I’m trying to go easy on my left lower back and hip. Also, I wanted to do my reciting while running experiment. I recorded myself reciting Mary Oliver’s “Invitation” from memory while biking (heart rate: 120 bpm) and then later while running (150 bpm)

Reciting “Invitation” while biking
Reciting “Invitation” while running

Listening back to both recordings, I like the one when I am running better than the biking one. A bit smoother–even with the “melodious” mistake.Was there a difference in breathing and cadence? I’m not sure.

dec 8/RUN

5k
43rd ave, north/edmund, south/loop around Howe
31 degrees/90% humidity

So humid this morning. The moisture in the air didn’t bother my skin or my breathing, only my eyes. Difficult to see. No problems recognizing objects, but it felt like I was looking at everything through a thin veil. Strange. My lower back on the left side–the usual spot–was sore for the first mile. My body is ready for a break. I just need to make it for a few more weeks. Less than 40 miles to reach my goal. After I warmed up, it was a nice run. Here’s a few things I remember:

  • The upper campus (high schoolers) at Minnehaha Academy seems to be closed for in-person school; the parking to was almost empty
  • Hardly anyone out walking or running or biking
  • Couldn’t see the river–I was too far away, but could see the air above it and the possibility of the river below, if that makes any sense
  • I got to greet Dave, the Daily Walker! “Hey Dave!” “Hi Sara. It’s been a long time.” What a nice surprise. He was dressed in black today.
  • Saw a house with a blown-up Darth Vader with candy canes + a minion + Olaf from Frozen+ Mickey Mouse. Wow

Recited several of the door poems I memorized this summer: “I dwell in possibility” “Praying” and “I Remember.” When I finished, I recorded myself reciting “I Remember” by Anne Sexton.

I Remember by Anne Sexton/ 8 December

I got almost all of the words right. A few errors that made the poem seem clunkier–a was instead of is, an extra that, days instead of times. It is fascinating to listen back to myself and see the mistakes I don’t realize I’m making. Favorite lines: “the grass was as tough as hemp” and “we wore our bare feet bare since the 20th of June” and “while the sun blew out of sight like a red picture hat” and those invisible snoring beetles! I love them.

dec 7/RUN

3.2 miles
turkey hollow
32 degrees/86% humidity

No sun this morning but also not much wind or people. No snow on the ground or on the path. A great morning for a run! No turkey at turkey hollow but plenty of kids yelling joyfully at the school playground–Minnehaha Academy is still having in-person classes. Ran right above the river on the trail but I don’t remember looking down at the river even once. Did I? I remember looking out to the other side, the St. Paul side, and hearing a strange buzzing sound across the gorge. It was not a leaf blower but a saw or something that grinds or chips or cuts. I remember noticing the bare mesa and the leafless trees in the oak savanna and the chain on the 38th street stairs closing them off for the winter. I remember glancing down at the Winchell Trail between 42nd and 44th and briefly considering taking it. I remember thinking the hill on 47th, just past turkey hollow, seemed steeper today.

Delight of the Day: Geese!

Running on Edmund right by Dowling Elementary I heard some honking. Geese! Flying above me, not too high. As I ran, I tipped my baseball cap up and craned my neck to watch them. I imagine they were calling to me, like Mary Oliver’s wild geese, harsh and exciting, announcing my place in the family of things.

This morning, before going out for my run, I re-memorized Rita Dove’s “Voiceover.” Then, while running, I recited it in my head. Finally, within a minute of finishing my run, when my heart rate was probably 160 or 170, I recorded myself reciting it into my phone. Not perfect, but not too many mistakes. Such a fun way to run. I have missed reciting while running!

Voiceover by Rita Dove/ 7 December

Favorite passage today (even though I didn’t get it quite right in the recording):

It likes a dream when a voice whispers
Open wide and you do but it’s not your mouth anymore
because now you’re all throat
a tunnel skewered by air.
And so you rewind and this time
when you open wide, you’re standing
outside your skin, looking down
at the damage, leaning in close…
about to dive back into your body
and then you wake up.

When I was doing this reciting while running project in the spring/summer, I also mentioned this: I memorize the words, but not the punctuation or the line breaks so when I try to write out my memorized poems, I don’t always get those right. Is it just me? Are other people able to memorize everything? Is it important to do so? I’m sure it changes the poem, but is that a problem?

Covid Cases: 350,000 MN/ 14.76 million (US)
Covid Deaths: 4,000 MN/ 282,375 (US)*

*I use my run and being outside and memorizing poems and getting lost in words and making note of daily delights as a way to endure this terrible, unbelievable time. Such shocking numbers and, while there’s hope with the vaccine, there’s also a lot of death and suffering still to come. Mostly, I’m doing okay but I worry about the toll of all this fear and anxiety and stress on my body–on all of our bodies. What new diseases and disorders will we develop from all of this?

dec 6/WALKBIKE

walk: 45 minutes
neighborhood, boulevard, beside the gorge
bike: 30 minutes
bike stand, basement

Almost there. I have 24 more days to run 44.2 miles. My body is getting tired and needs more breaks as I get closer to the end. I’m trying to be cautious and not over do it. I wanted to run outside this morning–the paths are clear and it’s not too windy, but my lower back and hip are a bit sore so I biked instead. Difficult to not run when I want to. Always more difficult than getting myself out the door on a day when my body’s healthy and I should be running.

Even without a run, was able to walk with Scott and Delia across from the gorge on the grassy boulevard. Beautiful! I love looking over to the gorge, with all the grayish-brown leafless branches offering a view to the other side. Not sure how many people agree, but I think it’s wonderful. We couldn’t see the river or the gorge, but I could tell it’s there, I can feel the openness, the uncrowded air, the possibility.

Last night, Scott and I took Delia out for a walk when it was dark. We didn’t know when we stepped outside but it was snowing. Quiet, soft, steady flakes falling, dusting the sidewalk. Looking at all the Christmas lights inside and outside of the houses, it felt like a winter wonderland. Not too cold, not too icy, not too crowded. Just right. I am ready for snow. I am starting to gather together some snow poems to memorize for the occasion.

Speaking of memorizing, I’m reviewing all of the poems that I memorized this spring and summer as part of my end of the year wrap-up. Today’s poems: It’s all I have to bring today, Threshold, and Dear One Absent this Long While. I recorded myself reciting them while I biked in the basement. Here’s the final one:

Reciting “Dear One Absent…” 6 December 2020

I had forgotten how much I enjoy memorizing and reciting poems. I’ve missed it while I’ve been working on my own writing project. It’s nice to take a break from my writing and return to the words of others. Reviewing these poems makes me want to memorize more Emily Dickinson. She is the best. So much fun to say her words and they stay with me much better than some of the poems by other poets. I also love Rita Dove. Her “Ode to my right knee,” that I reviewed yesterday is one of my favorites.

dec 4/RUN

2.5 miles
neighborhood
38 degrees

Feeling sore–not hurt, just sore–in my legs and lower back so I wasn’t sure I would run today but when Scott said it seemed like a great day to run outside, I had to do it. Sunny, mild, clear. A bit windy, but not too bad. A few more people since it is warmish and closer to noon, but I managed to keep distance from all of them. Listened to a playlist again so I didn’t hear any birds or leaves or far away traffic. I’m very close to my goal of 1000 miles for the year! I should take 3 or 4 days off from running once I reach that goal. My body needs it. 1000 miles has demanded a lot–I’ve run almost every day this year. Almost all of those runs have been short–4 or 5k–but frequent. Will I ever be able to run more than 1000 miles in a year? Would that be good for my body? I’m not sure.

Anything I remember from my run? My mind has gone blank. No views of the river, no remarkable trees, no roller skiers or fat tires or Daily Walker. I do remember running on the dirt trail between the river road and edmund. Uneven and windy (as in lots of meandering, not a stiff breeze). I remember wanting to stop at the top of the edmund hill to change my music but deciding to keep going. I remember seeing lots of cars on the river road and running in the grass at Howe field to avoid pedestrians. I remember stepping off the sidewalk and running in the street several times to avoid some more people, doing a loop around Cooper and Howe, smelling something overwhelmingly fruity coming from a van and guessing that someone inside of it was vaping. I remember feeling especially strong and smooth as I ran down the hill on 32nd and especially nostalgic as I ran by the main entrance at my kids’ old kindergarten. I don’t remember taking note of my breathing or making up any chants or noticing any connections between my striking feet and my inhales and exhales.

Richard Siken is the Best

I think it was last year that poets.org began including an “About this poem” author’s note with the poem-of-the-day. I find them helpful and interesting and always look at them after my initial reading of the poem. Richard Aiken’s “About this poem” note for today’s “Real Estate” is the best, most delightful one I’ve ever read. It offers an explanation that helped me to (start to) understand the poem, which is great, but it also offers itself up as another poem to place beside the first one. How cool to turn the note into a poem! I want to experiment with doing this, especially since I am so resistant to offering explanations for what I’m doing (even as I feel I should and/or long to).

Real Estate/ Richard Siken

My mother married a man who divorced her for money. Phyllis, he would say, If you don’t stop buying jewelry, I will have to divorce you to keep us out of the poorhouse. When he said this, she would stub out a cigarette, mutter something under her breath. Eventually, he was forced to divorced her. Then, he died. Then she did. The man was not my father. My father was buried down the road, in a box his other son selected, the ashes of his third wife in a brass urn that he will hold in the crook of his arm forever. At the reception, after his funeral, I got mean on four cups of Lime Sherbet Punch. When the man who was not my father divorced my mother, I stopped being related to him. These things are complicated, says the Talmud. When he died, I couldn’t prove it. I couldn’t get a death certificate. These things are complicated, says the Health Department. Their names remain on the deed to the house. It isn’t haunted, it’s owned by ghosts. When I die, I will come in fast and low. I will stick the landing. There will be no confusion. The dead will make room for me.

About this poem

“I had a stroke and forgot almost everything. My handwriting was big and crooked and I couldn’t walk. I slept a lot. I made lists, a working glossary. Meat. Blood. Floor. Thunder. I tried to understand what these things were and how I was related to them. Thermostat. Agriculture. Cherries Jubilee. Metamodernism. I understand North, but I struggle with left. Describing the world is easier than finding a place in it. Doorknob. Flashlight. Landmark. Yardstick.”
Richard Siken

I want to experiment with adding these notes to my mood ring poems–and maybe my earlier Snellen chart ones too. Is that too much?

dec 3/RUN

2.7 miles
river road path, south/edmund, north
30 degrees

Another great morning for a run. Not windy or crowded. Lots of sun. Clear paths and sidewalks. Listened to Taylor Swift on Spotify. Felt strong and happy to be outside above the river which was glowing brightly again through the bare trees, looking almost like a heat mirage in the summer. The air, wavy. Noticed at least one person below on the Winchell Trail wearing a bright blue jacket. Anything else? No fat tires or roller skiers or groups of runners or turkeys or squirrels.

Critter Sighting!

A fox! At least, I’m pretty sure it was a fox hauling ass across the street straight into someone’s back yard, probably heading to 7 Oaks and its massive sinkhole. Looked too big and too fast to be a cat, too furry and feline-like to be a dog. Glad they kept running and left me alone! I am a wimp when it comes to wildlife. Sure, I’m very excited to spot a coyote or a fox or a muskrat, but only from a safe distance.

Discovered this awesome poem about a woodpecker this morning:

A woodpecker’s/ PHILIP GROSS

working the valley
or is it the other way round?

That bone-clinking clatter, maracas
or knucklebones or dance of  gravel

on a drumskin, the string of  the air
twanged on the hollow body of  itself …

It’s the tree that gives voice,
the fifty-foot windpipe, and the bird

is its voice box, the shuddering
membrane that troubles the space

inside, which otherwise would be
all whispers, scratch-and-scrabblings,

the low dry flute-mouth of wind
at its  just-right or just-wrong angle,

the cough-clearing of moss
or newly ripened rot falling in.

But the woodpecker picks the whole
wood up and shakes it, plays it

as his gamelan, with every sounding
pinged from every branch his instrument.

Or rather, it’s the one dead trunk,
the tree, that sings its dying, and this

is the quick of  it; red-black-white, the bird
in uniform, alert, upstanding to attention

is its attention, our attention, how the forest,
in this moment, looks up, knows itself.

I want to study this poem. So many amazing descriptions! I think I’ll print it out and add it to the poems I have displayed under the glass on my desk.

Gamelan (gam elan): an Indonesian orchestra primarily made up of percussion instruments such as gongs, xylophones, drums.

And that last line! “upstanding to attention/is its attention, our attention, how the forest, /in this moment, looks up, knows itself.”

dec 2/WALK

45 minutes
neighborhood + gorge with Delia the Dog
33 degrees

This year, I’ve only been posting here after a run, but I wanted to rest from running but not from writing, so I decided to break my rule and write about my wonderful walk with Delia the Dog. What a gorgeous late fall morning! What wonderful light! And the birds! I heard a few “chick-a-dee-dee-dees” and plenty of caws, at least two drum rolls from pecking woodpeckers. I stood still and stared high up into the trees, but I couldn’t see either of the woodpeckers. How small were they? The view to the other side was calming and pretty–not breathtaking but breath giving. Everywhere was filled with sounds–rustling leaves, clanging collars, chirping birds, whooshing car wheels–yet it was quiet and empty. I let Delia sniff as much as she wanted down in the leaf-covered grass beside the river road and below Edmund. At some point during the walk, moving slowly and breathing in deeply, I felt a slight comforting buzz through my entire body. Such a great feeling.

Here’s a great poem I discovered this morning on twitter:

In drear nighted December/ John Keats – 1795-1821

In drear nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity—
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

Ah! would ’twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy—
But were there ever any
Writh’d not of passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.

dec 1/RUN

3.05 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, west/river road trail, south/42nd st, west/edmund, north
18 degrees/feels like 10

Colder today than yesterday, which was already pretty cold for most–and too cold for Scott. Love it! Less people, fresher air, a feeling of accomplishment from just getting out the door and braving the cold. Beautiful sun. Not warm, but giving the illusion of warmth and making the frost on the field at Cooper School look enchanted, almost like fairy dust or the aftermath of a glitter bomb.

Running down 32nd towards the river, I noticed a lone black glove on the sidewalk. Saw some people across the street and almost called out to them, “excuse me! did you drop a glove?” I didn’t. Why is the lone glove I see on the sidewalk always black? Do I just notice the black ones, or are most gloves that color? Have I ever seen any other color of glove left behind? I don’t think so. When (and if) I do, I will make a ridiculously big deal about it on this log, which makes me happy that I have been able to find delight and joy in such small things. Finding a blue (or red or pink) glove when I usually find a black one is enough for me.

Delight of the Day, or Today’s Reason for Joy

One: the river, again. Glowing, shimmering, flashing. The light didn’t bother me, but I could feel it reflecting off of my face.

Two: A male black-capped chickadee! I heard the feebee call this morning as I ran south. It was almost drowned out by all the crows, but I’m sure I heard it. Normally, I only notice these in the spring. Ever since I read that they sing all winter, I’ve been listening harder for them and today it paid off!

Anything else? Was able to keep plenty of distance between me and the few people out on the trail. Encountered only 1 bike. Again, no roller skiers.

layers

green shirt, pink jacket, gray jacket, 2 pairs of black running tights, 2 pairs of socks, pink headband, black baseball cap, hood, buff, 2 pairs of gloves

layers lost: buff started on my ears and mouth, ended around my neck, hood down, took off one pair of gloves during mile 2

What Things Want/ Robert Bly – 1926-

You have to let things
Occupy their own space.
This room is small,
But the green settee

Likes to be here.
The big marsh reeds,
Crowding out the slough,
Find the world good.

You have to let things
Be as they are.
Who knows which of us
Deserves the world more?

Love this poem by Minnesota poet Robert Bly and completely agree with the idea that “You have to let things/Be as they are.”

Almost forgot. I posted my Mood Rings chapbook on my writing site! Very proud of the work I have done with these poems.

nov 30/RUN

3.15 miles
turkey hollow
20 degrees/feels like 13

Much colder today, which is fine with me. I’m ready for some proper winter running.

layers I started with: hood, black cap, ear bands (a headband to cover my ears), pink jacket, black vest, green shirt, 2 pairs of running tights, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of gloves, a buff

layers I shed: hood, 1 pair of gloves

I encountered a few runners and walkers but we were all able to keep our distance. No fat tires or roller skiers. Heard the kids on the playground at Minnehaha Academy. Minnesota kids learn early how to handle the cold. Didn’t see any turkeys in turkey hollow. Don’t remember hearing any leaf blowers or chainsaws.

Listened to a playlist, mainly because I was trying to get a Christmas song out of my head that I heard when I turned on the radio this morning–the really dark new year’s eve one about when a famous singer returns to his home town encounters his first love at a grocery store and pity drinks a 6 pack with her in the car. Of course, now I have the song in my head again.

Delight of the Day

The river! Running south on the river road, suddenly I noticed it through the tall, slender tree trunks: bright, sparkling white. Or was it glowing or shimmering or flickering like the flame from a fire? Not just one spot, but the whole river. Wow. The brightness of it all didn’t bother me, even though light sensitivity is one of the symptoms of cone dystrophy. I’m not sure it completely fits, but the light on the river this morning reminded me of Danez Smith’s description of a frozen Minnesota lake in “I’m Going back to Minnesota Where Sadness Makes Sense”:

Have you ever stood on a frozen lake, California?
The sun above you, the snow & stalled sea—a field of mirror

all demanding to be the sun too, everything around you
is light & it’s gorgeous & if you stay too long it will kill you

& it’s so sad, you know? You’re the only warm thing for miles
& the only thing that can’t shine.

Would I call the sun this morning a mirror? I’m not sure but I love their description of the lake and everything but us being light and able to shine.

Other words for sparkle: gleam, glow, glint, glitter, glisten

Scrolling through my Safari reading list, looking for something else, I found this poem and cold mornings:

Cold Morning/ Eamon Grennan

Through an accidental crack in the curtain
I can see the eight o’clock light change from
charcoal to a faint gassy blue, inventing things

in the morning that has a thick skin of ice on it
as the water tank has, so nothing flows, all is bone,
telling its tale of how hard the night had to be

for any heart caught out in it, just flesh and blood
no match for the mindless chill that’s settled in,
a great stone bird, its wings stretched stiff

from the tip of Letter Hill to the cobbled bay, its gaze
glacial, its hook-and-scrabble claws fast clamped
on every window, its petrifying breath a cage

in which all the warmth we were is shivering.

Love the description of the morning light as gassy blue and the metaphor of the mindless chill as a great stone bird with the glacial gaze and breath that cages our warmth and leaves us shivering.

nov 29/BIKERUN

bike: 23 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 2.25 miles
treadmill, basement

Windy and dusty and chilly. After taking a walk with Delia and Scott earlier this morning, I decided to stay inside for a bike and run workout. It’s hard spending a lot of time on either the bike or the treadmill in the basement but it still felt good. So nice to move and listen to music and not worry about pandemics or soon to be ex presidents or allergies or clueless people refusing to be careful. Don’t remember thinking about much when I worked out. Maybe, if I run more in the basement this winter, I should work on memorizing and reciting more poems?

Here’s a poem from William Blake in honor of his 263rd birthday:

A Divine Image/ William Blake – 1757-1827

Cruelty has a Human heart
And Jealousy a Human Face,
Terror, the Human Form Divine,
And Secrecy, the Human Dress.

The Human Dress is forgéd Iron,
The Human Form, a fiery Forge,
The Human Face, a Furnace seal’d,
The Human Heart, its hungry Gorge.

I like this last line about the heart as a hungry gorge.

And another one:

The Fly/ William Blake – 1757-1827

Little fly,
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath,
And the want
Of thought is death,

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

I remember poets.org posted this one the day after the vice presidential debate when Pence had the fly on his head. Ha ha. This one might be fun to memorize and try to recite while running on the treadmill.

nov 28/RUN

3 miles
neighborhood
36 degrees
COVID cases: 295,001 (MN)/ 13.1 million (US)
COVID deaths: 3,476 (MN)/ 264,977 (US)

More sun today. Very nice after the gloom even if it makes it harder to see other people. Thankfully, I hardly encountered anyone with my meandering sidewalk route. Very nice. Ran with my shadow for at least part of the time. Tried to go slower, but it was hard; I still went much faster in my second and third miles. Don’t remember hearing any roller skiers or seeing any fat tires. No big groups of runners or bikers or walkers. Never got close enough to see the river. No geese or turkeys or squirrels. I do remember hearing a runner calling out to someone about how it was a nice day for a run. Anything else? I smelled the smoke near Edmund and 38th. Is that coming from a chimney or fire pit in someone’s yard or the gorge?

Just heard on the radio that the high today is 54. Nice! I think I’ll sit on the deck or the front steps sometime today. Yesterday I sat on the front steps and heard a black capped chickadee. I’ll take these small delights in the midst of the scary news about uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.

Praise Song for the Day/ ELIZABETH ALEXANDER

A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need.
What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Oh this poem! “What if the mightiest word is love?” “love with no need to pre-empt grievance.” “today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air” “on the brink, on the brim, on the cusp”, and “we walk into that which we cannot yet see”.

nov 26/RUN

7K (4.3 miles)
franklin loop
34 degrees

For our annual Thanksgiving morning run, Scott and I decided to do the Franklin loop. On the way there, we stopped at his favorite spot right above the river road and the Franklin bridge. I was going to embed the photo from instagram but I can’t do that–what can’t I do that anymore? Oh well, here’s the link: Scott and Sara’s 7K

Things I Remember

  • mostly people who cared and who tried to keep distance, a few who did not–the people in the tunnel at Brackett Park, the runners who took over the narrow lake street bridge and barely moved
  • the soft, fuzzy (or furry?) browns of the leafless treeline, the pale blue of the river, the white sunless sky
  • yard signs: Dogs for Biden, Cats for Biden
  • discovering another street to take instead of the sometimes crowded path on the St. Paul side
  • easy relaxed run with a conversation–what did we talk about? Do I remember any of it? Not sure but that’s okay
  • running on the sidewalk by the fancy houses on the east river road
  • running by a less fancy house, hearing a noise, and playing one of my new favorite games: is it a … or a …? Today’s: is it a heater or a vacuum cleaner? Last week’s: is it a chainsaw or a leaf blower?

(from 27 nov) last night and this morning, I remembered a few more things from yesterday’s run I’d like to add:

  • running in the road to avoid people on the sidewalk, noticing the terrible condition of the asphalt. So many cracks and craters and dangerous divots!
  • the trees on the edge of the boulevard leaving precariously towards the street
  • at least 2 different groups of people thanking us for running in the street and giving them distance
  • a good omen: standing at Scott’s favorite spot on the hill above the river road near the franklin bridge, hearing the distinctive clicking and clacking of a roller skier’s ski poles
  • seeing (and counting) so many bright yellow shirts on bikers, one dark gray shirt with a thick horizontal yellow stripe
  • hearing about Scott’s idea for a meta Christmas song: structured like the 12 days of christmas, about the 12 things that must be in all christmas songs
  • admiring the majestic lion statues on pedestals–or, on plinths? I love the word plinth–in front of a equally majestic house, right above the public sidewalk
  • the house that was so big we couldn’t tell right away if it were a house or an apartment and that had a crappy plastic storage shed near one side

nov 25/RUN

2.5 miles (4K)
43rd ave, north/31st st the 32nd st, east/edmund, south/dowling, north/47th st, east
36 degrees

Ran with a playlist this morning and felt wonderfully disconnected from the world. Was able to keep a very safe distance from all of the people I encountered. Even over the song I was listening to, I could hear some geese flying above me. Looked up at the light gray sky but couldn’t see them. Saw two police vehicles with their lights flashing, doors open right above the old stone steps. What happened/was happening? I don’t remember seeing any roller skiers or fat tires or Daily Walker as I ran. I did see at least one dog and almost ran into a spazzy squirrel. Didn’t see the river or smell anything distinctive.

Running Surfaces

  • An undulating sidewalk–the result of tree roots breaking through past asphalt–unevenly resurfaced with concrete and asphalt
  • A muddy sidewalk
  • A road riddled with potholes and manholes and other types of holes
  • Still-green grass
  • Dead leaves
  • Packed dirt, sometimes a trail, sometimes a rut
  • Pine needles
  • Level sidewalks, slanting sidewalks leaning down to the gutter then the street
  • NO sandy grit or acorns or ice or snow or small pebbles or goose poop or chalked up sidewalks with social justice messages or pithy poems or widening cracks or loose gravel (all things I have run on at one time)

Looking at this is what I will be doing for the rest of the day and whenever I need to remember delight*

*the title of a new poem, or a line within it?

a Secretary Bird from twitter

It is very annoying that twitter will not let you embed photos anymore. This bird reminds me of an alphabet book my mom had when I was a kid–maybe I have it now as part of her children’s book collection that I inherited when she died? In this book, there is an image of a bird who is actually a pair of scissors, with the legs as the blades, the body as the handle. The bird looks like the one in this picture. What book is this? Am I misremembering? Will I be able to find out?

nov 24/RUN

2.5 miles
around the neighborhood + tunnel of trees
34 degrees
97% humidity

Dark, damp, deserted. Not desolate because I didn’t find it gloomy or bleak, just empty. Ran through the tunnel of trees, encountering only oneperson. I’m noticing that everyone is more careful lately; giving lots of space to others. On the way to the tunnel, noticed the old stone steps were blocked off for the winter. Even so, someone was running up them as I went by. Did they run back down them? It seemed like they might. Running west on 38th, I suddenly heard loud music off to my side–now I can’t remember what the song was even though I know it–which freaked me out: a person singing along with a radio, about to leave their house and turn onto the sidewalk. Glad they didn’t run into me–that scenario is a Covid nightmare for me.

Let the transition begin! So happy and relieved to hear the news last night that Biden can finally move forward.