july 8/RUN

4 miles
marshall loop (cleveland)
66 degrees

Another beautiful summer morning: cool, quiet, not too humid or crowded. My quads and knees are still a little sore, and I was a bit stuffed up, but mostly I felt fine. Ran up the marshall hill, only stopping briefly for a red light near the bottom. Had a green light that was about to turn at the top so I sprinted across the street, then kept going.

Saw the river today as I ran over the lake street bridge. All I remember is seeing some rowers — 2 small shells. What color was the water? Was it flat? smooth? sparkling? I have no idea.

Anything else I remember? Noisy birds, bikers, pairs of runners, voices drifting across Summit avenue from some building at St. Thomas.

Carl Phillips

This morning while drinking my coffee, I came across a link to a PBS interview with one of my favorite poets, Carl Phillips. Maybe I should study Phillips for the rest of the month? I’d like to revisit his collection of essays about writing (My Trade is Mystery), and spend time with some more of his poems, like this one:

Western Edge/ Carl Phillips

I need you  
the way astonishment,  
which is really just  

the disruption of routine, 
requires routine.  
Isn’t there 

a shock, though—  
a thrill—  
to having done 

what we had to? 
Unequally, but 
in earnest, we love 

as we can,  
he used to mumble,  
not so much his 

mouth moving,  
more the words  
themselves sort of  

staggering around lost  
inside it . . . Now 
show me  

exactly what 
you think being brave 

What is it to be brave? Often, I bristle at anyone describing my ways of adapting to losing my vision as being brave. Resourceful, resilient, creative sure, but brave?

What is it to be brave? For the past few months, Scott and I have been watching Escape to the Chateau. One of the main “characters”/actual people, Angel/Angela, calls the gloves she wears whenever she cleans or sorts through very old things, her “brave gloves.” While sorting through stuff in the 150 year old attic — I’m glad I’m wearing my brave gloves today!

What is it to be brave? Why does Alexi Pappas title her memoir about running and training and depression, Bravey? What is a bravey?

What is it to be brave, and how is that connected to courage — and what type of courage? I’d like to reread a paper I wrote way back in 2001 or 2002 about redefining courage.


Almost done with masking in the house! I’m feeling mostly normal; just a little too much crap in my trap (snot). Scott has lost a lot of his sense of smell and taste, but I haven’t/didn’t.


bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis
65 degrees

Biked with Scott over to lake nokomis for open swim. I knew it would not be crowded and that I wouldn’t have any problems avoiding people. I was right. A (mostly) easy bike ride. I could see the trail, didn’t have to make any dangerous passes. On the way back, my left knee started hurting again. I’m sure it’s related to the strange knot/ball I have on the inside of kneecap and how I have difficult stretching to touch my toes with my left leg bent.

swim: 1 loop
lake nokomis open swim
68 degrees

Windy. The water was very active — not rough and choppy, just full of swells. Difficult to breathe to my left. I thought about doing a second loop — I was intending to — but my calf had a little twinge and my legs felt weak, so I decided not to risk getting a leg cramp in the middle of the lake — no thanks! — and stopped at one loop. I’ll swim again on Sunday and do 2 or 3 or more loops then. What do I remember from the swim?

10 Things

  1. the taut rope stretching at a diagonal from the lime green buoy to below the water — swimming a tight turn around the buoy and swimming just above it
  2. the fuzzy flash of the overturned safety boat near the little beach
  3. the view above: water trees sky a few random flashes
  4. the view below: emptiness
  5. a flicker of pink ahead of me — someone’s cap
  6. a slash of orange to the side, a few splashes — another swimmer wearing an orange safety buoy
  7. being gently rocked by the waves
  8. feeling heavy, my hips and legs not wanting to float
  9. 2 swimmers standing near shore, taking a break between loops, taking about the course
  10. a tiny twinge in my calf — not a sharp pain, but a gentle reminder: maybe you should only do 1 loop today…remember what happened that time you did too much and your leg knotted up?

walk: 45 minutes
around lake nokomis
70 degrees

After my swim, we had a small lunch at the new restaurant at the lake, Painted Turtle. Excellent. Then we took a walk around the lake, stopping to sit at a bench to watch the birds, the water, the boats. We took the dirt trail under the bridge and over to the other side of lake. Here it feels more like a nature trail, with giant dandelions, excessive amounts of lily pads, and even more birds. Favorite sight: a medium-sized dog proudly carrying a huge stick in their mouth.


Felt a little snotty this morning — not stuffed up, just needing to blow my nose a lot. A little drained. Otherwise, fine. Managed to keep a big distance between myself and anyone else. Plenty of room in the water to avoid others, lots of empty grass right next to the trail when we were walking.

july 6/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
65 degrees

A cool morning. Great for running! Ran a little longer than yesterday. Started on Edmund but crossed over to the river road trail at 42nd. Felt good on the way there, a little tired on the way back.

Encountered walkers with dogs, a roller skier, some bikers, a noisy truck, a few other runners. Thought I heard a little voice at the falls say, she can’t hear me! Imagined she was talking about me. Wondered what she might have said, then imagined responding playfully, yes I can! A few minutes later, walking up the hill, I watched that little girl and at least one adult almost get stuck, trying to pedal a heavy surrey up the steepest part. I considered stopping to give them a push, but I thought it would be better to keep my distance. Gave a woman directions to the pool at Wabun. Avoided tree roots, wiped the sweat from my face, wasn’t able to see the river — too far away.

Listened to cars passing by and the strange rumble, buzz, whirr of a giant machine running south. Listened to “Camelot” heading north again.


Feeling mostly okay, just a lingering cold — not stuffed up, but needing to blow my nose a lot. Ready to be done wearing a mask in the house. Just a few more days! Could I possibly still be contagious?

Today is Scott and my 27th wedding anniversary. Because we’re still both sick, I don’t think we’ll be doing anything fun. Bummer. Oh well, at least we can quarantine together.

july 5/RUN

3.1 miles
turkey hollow
68 degrees

A beautiful morning! Birds, sun, breeze! Ran twice as much today as I did yesterday. By the end, my legs felt like rubber, but my breathing was okay and I didn’t feel light-headed. I’m continuing to avoid people by running in the dirt trail between edmund and the river road.

10 Things Heard

  1. cardinals
  2. black-capped chickadees
  3. crows
  4. blue-jays
  5. robins
  6. kids playing at minnehaha academy — laughing, yelling, clapping
  7. blasting from a radio: “HandClap” from Fitz and the Tantrums
  8. the wind in the trees making the leaves shimmer
  9. construction sounds: rumbling, scraping, buzzing, roaring
  10. [put in “Camelot” for the last mile]: “I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight,” “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood,” and “Camelot”


Physically, I’m almost feeling normal. Mentally, I’m tired of this strange isolation and nowhere-to-go-ness.

Duh: So, even though he tested at least 4 times and got a negative result each time, Scott has COVID. Last night’s 5th test was positive. We both should have realized that, with his symptoms and contact with me, he had to have it, but my very first test was instantly positive so we assumed that if he had it, his would be too. He wasn’t quarantining, so we’re hoping the kids won’t be getting it next.

In related drama: FWA has his driver’s license behind-the-wheel test in Austin today. For a few dark moments last night, we thought he might have to cancel it, which could mean waiting months for another testing time. update: He passed!

current mood: worried (about an ailing parent and unmotivated (or differently? motivated) kids, being an irritating Mom) + impatient (can this quarantine be over, please, I want to go back to open swim)

Found this poem this morning. Reading this first verse, I already liked it, but when I read the “about this poem” section, I fell in love with it.

Oak Skin/ Kris Ringman

Every wood I’ve stepped into
has a watchful crone, a witch whose skin
resembles the bark of an ancient oak. 

She spins her wool by moonlight,
she threads her fingers through the moss,
and knows exactly which mushrooms to pick. 

I don’t need my hearing to feel the changes
in the wind when she slips out of the gaps
between the rocks and the trees, her voice 

I feel in the roots I step on, in the stones
I try to avoid with my bare feet that always
manage to bruise me, test the calluses I’ve grown 

with each stride I’ve taken through these trees.
I’ve sung to her beneath the arms of the beeches
reaching towards the birches, though she never 

listens to me. I imagine she laughs at the tune
I cannot keep, before moving on, gathering weeds
by the stars, mixing potions to use on people 

like me, who would walk into her arms gladly,
wishing she were an old aunt I could visit to learn
everything about this world she keeps to herself.

About this Poem

“As I slowly lost my hearing from the age of six until twenty-one, I spent more and more time in the woods and wild places where my deafness has never mattered. This poem is a homage to those places that I am still enthralled with and the never-ending magic of the forest I wish I could learn and share with other humans.”
—Kris Ringman

Yes! I go to the gorge/the river/the lake because my vision loss doesn’t matter there. I’m not constantly reminded of its loss or my limitations. On the trails I know so well, I can see or, when I can’t, I don’t need to.

july 4/RUN

Today, on COVID DAY 6, I went for a short run!

1.3 miles
70 degrees

Since I’ve been feeling better and restless, I decided to try a little running this morning. The goal was a mile, but I ended up doing a little extra. I was worried that I might have trouble breathing, but I didn’t. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t too hard either.

10 Things (5 present, 5 absent)

  1. At the end of my block, a bird shrieking non-stop, like an alarm. It kept circling above me and shrieking, almost like it was calling out, away! away! away! For a few seconds I wondered if it was going to swoop down and attack me
  2. plastic pipes lining the sidewalk — part of the sewer project they’re doing all summer. Each pipe connected to the next with black cable-ties
  3. the hollow sound of my foot stepping on the wooden platforms placed over the pipes
  4. my favorite halloween house, still for sale
  5. one runner slowly approaching to my left, breathing heavily. He was very slow. I crossed over to the other side of the road, hoping that would make it less irritating (nope). I slowed way down, almost walking, so he could finally pass
  6. no bikers
  7. no rowers
  8. no roller skiers
  9. no river (too far to see it + forgot to even glance across the road in its direction)
  10. entire stretches of the route lost, forgotten — no memory of running past cooper field or the half-finished house that was abandoned for years then finished and now for sale for $800,000

COVID update

Feeling much better. A little stuffed up, but otherwise fine. It’s strange to feel almost normal but still have to mask and quarantine. Tedious. Disruptive. I wonder when I’ll stop testing positive?

2 things to remember


Found this list of 5 nature memoirs to check: The Best Nature Memoirs. When I’m done with Sharpe’s Ordinary Notes, I’d like to return to one book on the list — Savoy’s Traces, which I’ve tried to read a few times already. It’s on the Libby app.


A note from Christina Sharpe’s amazing book, Ordinary Notes, about the need for white people to shift from guilt to grief, complicity to relation, detachment to entanglement:

a screen shot of Christina Sharpe's Note 46

july 3/COVID DAY 5

technically it should be day 4 because the first day of symptoms is day 0, but it makes me more hopeful to imagine today as day 5.

Woke up feeling closer to almost not sick. No fever, only a little congestion, not too achy. As I write this, it’s 5:00 pm and I’ve spent much of the day outside in my red chair under the shade of the crab apple tree. It’s been 92 degrees all day. So hot! Still better than being cooped up inside. I finished listening to The Covenant of Water — loved it — and am continuing my reading of Christina Sharpe’s Ordinary Notes — wow!

An interesting twist: Scott does not have COVID — he’s taken 3 or 4 tests in the past few days — but he’s sick. Had the chills last night, a headache, was stuffed up. What? Very strange and unfortunate. If he had COVID we could quarantine together.

I decided to take another COVID test today, hoping that somehow it might have already passed totally through my system. Nope. Still got it.

This morning after finishing my coffee, I re-memorized Ed Bok Lee’s “Halos.” Such a great poem about vision loss!

Tonight, we set up a tv outside in the backyard and watched stage 3 of the tour together while we ate dinner. Our first dinner together since Thursday night.

current mood: it’s only day five!?; grateful that it didn’t settle in my chest; more restlessness — I told Scott that this might be the longest I’ve gone without a substantial walk/exercise in a decade.

july 2/COVID DAY 4

Woke up restless. No more fever, but everything seems fuzzy — that’s probably just my vision. A slight sore throat, a little stuffed up.

Had a little more energy than yesterday so I took Delia on a short 10 minute walk; gathered clothes, brought them down to the basement and started the laundry; made myself some scrambled eggs; closed all the windows and turned on the air. Too much. Suddenly it became harder to breathe. I sat in my chair and focused on deep breaths for several minutes. My fingers and toes felt tingly — anxiety, or not enough oxygen? No fun.

In the past, when I’ve had colds, I’ve always run through them. Usually I feel better when I’m running. Not this time. I think I’ll just sit on the couch in my room or outside on my red chair for the rest of the day.

So far, COVID is manageable, but it’s a drag (or a d-r-a-g drag, which I started saying a few years ago and now can’t stop).

Current moods: acceptance, a willingness to endure and get through
Activities: watching Le Tour, finishing up the audiobook, The Covenant of Water, sleeping

july 1/COVID DAY 3

For future Sara, I’m documenting my mostly mundane COVID experience.

day one, my birthday: I woke up feeling agitated — unsettled, anxious, uncomfortable. I went for a 2 mile run with Scott without any problems. A few hours later, my throat started to hurt a little, which was concerning and added to my agitation. I swam three loops (2 miles) without any problems at the lake for open swim. Finally checked my temperature: 99.5. Slept on the couch.

day two, june 30: Slept okay. Woke up, got coffee, went back to sleep for several more hours. Took a COVID test mid-morning. I already knew the answer: positive. Slept the entire day, only waking up to take another dose of NYQUIL. Felt feverish, whoozy, not wanting to do anything but sleep, which I did. Low fever (99-100) all day. Ate a little food, drank some water.

day three, today: Woke up with a raw throat. Hurts to swallow, a feeling I despise. Felt less feverish, a little more like myself. Still tired, sleeping off and on, but also restless — thought about walking on the treadmill for a little while to get my restless body moving but didn’t. Sat outside in my red chair twice to get some fresh air and vitamin D. Mid-afternoon, my throat only hurts slightly. Still have a 99+ fever.

It’s surprising to everyone in the house that I’m the one that got COVID. Me too. In the 2-5 day window of infection, I was only in 3 stores and one other public building. Scott was in these buildings too. Why doesn’t he have it? One theory: he didn’t get it, but carried and spread it to me when he played for the musical last Saturday.

One other thing to note: I’m quarantining in our bedroom, only leaving to go to the bathroom, or out in the backyard. When I need something, I text Scott or one of the kids and they leave it outside my door. I mostly communicate with them by text or through masks and closed doors. I’m starting to feel isolated and it’s only day two of my quarantine. Also, I can see how the need to rely on others to get you everything will start to become a drag soon.