august 8/RUNSWIM

run: 5.5 miles
ford loop
57! degrees
8:15 am

What a wonderful morning for a run! I love when it’s cooler. So much easier. Ran the ford loop without stopping. Slow and steady. Only a few thoughts that I can remember, an overheard conversation, and foot strikes, breaths, a few things noticed.

thought: my desire for a view to the other side is not about seeing it, but feeling it, being aware of it.

overheard conversation: 1 male role skier to another, while climbing a hill ahead of me: She’s only waterskiied once! I told her, you can’t say you almost died waterskiing when you’ve only tried it once!

10 Things I Noticed

  1. gushing water out of the sewer pipe below 42nd st
  2. the voices of kids playing on the playgrouds at the church daycare and Dowling Elementary
  3. dripping water from the bluff on the east side of the river
  4. rowers! the coxswain’s voice, 2 shells with 4 rowers each on the river + the boat with the coxswain
  5. climbing the hill near Summit Avenue, almost catching up to the biker ahead of me who seemed to be struggling
  6. beautiful flowers near the monument — can’t remember what kinds or what colors
  7. more views of the blue river on the east side (as opposed to the west side, where I regularly run)
  8. screeching blue jays and squirrels
  9. the small hill just off the ford bridge and down to the river road was dark green and looked mysterious
  10. at the top of the Summit hill on the east side, everything was darker, greener. So dark that the street lamps lining the path were on

Love this poem by Alice Oswald. It would be a great one to memorize — maybe as part of a group on listening?

Birdsong for Two Voices/ Alice Oswald

A spiral ascending the morning,
climbing by means of a song into the sun,
to be sung reciprocally by two birds at intervals
in the same tree but not quite in time.

A song that assembles the earth
out of nine notes and silence.
out of the unformed gloom before dawn
where every tree is a problem to be solved by birdsong.

Crex Crex Corcorovado,
letting their pieces fall where they may,
every dawn divides into the distinct
misgiving between alternate voices

sung repeatedly by two birds at intervals
out of nine notes and silence.
while the sun, with its fingers to the earth,
as the sun proceeds so it gathers instruments:

it gathers the yard with its echoes and scaffolding sounds,
it gathers the swerving away sound of the road,
it gathers the river shivering in a wet field,
it gathers the three small bones in the dark of the eardrum;

it gathers the big bass silence of clouds
and the mind whispering in its shell
and all trees, with their ears to the air,
seeking a steady state and singing it over till it settles.

swim: 5 little loops = 3 big loops
cedar lake open swim
73 degrees
5:30 pm

Wow, what an evening! Sunny, no wind, cooler. The water was clear (visibility at cedar lake = 15.5 feet vs. Nokomis at 1.5 feet). I didn’t worry about getting off course. Not a single swimmer routed me. I swam 4 loops without stopping, then took a quick 30 seconds break before doing the last loop.

Anything I remember? I knew where I was going so it didn’t matter, but I couldn’t see the orange buoy closest to the start until I was almost on top of it. The cause? My vision + a strange placement of the buoy + bright sun in my eyes

One other thing I remembered: as I swam toward hidden beach, I kept thinking someone was next to me, on the left. Almost like a black shadow. Whenever I looked, nothing. Later, swimming back to east point beach, I kept thinking there was a kayak or paddleboard or something off to my left (again, to the left). Nothing and no one. Strange.


bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back
68 degrees / steady drizzle
9:10 am / 11:00 am

Cloudy. Then a few minutes into the bike ride, a steady, soft drizzle. Anything memorable on the ride? Not really.

One thing I’m wondering about: often on Sundays — is it just Sundays? — I notice a clapboard sign on the edge of the small stretch of bike path after you cross the road at Dairy Queen and before you cross the road to the falls parking lot. Usually at least one person is standing beside it. What is it? Is it for a church service at the falls? Some other religious thing? Something else? I’ve never stopped to ask or look at it closely. Will I ever? Probably not.

swim: 4 loops
lake nokomis open swim
68 degrees / cloudy, then drizzle
9:45 am

These 4 loops took me about 60 minutes to swim, no stopping. A loop this year is less than it has been in the past. Partly because I’m looping around the far buoys instead of swimming almost to shore. Maybe I should start trying to swim to shore again, to make these loops longer? I’ll try it on Tuesday. I started out breathing every 3, then as I warmed up, every 5. I spent a lot of the first loops trying to not worry too much about an ailing parent. The other thing I had trouble getting out of my head: the line from a Mary Poppins’ song: Anything can happen if you let it. What kind of bad magic is in that line that makes me unable to get it out of my head?

10 Things I Remember

  1. a few planes flying above me
  2. the opaque water below me — looking down at the nothingness between breaths
  3. thinking about the other world being underwater and holding my breath creates
  4. having some difficulty breathing to my left — I might be breathing too soon, tried working on waiting a little longer in my stroke to breathe
  5. the lifeguard kayaks were closer into the buoys, the buoys were farther from my favorite landmark: the silver bottom of an overturned rowboat
  6. the green buoy getting lost (at least for me) amongst the while sailboats
  7. one annoying swimmer who was swimming faster than me but managed to time it so they ended up at the buoys at the same time as me and would route me again and again and again (at least 3 times)
  8. feeling warmed up and on auto-pilot by the end of the 3rd loop
  9. thinking my goggles had fogged up for the 4th lap, then realizing when I stopped that it was raining. I hadn’t felt the rain at all in the water
  10. barely underwater, trying to see the raindrops as they broke through the surface. I couldn’t; the water was too cloudy

Speaking of rain, found this wonderful poem yesterday:

The Rain Stick/ Seamus Heaney

Up-end the stick and what happens next
is a music that you never would have known
to listen for. In a cactus stalk

Downpour, sluice-rush, spillage and backwash
come flowing through. You stand there like a pipe
being played by water, you shake it again lightly

and diminuendo runs through all its scales
like a gutter stopping trickling. And now here comes
a sprinkle of drops out of the freshened leaves,

Then subtle little wets off grass and daisies;
the glitter-drizzle, almost-breaths of air.
up-end the stick again. What happens next

is undiminished for having happened once,
twice, ten, and thousand times before.
who cares if all the music that transpires

is the fall of grit or dry seeds through a cactus?
You are like a rich man entering heaven
through the ear of a raindrop. Listen now again.

I’m sure I’ve heard a rain stick before, but it’s been a long time. These descriptions of the sound of water helped me to remember something from the end of the swim: after exiting the water, walking through the soft drizzle (was it a glitter drizzle?), I heard the rain falling off of the roof of the building. At the edges of the building, just past the overhang the water would collect momentarily then fall louder and harder and bigger than when it came straight from the sky. Out in the open the water was silent, gentle. Near the building, it was hard and loud.

run: 3.1 miles
trestle turn around
75 degrees / dew point: 65
4:30 pm

Decided to run so I could reach my weekly goal of 20 miles. It’s been harder to reach it in the summer, with all the swimming. The first mile was fine. After that, I felt warm. Listened to a playlist because I’m still trying to get Mary Poppins out of my head. Ended with Beyoncé. I don’t remember looking at the river even once while I ran. The sky was a white-ish gray. Rain’s coming back in a few hours.

an image: near the trestle, a black bike hoisted up off the ground, kept in a place by a bike lock attached to the railing. A strange way to lock up a bike! Joined by a bunch of other bikes all along the fence, near the stone steps that lead down to the Winchell Trail. What’s going on down there?

august 6/RUN

4.6 miles
veterans’ home loop
73 degrees
humidity: 91% / dew point: 70

Slept in until 9 this morning! That’s the latest I’ve been asleep in years. Nice. It’s probably because it was dark and rainy this morning. A few thunderstorms too. Finally able to make it outside at noon. A nice, relaxed run.

Evidence of Rain

  1. puddled path
  2. squeaky shoes
  3. gushing ravine
  4. a big green mass of leaves at the edge of the trail, drooping so much I almost had to duck as I ran under it
  5. dripping trees
  6. slick car wheels
  7. mud on the sidewalk — I almost slipped!
  8. wet asphalt
  9. a roaring falls
  10. everything a little greener, richer, fuller

A few other things:

  1. the metallic whistle of a robin (I think?)
  2. a wedding party at the falls
  3. music playing out of a car stereo
  4. a young kid biking next to a running, shirtless adult
  5. running up the stairs two at a time
  6. loud birds below me near the creek as I ran over the bridge to the veterans’ home
  7. a woman on the path, kindly moving over for me as I ran by
  8. wildflowers growing through the slats of a bench near the locks and dam no. 1
  9. a group of bikers meeting up at the falls
  10. kids at the wabun playground, constantly ringing a bell — a ring and a pause then a ring again…ring….ring….ring

Found a wonderful essay on craft via twitter from a local teacher/poet. Here’s a passage about the last 3 lines, then the poem it refers to:

It’s an ecstatic moment. We break horses; we break into song; daffodils break into blossom; the line broke on break; and the whole damn thing just broke me wide open. I read the poem again and again, always focusing on that lovely turn. It seemed the enjambment to end all enjambments, 

Crafty Craftiness of Uncraft/ Michael Bazzett

A Blessing/ James Wright

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

august 5/SWIM

3 loops
lake nokomis open swim
80 degrees
9:40 am

Standing at the picnic table where Scott was sitting after open swim, looking out at the sparkling water, feeling the breeze, I said, “Ah, this is the life!” That about sums it up for me. Open water swimming at this lake is one of my most favorite things to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s choppy, which it was, or hard to sight, that too. I love it. I feel calm and strong and satisfied.

images of the day

A vee of geese flying fairly low over the lake, maybe a dozen? I couldn’t hear them, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I was seeing. It’s not unusual to see geese already starting to fly south in august. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about them in past august entries.

Another swimmer, only appearing as dancing light on the surface of the water.

Anything else? Waves, swells, making it hard sometimes to do a full stroke. A few planes flying above me, and seagulls. Some dude doing tai-chi at the edge of the beach. One white sailboat — this one wasn’t menancing.

a line I should recite before entering the water:

It is time now, I said,
for the deepening and quieting of the spirit
among the flux of happenings.

from “Swimming, one day in August”/ Mary Oliver

Another bird call identified! At least since last year, I’ve been hearing this metallic, kind of like a tin whistle, call from a bird, but I couldn’t figure out what kind of bird was making it. This morning, while finishing up my oatmeal, I heard it again. This time right out in our big service berry bush, which has become more like tree than bush. I couldn’t see it, but I heard it make this call a few times, then right before it flew away, it did another call. This call I knew — the irritating shriek of the blue jay. A blue jay? Looked it up and found the call on! Well, not exactly but almost. It’s the sixth call down, the one from Florida, 1962. Excellent!

Scott and FWA are both playing in the pit for Mary Poppins this week in Austin. We went to the show last night; it was great. Kept thinking about the last song, “Anything Can Happen”:

Anything can happen if you let it

Stretch your mind beyond fantastic
Dreams are made of strong elastic

Turn it on it’s head then pirouette it
Anything can happen if you let it.

If you reach for the stars
All you get are the stars

But we’ve found a whole new spin
If you reach for the heavens
You get the stars thrown in.

There are different ways to intepret this song; I like the idea of it being about letting go, not getting in your own way, not trying too hard to do one thing but doing something else and seeing what happens. You could read these lyrics as making your dreams bigger, more expansive. I like that, but I also like thinking about them as advice for approaching your goals from the side instead of head on.

The idea of not getting in your own way, reminds me of Ron Padgett’s great poem, How to Be Perfect:

Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don’t do
anything to make it impossible.

august 4/RUN

3.1 miles
marshall loop (short)
62 degrees
8:00 am

Ran the marshall loop with Scott. The plan was to end at Dogwood and get some coffee, but Dogwood was too busy, so we skipped it (and saved $20 which makes the frugal me happy).

The river was a beautiful blue. Calm. On the way back over it, I heard the distant voice of the coxswain. The rowers! Also noticed the shadows of the trees on the water — on the far side, turning the water a dark green, on the near side, reflecting fuzzy outlines of the tops of the trees.

No sound of water trickling as we ran above shadow falls. It’s very dry here.

august 3/RUNSWIM

run: 3.8 miles
river road path, north/south
78 degrees
9:15 am

Before I went out for my run, I began to re-memorize the poem, Babel by Kimberly Johnson. I got this far:

My god, it’s loud out here, so loud the air
is rattled. Who with the hissing of trees,
the insect chatter, can fix devotion
on holy things, the electrical bugs so loud
the air is stunned, windy the leaves’ applause
redoubled by the clapping wings

of magpies?

I recited it in my head as I started out above the river, but even though there were many cars and people, it did not feel loud in that frantic, intense way. I felt the calm of the whooshing wheels of cars in no particular hurry, the click click scrape of ski poles from an assembly line of roller skiers — more than a dozen of them, all wearing bright orange t-shirts (is that a good name for a group of roller skiers? I’ll keep working on it.) No clapping wings or hissing trees.

Didn’t see the river. I looked once, but it was hidden by the leaves. Didn’t really notice the tunnel of trees either. I think I looked for stacked stones but I can’t remember if any where there. Heard no rowers below.

Raise your heads, pals (a favorite line from Dorothea Tanning’s “Woman Waving at Trees”): Spotted at least 2 airplanes, flying across the sky. I knew the first one was a plane. At first I thought the second was the moon. Speaking of the moon, Scott just told me about how some scientists (from UCLA, I looked it up later) have determined that some pits on the moon, which they identified in 2009 as having a constant climate in the 60s, might lead to larger caves which you could be used a base camps for longer stays on the moon. What? Cool. Another cool thing that I found in the article, which I probably learned at some point and should remember: A day on the moon lasts about 15 Earth days, and a night lasts about 15 Earth days. Can you imagine how different everything would be if our days and nights lasted that long?

I did some triple berry chants:


ice cream truck
ice cream cone
ice cream cake

creme brulé

chocolate (to me, it sounded like, chock uh lut)

Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker.

Overheard: It’s impossible to _______. It’s impossible to what? I thought about trying to imagine endings to that sentence but decided I didn’t want to think about what was impossible, just what was possible.

Turned around just past the 2 mile mark. Stopped to put in my headphones (Lover/ Taylor Swift).

Thought about the Apple+ show I started watching last week, The Morning Show, especially the line about how people are drawn to tragedy and the worst news, and that they don’t want more real news or facts, but entertainment. Then ruminated over: Do people watch the news when things are going well? If not, what do we do with that? Lots of other wandering thoughts about the need for hopeful stories, and how people in power try to hold onto their power by keeping everyone afraid. This flurry of thoughts is hard to sum up into a coherent statement — kind of like when you try to tell someone the plot of your dream and it’s too strange or non-sensical or not nearly as mind-blowing to them as it seems to you. And, like a dream, these thoughts lasted less than a minute. Then they were gone.

I also briefly thought about the CAConrad somatic exercise I wrote about in this log yesterday, and how creative writing comes from the focus, or the shift in focus, that tragedy/depression enables/requires/demands. How does moving outside, engaging in strenuous (but not too strenuous) activity enable us to shift our focus in ways that encourages creativity? How is this focus similar and different from the shift that happens when we are undone by tragedy?

Here’s a cool poem I encountered the other day, from the instagram account, The Kashmir Maibox:

M. / Claire Wahmanholm

M is for murmur and mutter—the ambiguity of the mobius strip, the marsh, the maybe trembling between two membranes. M is for mother, dark matter, the matrix that cradles the muscadine, marble, monosylla-ble, moon. Be menagerie, multivocal, madrigal. I carry your multitudes through midsummer, through marigolds and mayapples, through mud. I hide you in the middle of a maze, bury you like minerals in the mine of my body. You are marrow-deep, marine, mollusk in your mother of pearl hull. The months are a moat between you and melancholy, missiles, mourning. M is for the meteor magnifying through the telescope’s lens, the metronome unmuffling. M is for metamorphosis and mutant. I am more and more mountainous. I am a mare rolling in a midnight meadow, all musk and muzzle. M is for the migrations of monarchs, mule deer, mullet, for magnetic fields, for the way the world pulls you from me and you materialize. You are motor turned music, machine turned mortal. I am mended and marooned somewhere between mist and milk. I molt, am mangled. I molt, am myself. 

swim: 5 smaller loops = 3 big loops / 2800 yards
cedar lake open swim
80 degrees
5:45 pm

No buoys today. The air pump for blowing them wasn’t working. I thought there might be chaos in the water, but it was fine. No collisions. And I was fine, because I don’t need the buoys to see. I can’t usually see them anyway. It was windy again, with lots of choppy, wavy water. This time the waves rocked me instead of slammed into me. The sky was mostly blue with a few puffy clouds. The water was clear — I could see the sandy floor beneath me when I was close to shore. I breathed every 5 or 4, sometimes 6. A great swim!

august 2/RUN

2 trails
71 degrees / dew point: 64
8:30 am

Warm this morning. And humid. Tonight during open swim it’s supposed to be 95. I listened to a playlist as I ran up above, nothing down below. The thing I remember most is the river. As I ran on the lower trail, I could feel the water shining off to my right. A constant presence of both the water and the idea of water beside me. Anything else? Greeted Mr. Morning!, passed some walkers and bikers.

Things that were missing

  1. the sound of trickling water from the sewers
  2. roller skiers
  3. fat tires
  4. Dave, the Daily Walker
  5. black capped chickadees
  6. crows
  7. woodpeckers
  8. rowers
  9. overheard conversations
  10. squirrels

Discovered this wonderful piece in the latest issue of Visible Binary: Ignition Chronicles / CAConrad

We live our lives with our list of daily routines, from washing our bodies to obeying traffic signals on our way to work. There is so much to remember to get through the day. When tragedy disrupts our routines, suddenly, all of our attention is centered on that loss. It is in the focus of loss where many believe they can write better: Focus, the keyword.

It is crucial to learn that the focus the depression offers helps us write, not the depression itself. After we finally understand this, we see how we can orchestrate any focus we want, to write whenever and however we want! (Soma)tic poetry rituals have given me eyes to see the creative viability in everything around us for the poems!

I’m thinking about this idea of focus in terms of attention and Simone Weil’s idea of pure attention as not will but surrender, and how the disruption of grief forces a surrender and a loss of control. What rituals/practices can we create to enable that surrender without grief or tragedy?

august 1/RUN

dogwood loop (marshall)*
69 degrees
9:00 am

*43rd ave, north/31st, east/up to lake street bridge/marshall hill/cretin/river road/lake street to dogwood

Ran with Scott this morning. Ended at Dogwood Coffee. Didn’t notice as much becasue we were talking the whole time. Can I remember 10 things? I’ll try.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the river: blue, empty except for a few glittering spots
  2. road work just the end of the lake/marshall bridge: the beep beep beep of a truck backing up and the clunk of some big machine pounding the pavement
  3. graffitti on the backs of some signs — where was that? I can’t recall — probably on marshall
  4. passing a man with a tight hold on the leash of a big dog — he stepped onto the grass to let us pass
  5. a runner who ran in the grass as he approached us
  6. a car in a driveway waiting for a break in the traffic
  7. a little kid on a scooter, about to cross the street with an adult
  8. no one near Black Coffee
  9. stepping into the street to avoid a sprinkler
  10. hot sun but cool shade

Wow, that was difficult. It took a few minutes to come up with this list of 10!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned collective nouns in my class. Here’s a great poem I just found with some collective nouns for humans:

Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild/ Kathy Fish

A group of grandmothers is a tapestry. A group of toddlers, a jubilance (see also: a bewailing). A group of librarians is an enlightenment. A group of visual artists is a bioluminescence. A group of short story writers is a Flannery. A group of musicians is — a band.

A resplendence of poets.

A beacon of scientists.

A raft of social workers.

A group of first responders is a valiance. A group of peaceful protestors is a dream. A group of special education teachers is a transcendence. A group of neonatal ICU nurses is a divinity. A group of hospice workers, a grace.

Humans in the wild, gathered and feeling good, previously an exhilaration, now: a target.

A target of concert-goers.

A target of movie-goers.

A target of dancers.

A group of schoolchildren is a target.