feb 26/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
run: 2.3 miles
basement
outside: 40 degrees (wind: 30 mph gusts)

Warmish but windy. I think I’ll stay inside. Trying to unclench my jaw this morning; too much stress over the abrupt total re-opening of the high school with very little plan or convincing argument for how this is safe and good for most of the teachers and students. It took about 20 minutes on the bike to relax. Watching a Dickinson episode helped. In this one, “Fame is a fickle food,” Emily is not a recluse, like she was in the last episode. (And, her vision is completely fine now. No more discussion of that traumatic event, I guess). She wants to win (and does) the baking contest at the county fair and has no problem leaving her room to attend the crowded fair, or to walk through town with a newspaper editor the next day. I especially enjoyed the goofy moments when Emily and her siblings got excited about going to the county fair.

After I finished biking, I started listening to another podcast with Ross Gay about his work. This one is with Parker Palmer (I recall reading one of his books for my pedagogy class) and Carrie Newcomer. I chose it because I thought they might talk more about Gay’s work in relation to religion/spirituality, something which was completely absent in other interviews I heard with him. So far, they haven’t, but I’m enjoying their discussion about the importance of practice. Gay mentions how he partly wrote The Book of Delights because he deeply needed practice in studying delight, and attending to what he loved. Yes! This made me think (and not for the first or second time) about how much of what I’ve been doing is practicing/developing practices around attending to what I love (and need). A few minutes later Parker Palmer mentioned how important being able to experience delight is for resisting those things (systems, structures, leaders) that strip away our delight in order to weaken/demoralize/depress us. This made me think of Aimee Nezhukumatathil and her suggestion, “Always let the wonder win,” which has become a constant goal for me–to strive for remembering and noticing the wonder, even in the midst of anxiety and anger and sadness and uncertainty over all of the terrible shit happening in the U.S.

My morning routine lately has been to get up, feed the dog, make some coffee, check Facebook, and then poets.org for the poem of the day. Today’s poem was especially wonderful.

Skin Tight/ Ishmael Reed – 1938-

The internal organs were growling
According to them
They did all of the work while
Skin got all of the attention
He’s an organ just like us
They groused
Even the heart, which, a
Century ago, was the Queen
Of metaphors, but now
Was reduced to the greetings
Cards section of CVS,
Chimed in

They decided to call skin
On the carpet.
Skin arrived from Cannes
Where he’d been the subject
Of much fuss as actresses
Fed him luxurious skin
Food prepared by Max Factor
Estée Lauder, L’Oreal,
And Chanel
They
Caressed him daily
Sometimes for hours before
They made the red carpet
Shine

He was petted
And preened

Others
Pleaded with him
To erase wrinkles to
Make them look younger
To tighten their chins

Skin tried to appease the
Critics, greeting them with
His familiar “give me some skin”
But his gesture went unheeded

Brain did all the talking
Brain said, “Here’s the skinny
Why do you get
All of the press
Your color
Your texture discussed
Endlessly
Nicole Kidman never

Did an ad about us

Cole Porter never
Wrote a song about us
Nor were we mentioned
In a Thornton Wilder novel
You’ve given us no
Skin in the game”

“What about the nasty
Things they say about
Me,” skin replied
“What about skin deep
For superficiality
Or
Skin trade
To denote something
Unsavory

How would you
Like acne rashes
Eczema

Boils
Pellagra
Leprosy
And
Conditions
That astonish
Even dermatologists

I wear my blemishes
In public while you guys
Hide yours”

“Without me and heart
You’d be nothing,” the brain said
“That’s not true,” protested
The liver, “without me he’d
Be nothing”
“No,” the kidney said
“It’s me who keeps the
Body functioning”
The bladder and
The kidney began
To quarrel with
Gallbladder
The lung twins spoke
Up
“Without us
He couldn’t breathe”
Even the esophagus
And the thyroid
And the pancreas
Joined the outbreak
“What about us?”

The eyes said
“Without eyes you
Can’t see”

Their squabble distracted
Them
When they looked
Up from their dust up
Skin’s
Helicopter was up
He was scheduled to
Address a convention of
Plastic surgeons at
The Beverly Hills
Hotel
Escaping by the skin
Of his teeth
His opponents gave
Chase
But above the roar
Of the chopper
They heard him say
“Don’t worry fellas
I got you covered”

a moment of sound: dripping and blowing

feb 26, 2021

feb 25/RUN

5K
edmund loop, starting north
31 degrees
5% super-slick ice-patches

A great morning for a run! Sunny and not too windy. So many birds–I couldn’t see them; just heard them clicking and chirping and calling. The sidewalks and roads were almost completely clear except for a few patches of super slick ice. The ice is always slickest when the temperature is right on the edge of freezing and the ice has almost melted. I ran over at least one puddle that was water underneath with a thin layer of crispy ice on top. A few years ago, I recall describing this type of ice as creme brûlée. Very fun to step on, as long as you’re going fast enough to not get your foot wet in the water below, which I was.

A little over a mile into the run, I stopped at the river to record a moment of sound. It’s mostly cars driving by and some wind, but I can hear some birds and a person’s footsteps as they walk north on the trail. Oh–and the loud hum of the city, which almost sounds like static.

feb 25, 2021

Running on Edmund, I looked over at the river near 42nd and noticed a bright reflection on the other side, over in St. Paul. Was it a rooftop? A car? Someone holding up a mirror? Not sure, but it was mesmerizing. Heard some kids playing at Dowling Elementary. Elementary schools are in-person full time now. They’re planning to open up the high schools full time after spring break, in April. One kid, the freshman, wants to stay online; the other, a senior, wants to go back. I don’t see how it’s going to work. The high school is old and has very few windows. It’s crowded, with narrow halls. How can this be safe? They won’t be doing hybrid learning, but full, 5 days a week. Ugh.

When I reached 42nd, I stopped to put in my headphones and listen to a playlist as I ran north on edmund. Smelled the fire at the same spot on Edmund that I always do, the one which always makes me wonder whether it’s coming from the gorge below, or someone’s fireplace. A few weeks ago I decided that the smoke was coming from the gorge, but today I changed my mind. I think it’s coming from a house. Encountered a few runners and walkers, no bikers or cross-country skiers or sledders.

feb 24/BIKERUN

bike: 15 minutes
run: 1.45 miles
basement
outside: 38 degrees

Very wet and sloppy outside. Went for a walk with Delia and my daughter and decided I’d rather run inside today. Finished the Dickinson episode I started yesterday, the one that briefly mentions her vision and features the poem, “Before I got my eye put out.” I recognize that it’s my own bias, but I wish there would have been more about her vision and how the loss of it affected her poetry. From what I’ve read–in a few articles and the book, These Fevered Days by Martha Ackmann, her vision loss was deeply disturbing, but in the show, she doesn’t care that much. I can’t remember the exact line, but when her father tells her not to write poetry because it will be bad for her eyes, her response is “I don’t need to see to write; I just need my soul!” I think this is the first episode of the second season and things are getting darker. War is coming and Emily is becoming much more of a recluse.

After I biked, I ran with a playlist. Didn’t think about much, but had fun running a little faster to Foo Fighter’s “Pretender.”

a moment of sound: melting!

feb 24, 2021

feb 23/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
run: 3.25 miles
basement
outside: 38 degrees

Warm enough outside, but wet, and I ran outside Sunday and Monday. And I needed to take a break and bike some today. Watched the next episode of Dickinson, which featured one of my favorite poems:

Before I got my eye put out–
I liked as well to see
As other creatures, that have eyes–
And know no other way–

And it deals with her temporary vision loss when she was in her mid 30s in 1863 and 1864. I wonder how they’ll end this episode? I’ll find out next time. In this season, she’s becoming much more of a recluse, barely leaving her room.

After the bike, I ran and listened to my playlist. I don’t remember what I thought about, except: 1. how many songs do I need to listen to before I check the time?, 2. raising my head, working on my posture, 3. lifting my right hip, 4. is all this running good for me, or will it give me arthritis and weaken me so much when I’m almost 80 that I sometimes struggle to move (which is what is happening to my dad right now)?, 4. who is that walking upstairs, making such loud thumping noises? That’s all I remember–oh, and looking at the lightbulb, reflected in the far window, which is dark because it’s under the deck, and no longer thinking it looked like a moon with clouds above Lake Superior (which is what I thought it looked like last February).

Between biking and running, I managed to not go upstairs to pee. One step closer to breaking that habit (or at least making sure it doesn’t fully form). It’s pretty mundane, but since my work is on ethics and ways of breaking and re-making habits (undisciplining), I’m always interested in our daily practices and how they become solidified into necessary and automatic actions. Often, we don’t notice them forming until it becomes very difficult to change them.

Yesterday, I listened to some amazing podcasts. First, I finished up the Ross Gay interview on Between the Covers. After I finish writing this entry, I’m planning to transcribe parts of it because they haven’t posted the transcript yet. Then, I listened to another interview with Ross Gay on Franny Choi’s and Danez Smith’s amazing podcast, VS. And, finally, I listened to their interview with Ada Limón.

I really appreciate what Limón says about what poetry does for us–and who it does it for:

I do feel like there’s a lot of “the arts will save us.” You know, there’s a part of me that really believes that, right? I mean, I believe that poetry can heal us and help us. But, I mean, if I’m very honest, I think they can only do that for the poet. (LAUGHS) And then they may, if we’re lucky, help someone else or move someone else or inspire someone else or get them out of a rut. But I think it begins with like, I write my own poems to save myself. You know, then if, in, you know, some series, lucky series of events, a poem becomes larger than me and reaches someone else, that’s, that’s beautiful. But I don’t always know that that’s gonna happen, right? I have to start by how is this poem recommitting me to the world?

VS Podcast Interview

Yes! How is this poem recommitting me to the world? And, I write to save myself.

a moment of sound

Today’s sound is water. Dripping water, whooshing water. Water slowly, almost, but not quite, silently absorbing into the ground.

feb 23, 2021

feb 22/RUN

3.2 miles
edmund, heading south/river road trail, heading north
34 degrees
sidewalks: 80% snow-covered/ roads: 10%

Today it feels like spring! It’s too bright, but I’ll take the warm sun. Lots of birds and puddles. Was able to run on the river road trail on the way back north. Encountered 3 or 4 groups of people, but we all kept as much distance as we could. Saw the river. No cracks in the surface yet. Noticed someone walking below on the Winchell Trail. The roads were full of big puddles wile the sidewalks were almost all covered in uneven mushy snow. I wonder how sore my legs will be later today? Smelled some smoke in the same spot I always smell it–on Edmund. Heard a woodpecker. I don’t remember thinking about anything, except, occasionally: this is not easy, running over this uneven snow. Anything else? No fat tires or cross country skiers or black capped chickadees or daily walkers or packs of runners or music blasting from someone’s radio or laughing kids on the playground or overheard conversations. No chainsaws or trucks backing up or honking geese. Oh–I did encounter a group of 4 walkers talking over the whole road, but I didn’t care, because I was on the sidewalk. For most of the run, I listened to the neighborhood. For the last 1/2 mile, a playlist.

a moment of sound

feb 22, 2021

Standing in the backyard right after shoveling the deck and the sidewalks in back and front. Birds, car horns, a steady drip of melting snow.

feb 21/RUN

2.65 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, north/1 loop around Howe
27 degrees
50% sloppy snow-covered

Even though I was concerned that there might be too many people outside, I decided to go for a run. The first mile wasn’t too bad but when I got to Edmund there were more people. Distracted, I forgot to look for the river when I reached the top of the Edmund hill. Noticed a family sledding and several dogs with their humans. When I reached 37th, I stopped to record my moment of sound.

a moment of sound

Listen to those birds! Sounds like spring to me. So glad I went outside.

feb 21, 2021

After that, I turned on a playlist and tried not to slip on the mushy, uneven snow. Yuck! Then I ran around Howe school. Student (3rd-5th graders) are returning tomorrow.

The other day, I found this print, which would be really cool to get for under the glass on my desk, but I’m not sure I want to spend $30 on it.

Found this poem in a wonderful twitter thread about “how to” poems:

Instructions for Opening a Door/ Adriana Cloud

To open a door, you must want to leave.
A here, a there. You must want.
Stuff pink hyacinths in the dictionary
between “lie” and “lightning,”
the wet stem of spring curling the pages
until it is not a flower
but just the word for it. We all die
but the hope is to die of living.
Slam it hard enough
to make the sidewalk hum
the way your blood hummed
the first time you walked into the sea.
A door is just a question you have to ask
even when you are scared of the answer.
In San Sebastián they pour the txakoli
from high up until it foams in the glass.
Sea, grapes, the word for longing.
Use both hands and don’t look back.

Love the lines: “To open a door, you must want to leave./ A here, a there, You must want.” and “A door is just a question you have to ask/ even when you are scared of the answer.”

feb 19/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
run: 2.25 miles
basement
outside: 15 degrees

I started my bike by listening to Dr. Michael Osterholm’s podcast on COVID-19–he’s the infectious diseases expert/director at the University of Minnesota. He often gives worst case scenarios but his latest assessment tracks with another expert I check in with on twitter: Bob Wachter, the chair of the department of medicine at UCSF, who is a little more optimistic generally. Today’s episode of his podcast is titled Hurricane Warning and it’s about the likely category five hurricane of covid destruction that the B.1.1.7 variant (also known as the UK variant) could bring in the next month if we open up and let down our guard. While I don’t like hearing this news, I appreciate the reminder that my concerns about things opening up, including schools, are not unfounded. I’ve heard Osterholm say this several times: “Americans like to pump the brakes after the car is wrapped around the tree.” Meaning, we’re reckless and then try to be cautious after it’s too late. Looks like that’s what’s happening now. Numbers are down, people are tired of sheltering, so it’s time to open back up. This attitude makes me sad and concerned about our (U.S., the world) ability to make hard choices for our survival–not just with COVID but with the climate crisis. Most of the time I am an optimist, able to see past the bad to the good (in people, in situations), but the selfish, short-sighted way that many (at least those with the most power) have responded to crisis is chipping away at that optimism. Slowly, I’m letting the pessimistic “people suck” attitude creep in. I need to focus more on delight and people who are delighted and delightful.

Speaking of which, after biking I listened to a podcast with Ross “Book of Delights” Gay and his new book-length poem, Be Holding. Well, first I tried listening to my audio book Wintering but it was an extra dark chapter about insomnia that was bumming me out too much so I turned it off. Ross Gay is wonderful and his ideas about beholding as attending and looking with love, which reminded me of Maria Lugones’ idea of loving (as opposed to arrogant) perception, are very inspiring and help me restore my optimism. I look forward to when the transcript of the interview comes out–hopefully soon. In the part I listened to today, they were talking about looking and vision. The phrase “eyes of poetry” was used. It made me think about my relationship to vision and what I’m trying to do with my work (and my practices, and my strategies for coping with vision loss). Two things I’m doing:

First, a critical intervention in the privileging of vision/sight—an exploration of other ways of attending and other language for that attention. Not just seeing but listening and feeling. What might be some aural-centric words to counter vision, insight, focus? Thinking about this reminded me of a poem I memorized this summer: And Swept All Visible Signs Swept Away/ Carl Phillips

Easy enough, to say it’s dark now.
But what is the willow doing in the darkness?
I say it wants less for company than for compassion,

which can come from afar and faceless. What’s a face, to a willow?
If a willow had a face, it would be a song. I think.
I am stirred, I’m stir-able, I’m a wind-stirred thing.

Here, I’m thinking about listening and the expression of self through song, as opposed to through face and vision. The “visible signs” have been swept away by the wind, yet compassion and recognition (to beholden) are still possible.

Second, an expansion of what vision/seeing is—how do we see, what does it mean to see? what are others ways of seeing are possible? what are the different ways I do/can use my vision (e.g. peripheral instead of central)? This second project is inspired by Georgina Kleege’s book Sight Unseen and the descriptions of her own ways of seeing–even though she is legally blind, she likes to go to movies and art museums. She can still watch the movies and see the paintings, just in different ways.

So, the other thing I’m doing today (besides worrying about variant strains and high schools opening too soon, or loving looks and Ross Gay) is collecting definitions, expressions, descriptions of cure/curing as a method for preserving food. In my mood ring poem, I want to introduce this language subtly throughout the poem in order to create more impact with the final lines–which I’m thinking might be part of the inner blind ring. So much fun!

  • canned
  • jarred
  • jammed, jam-packed
  • pickled
  • expired, expiration date
  • spoiled
  • shelf-life, stored
  • shelved, put on the shelf
  • decay
  • needed in times of scarcity
  • embalm
  • preserve body for medical experiments
  • dried out, old
  • hardened, tough exterior, leathered, weathered
  • drawing moisture out
  • airtight, removing oxygen, sealing out air
  • inside, packed, put away

2 Habits formed, one bad, one good

Currently I am very aware of the forming of two habits through repeated practices. The first habit, which I see as good, is my daily moment of sound. I have recorded enough of them that it is a routine practice for me to step outside, no matter how cold, and listen for a moment. The second habit, which I see as mostly bad, is my need to pee every time I am done with biking inside and before I start running. I can feel the practice become entrenched, something I have to do every time. I know I could have tried harder to stop it, but instead I’ve been observing how it has been happening. Is it too late now to stop? I hope not, but I’m not too concerned. It’s fascinating to witness it forming. I just remembered how I had this same habit in high school during swim practice–I always had to pee after warm-up and before the main set.

a moment of sound

Today’s moment of sound happened right after I took the recycling out–around 7:30 in the morning. Birds!

feb 19, 2021

feb 18/RUN

3 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, north/2 loops around Howe
12 degrees/ feels like 12
100% snow-covered

Now this weather is more like it! I don’t mind 12 degrees at all. No part of me felt cold. No frozen fingers; by the 1/2 mile mark, they were warm and I had to take off my second pair of gloves (the hot pink ones with white stripes). Heard lots of birds. Chickadees, robins, cardinals, crows. I think I heard at least one woodpecker.

The road and the sidewalks were covered with about an inch of snow. Where people had shoveled, the path was firm and easy. Where they had not, it was loose and uneven and slippery–not making me slip, but making my legs work harder to lift my feet off of the ground. I probably should have worn my yaktrax but if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to hear the delightful 2 part creak of my feet striking the snow then lifting off of it. I love those sounds. Still, those sounds could only do so much to counter the difficulty of trudging through uneven snow that slips and shifts, providing no purchase. Was planning to run all the way to 42nd but Edmund had too many slippery, slushy ruts. So I turned early and headed for Howe Elementary. Around the school, the sidewalk was shoveled and nice to run on. So nice, I ran around the school twice.

Heard some adults–teachers? staff?–talking outside of the main entrance to Howe. 3rd-5th graders head back on Monday. Governor Walz announced yesterday that middle and high schools will be opening soon too–probably (hopefully not until) after spring break in mid-April. So sudden. Is it safe? I doubt it; I think people are just too tired of it all and can’t isolate anymore. I worry about the next few months–with so many variants, are we opening too soon? Yes, I think.

a moment of sound

When I came downstairs this morning with Delia the dog for our daily routine–she wakes me up, I feed her, then she goes outside to poop, I heard a black-capped chickadee calling out. Then a faint answer. I decided to make this my moment of sound. At the end, you can hear Delia rush in, then make her favorite sound (the one that almost always unsettles me): a vigorous shaking of her head.

feb 18, 2021

Yesterday, when I told Scott that the Dickinson episode I watched was about the total eclipse, he asked, “Was there an eclipse they could see in Amherst in the 1800s?” After explaining to him that some of what happens in the show is imagined, but most of it is based on some evidence, even if they play fast and loose with when things happened, I looked it up. No eclipse at the time in which the show is set–the 1850s, but Brain Pickings, with the help of data from NASA(!), determined one total eclipse did happen while Emily was alive, on September 29, 1875. Emily would have been a few months shy of 45. This viewing may have prompted this eclipse poem, which she included in a letter to her mentor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson:

It sounded as if the streets were running —
And then — the streets stood still —
Eclipse was all we could see at the Window
And Awe — was all we could feel.

By and by — the boldest stole out of his Covert
To see if Time was there —
Nature was in her Opal Apron —
Mixing fresher Air.

Source

Another interesting thing this quick research unearthed: Emily Dickinson’s first posthumous editor, the one that removed all of Emily’s dashes–wrote a book about eclipses, The Total Eclipse of the Sun. And this book was published the same year as she published the first volume of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. And, she was the long-time lover of Emily’s older brother Austin.

feb 17/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
run: 2.25 miles
outside: 9 degrees/ feels like -1

Started the next episode of Dickinson. It’s about death, the eclipse and Emily’s growing affection for her father’s law clerk who is definitely going to die (looked up ED on wikipedia and yep, he dies of tuberculosis). I know a bit of her biography, but I hadn’t remember this guy. According to wikipedia he was a mentor but not likely a love interest. Oh and almost forgot to mention: in the last episode Louisa May Alcott comes over for Christmas dinner; she’s visiting another family and they bring her along to the dinner. The show depicts her as a badass hustler whose primary motivation for writing seems to be money and independence. And, she’s a runner! When she finds out Emily’s a writer, she invites her out for a run before dinner. I wondered if this were true, so I googled it. Yes, Alcott was a runner! Nice. Lousia and Emily ran through the fields holding up their skirts.

About 15 minutes into the episode, I got an alert that I needed to log back into my account to keep watching. Decided to stop and move onto running. Before I ran, I listened to myself reciting my latest poem. Another mood ring: incurable. Then, as I ran, I listened to a little more of Wintering and a playlist.

My mood ring poem, Incurable, is about how my eye disease does not have a cure and how I’m okay with that and it’s a response to my frustration with the well-meaning suggestions by others to go to more doctors and keep searching for a cure. My frustration is mostly irritation and annoyance: Both doctors I have talked to and all of the research I have done clearly states that there is currently no cure for cone dystrophy. Subjecting myself to more tests is exhausting and expensive without decent insurance. And, even if there were a cure it would be experimental and prohibitively expensive. Knowing myself and what I need (and what I can afford), this is not a good idea. Yet, when people refuse to believe me when I say there isn’t a cure and encourage me to keep looking, it plants the smallest seed of doubt–am I giving up? Not trying hard enough? I am not and I didn’t ask for advice. Instead of getting angry, I am writing this poem. Here’s my current draft of the main poem:

No cure. That firm sentence brings relief not despair. No terrible trips to countless doctors. No invasive treatments. No experimental implants. No big needles injected into eye balls. No difficult discussions about how much “good” vision is worth. No energy squandered. Everything devoted to adapting experimenting exploring new forms of delight. Someday there may be a way to repopulate the vacant city of my macula. But not now. Acceptance is not weakness but strength. Strength is not a hardening but a softening. And diminished vision is not a death sentence but a door into other worlds. Put back that sugar and salt. Pack away the preservatives. I do not need to be cured.

A few days ago, after the latest encounter with well-intention nudges from people who love me very much, I decided to free-write about my mood. I wrote down: “No cure. Cured, curing. Cured like bacon.” Yes! I started thinking about the different meanings of cure–to heal + preserve meat, fruit, vegetables + embalming/preserving the body. The word incurable came to me. Then I started thinking of fitting phrases, like “incurable optimist” and “incurable romantic.” And definitions: stubborn, irredeemable, incorrigible. And a passage I read in Georgina Kleege’s Sight Unseen about sighted people’s fear of blindess/vision loss:

The belief that human experience, both physical and mental, is essentially visual, and that any other type of experience is necessarily second rate, leads to the conclusion that not to see is not to experience, not to live, not to be. At best, the sighted imagine blindness as a state between life and death, an existence encased in darkness, an invisible coffin (30).

Incurable is my current mood. While I ran, I came up with an additional line (I do not need to be cured) that really helps the poem. This delighted me and made me happy to be able to write and to run and to use these activities to work through difficult moods.

a moment of sound

Went out into the backyard for my moment of sound. It’s snowing light fluffy flakes. Our crabapple tree is loaded with apples and birds–at least a dozen, at one point. I guess they’re too busy eating to sing. Silently, they feast on the fruit. Looked it up and I’m pretty sure they are robins. Also read that cedar waxwings and cardinals like to feast on crabapples in the winter. Notable sounds: crunching snow, a barking dog, a clanging fence, softly falling snow.

feb 17, 2021

feb 16/BIKERUN

bike: 32 minutes
run: 3.25 miles
basement
outside: 5 degrees/ feels like 5

Stayed on the bike to watch an entire episode of Dickinson. At one point, during their Christmas Eve celebration, Sue starts singing “In the Bleak Midwinter” and I was struck by the lyrics. Looked it up and it was originally a poem by Christina Rossetti. Gustav “the planets” Holst set it to music. Nice. Not sure I have heard this before. Looked it up on spotify and most of the versions were either instrumental or big choirs. So many versions; I guess because it’s a traditional Christmas song. I don’t really care for the whole poem but I love the first stanza. What a great description of midwinter:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Speaking of descriptions of winter, Katherine May provides some excellent ones in the chapter I listened to as I ran (November). If I had the written version, I could look them up. But listening to it while I was running made it hard to hang onto the words. I also liked May’s discussion of Halloween and rituals around death. One thing I remember her saying that struck me was wanting to reread a ghost story that was eerie and not horrific. I like that distinction and thinking about ghost stories that are mysterious, strange, uneasy (eerie) instead of terrifying, shocking, dreadful (horror). As I write this, I am remembering a few of her descriptions of winter: each blade of grass separated and visible with frost; the clear, sharp edges of the leaves. This prompted by mind to wander. I thought about how I can’t ever see that amount of detail. Everything is always fuzzy, smudged, in italics. Winter branches are not sharp and hard and distinct, but fuzzy and soft, gently blending with the sky, especially at dusk. After that, my mind kept wandering and I had an idea, which I spoke into my phone:

notes while running, 16 feb 2021

The idea: check my blind spot again against the wall and retrace it. Assuming that it had changed, use this new shape for a new set of mood ring poems. I could keep doing this until the blind ring becomes a spot–whenever that is.

a moment of sound

A few hours after my run, I took Delia out for a walk on this warmer (9 degrees) day. I guess it felt a little warmer, but it was still very cold on my face.

feb 16, 2021

feb 15/RUN

2.75 miles
river road, south/edmund, north
-7 degrees/ feels like -10

Brr. Decided to go for it and run outside. Didn’t look too bad when I checked the forecast: low wind, bright sun. According to my watch, the wind is 2mph. I’m dubious. I felt a cold wind blowing in my face almost the entire run. It wasn’t a stiff wind, but it was more than a gentle breeze. Today felt uncomfortably cold, especially on my fingers. Still, it was nice to be out there. Was able to run right above the river. It’s all white, frozen, looking more like a snowy field than anything else.

Things I Remember Most

  • 2 different woodpeckers, with 2 different drumming sounds. 1. the sharp, rapid rat a tat tat on a hollow (or dead?) tree trunk and 2. a dull, slow thump thump thump on another tree.
  • The salt on the road kept tricking me–is it dried salt staining the road or tightly packed snow or slick ice? I don’t remember it ever being slippery but I do remember frequently mistaking salt for snow and snow for salt.
  • Only encountered 1 other runner the entire time, but saw a few walkers. I think every walker was with a dog.
  • I heard the trilling of a northern cardinal.
  • My eyes watered a lot, but didn’t freeze into icicles. Condensation froze on the inside of my sunglasses, making it hard to see my shadow ahead of me.
  • My toes weren’t froze but my fingers were; I had to ball up my hands inside of my gloves to warm them up. The empty fingers of my gloves flopped in the wind.

I wore many layers (from top to bottom):

  • a purplish-blueish-grayish hood*
  • an ugly black hat that fits/looks like a thick black swim cap*
  • a gray buff*
  • gray “sports dad” sunglasses
  • a olive-gray with lime green zippers outer jacket**
  • a purplish-blueish-grayish micro-fiber pullover (that has the hood) *
  • an orange thick running shirt
  • a lime sherbet green base layer shirt
  • 2 pairs of gloves: one black and designed for running, the other hot pink with white stripes, not designed for running or lasting–slowly one end is unraveling; I cut the loose thread every couple of runs
  • 2 pairs of black tights–one with pockets, one with zippers at the ankles and a drawstring**
  • a black running belt with a phone and my keys in it
  • 2 pairs of socks: one pair gray*, the other mis-matched–both white but one with a green logo and one with blue
  • gray (with a tinge of blue) running shoes

* running swag from a race
**inherited from Scott

Mostly, all of this kept me warm. The only parts of me that were really cold: my face (and my lungs?), and my fingers. My face stayed cold, but my fingers warmed up enough for me to take the hot pink gloves off.

a moment of sound

This very cold morning, while sitting in the front room at my desk, I could hear a low rumble. It rumbled and rumbled, rattling in the inside of my head, low and steady and unrelenting for at least 20 minutes. This sound was so low and quiet that I felt it more than I heard it. It was caused by a pick-up truck idling in front of a neighbor’s house two doors away and it was very irritating. I decided to open the front door and record the sound. My moment only lasted 16 seconds because it was too cold outside and because the truck was producing a lot of exhaust that was invading my lungs, making it hard to breathe.

Feb 15, 2021

Perhaps you don’t even notice the rumble? Maybe you just hear the birds, who don’t seem to be bothered. O, to be a bird who can ignore rumbling trucks and the bitter cold, and keep singing like it’s spring!

feb 14/BIKERUN

bike: 27 minutes
run: 2.25 miles
basement
outside temp: -5 degrees/ feels like -21

Colder today than yesterday. More time in the basement, more watching Dickinson and listening to Wintering. The Dickinson episode was about her father’s election, entering a poetry competition, Austen digging up a dead body in the cemetery to make room for Sue to be buried next to him, and the circus. Perhaps my favorite part of the episode is when Lavinia and her “friends”/the popular girls are having a slumber party and sitting around knitting and discussing the election and the need to abolish slavery. At one point Lavinia praises the most popular girl, “You’re so woke!” What a fabulous fantasy.

Listened to some more of Wintering and recorded a few thoughts while I ran:

notes while running/ 14 feb 2021

I wonder if she will discuss the need to address and change some of the harmful structures/habits that demand our wintering? Yes, I think there will always be times in our lives when we need to retreat/winter. And some of feeling stressed and overwhelmed is a given part of work–natural? like the seasons. But not all of it is or should be inevitable. I’m assuming these questions will be addressed at some point. For now, I’m enjoying listening to it.

a moment of sound

14 feb 2021/ feels like -35

This is what feels like 35 below sounds like. Took this recording on my back deck at 9am. Lots of birds, the rumble of the garbage disposal inside, the scraping of a shovel on the icy deck, feet pressing down on crusty snow.

feb 13/BIKERUN

bike: 15 minutes
run: 3.25 miles
basement
outdoor temp: -5 degrees/feels like -19

Another arctic blast of a day. Looking at the dark sky weather app, it will be this cold for another week. Oh well. Finished the Dickinson episode I started yesterday. The poem she is trying to finish as she pretends to be sick is one of my favorites, and one of the first of hers that I memorized: “tell all the truth but tell it slant” Not sure how this poem fits with the episode. I enjoyed watching the second half today. After finding out she is going to die, both parents visit Emily’s room separately for confession. Her mom confesses that she never wanted to have children and Emily dying reinforces that belief: “no person should have to go through this, burying a child!” Then she collapses on the bed with such excess it made me laugh. Then her father confesses that he got drunk one night in college and slept with another women, even as he was engaged to her mom. I thought about how this version of Emily is the vision of the director and I wondered if she had lots of fantasies as a kid about how upset people would be if she died–“I’ll show you! You’ll be sorry when I’m gone!” I never had those fantasies but I know some others who have–I have a kid who does. I also thought about how, even as the director’s vision doesn’t resonate for me, I appreciate how fully and openly and unapologetically she embraces it. She’s not pretending it’s anything less than her highly particular vision.

While running, I listened to my latest audio book, which I’m really enjoying: Wintering by Katherine May. Here’s how she describes wintering:

There are gaps in the mesh of the everyday world and sometimes they open up and you fall through into somewhere else. Somewhere else runs at a different pace to the here and now where everyone else carries on. Somewhere else is where ghosts live, concealed from view and only glimpsed by people in the real world. Somewhere else exists at a delay so that you can’t quite keep pace. Perhaps I was already resting on the brink of somewhere else anyway, but now I fell through as simply and discretely as dust shifting through the floorboards. I was surprised to find I felt at home there. Winter had begun. Everybody winters at one time or another. Some winter over and over again. Wintering is a season in the cold. It is a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, side-lined, blocked from progress or cast into the role of an outsider.

About 3/4s of the way through my run, I had to stop listening (but kept running) to record some of my thoughts about the book so far. In sum: Even as she envisions wintering as something to embrace she understands winter as awful and unwelcome, a struggle with the miserable cold. But I love winter and the cold. I like the book but struggle to get past this point.

notes will running 13 feb/ heart rate: 160 bpm

I need to figure out an app to use that records the audio and transcribes it. I should do more of these.

a moment of sound

Sitting at my desk this morning, I started hearing an irritating sound. What was it? Where was it coming from? Realized it was someone’s car alarm in the alley. In the recording you can hear Scott taking–I didn’t warn him I was recording.

feb 13, 2021

After recording my notes, I turned on my Spotify playlist for the last few minutes. Heard “Teenage Dirtbag” again. Favorite line:

Man, I feel like mold
It’s prom night and I am lonely
Lo and behold
She’s walkin’ over to me
This must be fake
My lip starts to shake
How does she know who I am?
And why does she give a damn about me?
I’ve got two tickets to Iron Maiden, baby
Come with me Friday, don’t say maybe
I’m just a teenage dirtbag, baby, like you

I feel like mold? This line made me smile.

feb 12/BIKERUN

bike: 15 minutes
run: 3.25 miles
basement
outside temp: -5 degrees, feels like -21

Another cold day. I don’t mind the cold but I worry my sinuses might, so back to the basement. I don’t mind. I like watching Dickinson and I’m getting used to the treadmill. In today’s episode of Dickinson, which I’ve watched half of, Emily is pretending to be sick so that she can stay in her room and write. Her parents are extremely worried; yellow fever has been going around and many people are dying. In the last part I watched, the doctor, after examining Emily, tells her parents that she is dying. They are distraught. Emily is oblivious and just happy to jump on her bed, write at her desk, and sneak out of her room to steal more books. I do not like this storyline, or this version of Emily. Such selfish, bratty behavior. It’s difficult for me to believe that Emily, having witnessed so many of those close to her dying–friends, even–would be so flippant about illness and death. Yes, I realize that I am watching this from the perspective of an uptight parent.

One part of the episode I did like, was her description, to her father’s law clerk, of poetry:

If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?

Looking it up, Emily apparently does say this, but not to a law clerk and not when she was a teen. These lines are recounted by her long time friend/mentor, Thomas Higginson, to his wife in 1870 (2 sources: full quote + letter it came from).

Emily’s lines here remind me of Basho and his description of poetry:

Poetry is a fireplace in summer or a fan in winter.

But getting back to Emily and her bratty behavior as one reason I don’t like this version. Reading through an article about the historical accuracy of the show, I encountered this quote from the creator, Alena Smith: “Everyone’s free to invent their own Emily Dickinson, and this is mine. I don’t in any way say it’s the authoritative version.” Yes. It helped me to loosen up on my irritation with the show once I realized it was one person’s fantasy of her.

After I finished biking, I ran on the treadmill while I listened to a playlist. Very nice. Didn’t think about much. Used a lot of effort trying to not check the display on the treadmill; I was hoping to lose track of time. It worked.

a moment of sound

This morning I opened the door to our back deck and recorded the noisy bird conversation. Sure sounds like spring to me! Hard to believe it felt like 33 below.

feb 12, 2021

Is that a northern cardinal I am hearing? I think so. It was close, but I am rarely able to see red birds in trees because of my failing vision. Can you hear the other one calling back from far away?

feb 11/BIKERUN

bike: 30 minutes
run: 3.25 miles
basement
outside temp: -3 degrees/ feels like -11

Thought about running outside but decided that this extra cold air is probably not good for my sinus problems. Plus, I wanted to watch more Dickinson and listen to my latest playlist while I ran. Watched the 5th episode of Dickinson. Discovered that an episode is only 30 minutes–for some reason, I thought they were longer–so I stayed on the bike to finish it. The episode was about white propertied males’ control over others’ (non-white propertied males) bodies. 3 examples: 1. the Dickinson’s black servant Henry is afraid to go into town for fear of being mistaken for a slave and then kidnapped; 2. orphaned Sue (Emily’s bff) is being sexually abused by her boss–the father she nannies for in Boston (it never shows it, but it strongly indicates the abuse); and 3. instead of asking Emily, Emily’s admirer George negotiates with Emily’s father for her hand in marriage. These different types of control are not equated. At the end of the episode, Emily apologize to Henry for how he was being treated, saying, “I’m sorry Henry. Life shouldn’t be like this.” Henry responds: “What should it be like? You’re sitting here, eating cakes and reading Shakespeare, trying to say this isn’t what life should be like. But your life is easy Emily Dickinson. You’ll always have your father to keep you safe.” The episode ends with Emily composing one of her poems in her bedroom with a voice-over of her reading it and the words, in her distinctive cursive, flashing across the screen:

I am afraid to own a body/ Emily Dickinson

I am afraid to own a Body —
I am afraid to own a Soul —
Profound — precarious Property —
Possession, not optional —

Double Estate — entailed at pleasure
Upon an unsuspecting Heir —
Duke in a moment of Deathlessness
And God, for a Frontier.

I liked the complications and messiness of the episode even as I was irritated by Emily’s repeated displays of her naive privilege (which was finally addressed at the end with Henry’s words to her).

After biking, I ran to a playlist, which was great. After hearing it this morning on The Current’s coffee break, I added “Teenage Dirtbag” to my list. Really fun to run to! Midway through my run, I started thinking about my syllabi project. I decided that I’d like to add in Audre Lorde’s “The Uses of Erotic” with a unit on wonder and joy. Then I thought about using Simone Weil with a discussion of attention. I thought about some other related things that I can’t remember now–I should have pulled out my phone to make a note, but it seemed like too much of a hassle. Bummer.

a moment of sound

feb 11, 2021/ -2 and feels like -14

Noisy pants, crunching snow, plodding steps, at least one faint bird call, and wind chimes! Scott was miserably cold but I was totally fine as we walked Delia around the block in the late afternoon. I love the cold! My mask warmed my face. The only exposed part of me were my eyeballs and eyelashes. I noticed some of the falling flakes (it’s snowing a little) freezing on my lashes.

feb 9/RUN

3.15 miles
edmund loop, starting south
5 degrees/ feels like -9
90% snow-covered

Decided to go for it this morning and run outside. Yes! It didn’t feel like it was 9 below to me. My hands were slightly cold for a few minutes, but no frozen toes or legs that feel like concrete or brain freezes from cold air. I know I looked ridiculous with all of my layers. I asked Scott and his answer was not no but “who cares?” I wore 2 pairs of running tights, 1 pair of socks, a green shirt, a thicker orange shirt, a lightweight pullover with a hood, a running jacket, a buff, a hat that almost looks like a swim cap, sunglasses, and yak trax on my shoes. The layers were good; I didn’t feel too warm or too cold.

Because it was so cold, I guessed that the river road trail would be empty. It was. Well, almost. I encountered 1 walker and a dog. Nice! I was able to run right above the gorge and check out how frozen the river was (very frozen). The only other thing I remember noticing was a few walkers (not together) walking below on the Winchell Trail. One of them was wearing a bright red jacket–or it might have been pink or orange. I wondered how deep the snow was down there. I crossed over to Edmund on the way back and heard lots of birds. When I heard a woodpecker drumming on a tree, I knew I needed to stop and record it for my moment of sound:

feb 9, 2021/ feels like -9

Love this sound! A few minutes later I heard at least one black-capped chickadee but I decided not to stop again. With the birds and the sun, it felt almost like spring, even in the cold. Maybe it felt more like the idea of spring. Actual spring hardly ever feels as great as the idea of it does. Here in Minnesota, spring is often wet and sloppy from melting snow–and smelly as the earth unthaws. Speaking of smelly, I smelled some fires at the same spot I usually do on Edmund. I’m still not sure but I think the smoke is coming from the gorge, not a house.

feb 7/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
run: 3.4 miles
basement
outside temp: -6 degrees/ feels like -19

Inside again today. I miss the gorge, but I’m not minding the basement. Hoping to build up endurance for longer runs/time outside in the spring. Not sure if my watch is completely accurate, but it said my average heart rate for the 33 minutes/ a little less than 10 min mile pace was 144 bpm! For someone who usually averages 170 bpm (but often gets up into the 180s), 144 is great–probably one of my lowest averages ever. Lower heart rate = more aerobic activity = less injuries (hopefully). I think it helped that I was listening to a good audio book (8 Perfect Murders) and that I covered the treadmill display with a towel so I couldn’t see the time. I only checked the time twice: first, when I got to the end of a chapter (almost 17 mins in) and then when I thought I might almost be done (33 mins in). Very nice to get lost in a book, and to listen to it instead of looking at it. Today is a bad eye day; it is more difficult to see as my eyes struggle to focus on letters. I think it’s hard because of how bright it is outside–so much blinding white!–and because I’ve been looking at a screen too much.

Before I ran, I biked. Watched most of the 4th episode of Dickinson. This one is about Emily and her efforts to protect her beloved oak tree from being cut down to make way for progress/a railroad. She travels with George (the student editor of the Amherst College paper who is in love with her) to Concord to enlist Thoreau’s help. She was in Thoreau’s cabin–having been escorted there by his mother who was collecting his laundry to wash–asking him for help when I finished my bike workout. This show’s take on Thoreau: he’s a douchey, over-privileged poser who is pampered by the women in his life: his mother does his laundry, his sister is always baking him his favorite cookies. Earlier in the episode, as Emily and George travel to Concord by train, they discuss marriage. Emily’s take: marriage sucks for women but is great for men. Their wives do all the work–taking care of the house, the kids, while they get to do “whatever their heart’s desire.” I wonder if either Emily’s opinion or Thoreau’s douchiness will change in the next 10 minutes, which is what I have left in the episode. And, will she be able to stop the railroad from being built in her backyard woods? I’ll see tomorrow.

At the beginning of the episode, Emily recites one of my favorite poems of hers:

In the name of the Bee –
And of the Butterfly –
And of the Breeze – Amen!

Then she reads Walden by Thoreau. I’ve read bits of it, but maybe I should read the entire book?

a moment of sound

This is what -4 degrees/ feels like -14 at 6:05 PM on my back deck sounds like:

feb 7, 2021

Aside from my coat rustling a few times, all I hear is cold. I’m glad I didn’t have to be out here too long, but for the 5 minutes I was–taking out the trash, then standing on the deck, recording–I enjoyed breathing in the cold, fresh air. So quiet and glowing blue in the twilight.

feb 3/RUN

3.2 miles
edmund loop, starting south
20 degrees/ feels like 14 degrees
95% clear sidewalks and streets

Hooray for wonderful winter runs! Today was an especially good one. Sunny, clear, lots of birds. Before I left, I couldn’t decided which way to run: turn right and do the north loop or turn left and do the south one. Asked my son to pick one, left or right. He said left. Excellent choice. Stepping outside of my house, this was what I heard:

Feb 3, 2021

The black-capped chickadees were really chatting this morning. Hard to believe it’s February and 20 degrees, with several inches of snow on the ground. These birds and the sun made it feel like spring.

I thought about sound a lot this morning as I ran. Right before I left, I had been rereading my January experiment, especially the poem by Steve Healey: 2 Mississippi. In it, he writes about recording the sound of the river “in an attempt to represent that sound more accurately” than his previous words could. Then the poem plays around with at least 5 different versions of the sound of the river: 1. the sound as described by his words, “shhh”, 2. the recording he makes of the sound as he stands next to the river, 3. the sound of the river as he hears it, while listening to it and his recording of the sound at the same time, 4. the recording of the sound of the river when he is home and at “a safe distance from the river” and 5. the sound of the river, independent of his hearing of it. Very cool to think about all of these different version of sound and layers of listening, which I did as I ran near the river, but not close enough to hear it. I want to spend some time with this poem, and more time thinking about my recordings and listening and the difference between sounds first heard, sounds never or not yet heard, and sounds heard later in a recording.

So many random thoughts occurred to me as I ran, most of which are lost. I recall thinking it might be cool to compare sounds for different seasons: (how) can you tell the difference between bird sounds in the winter versus the spring? Also thought about how often I’m trying to find the balance between knowing things and not needing to know things, and between attention and distraction–when is it good to be distracted? when is it good to give attention? In terms of the knowing/not knowing balance, I was just thinking: knowing just enough to make it (or keep it?) interesting. I also remember thinking, as I quickly looked down at the river through the trees from high up on the edmund hill, that when the river is completely iced over–and covered with snow–it does not shimmer or sparkle or reflect. It’s flat and matte. And, while it can still be blindingly white, it’s dull, not dazzling.

What else? So many cars at Minnehaha Academy; they were spilling out the parking lot and onto the side streets. Heard 2 runners on the river road talking as they ran, but couldn’t hear any of what they said. A work crew at a big house on edmund with one guy high up in a bucket, just about to trim (or cut down?) a tree. The wind in my face heading south, at my back returning north. Don’t remember seeing any dogs or fat tires or cross country skiers or big groups of walkers or runners. Didn’t hear the river—but I did hear a siren from the other side, the sound traveling across the gorge. Also heard a woodpecker drumming on some dead wood and a few robins, sounding like rusty tin whistles. Ran by Cooper Elementary but forgot to look out at the field–I was distracted because I was slowly passing a runner who was on the other side of the street. Heard a big nail gun clicking away as workers re-roofed a house.

feb 2/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
run: 3.25 miles
basement

Stayed inside today. Not that cold (about 20 degrees) or snow-covered, just wanted to stay inside. Finally started watching Emily Dickinson on Apple+. So far, I don’t like it and I was planning to ramble on in this log about it as I tried to figure out what bothers me. But, I deleted what I wrote. I’m planning to give the show a few more chances and watch at least 2 more episodes. If, after that, I still don’t like it, I might write something more. I’m glad that, after wanting to watch it for over a year, I finally am. Thinking about this episode and trying to figure out what I didn’t like about it has taken up almost 2 hours of my time–with nothing to show for it.

After I biked, I ran on the treadmill for about 30 minutes as I listened to an audio book: Agatha Christie’s By the Pricking of My Thumbs. Nice. I didn’t think about anything but what I was listening to–this book features my favorite sleuths, Tommy and Tuppence.

Earlier today, someone tweeted about retinal detachments. I was curious so I looked it up. Signs: you see floaters (like spiders) or flashes of light. I’ve been seeing flashes of light for about 6 months now–not sure how many each day. I don’t think I have a retinal detachment. I think my thinning retina is thinning even more, and might be tearing. This is not unexpected. Luckily it’s not painful, just part of the process of losing my central vision. Every so often, it can feel strange–I’ve been known to call out, “woah, trippy”–but not scary. My first thought: I am so glad that I already know what is happening to me and that I have had 4+ years to adjust to my inevitable vision loss. If these flashes were the first things I noticed and then I looked up retinal detachment, I would be freaking out right now. Instead, it’s good to know what these flashes most likely indicate.

I want to give attention to this flash of light, so I can describe what it looks/feels like to me. Next time it happens, I’ll try to write down some thoughts.

a moment of sound

I recorded today’s moment of sound while out on a walk with Delia. I would have liked to stop so I could record the birds better, but Delia wouldn’t let me. As a result, you can hear Delia’s collar, my footsteps, and my noisy pants. It’s funny how when I was listening, as I was recording, all I could hear were the birds. My brain had completely tuned out the collar and my footsteps/pants. Finally, you can hear the chirping birds and some cawing crows. So many loud crows lately!

Feb 2, 2021

feb 1/RUN

5k
edmund loop, starting north*
26 degrees
5% snow and ice covered

* I’ve been calling this route different things, but I’ll try to stick with this one: edmund loop. Heading north is: 43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/turn around at 42nd st/edmund, north. For the past few runs, I did the reverse; I’ll call that edmund loop, starting south

Only a few patches of ice on the sidewalks and roads. Not too cold, not too windy. A great morning for a run. Turning right onto 32nd st, I heard some wonderful wind chimes. I thought about stopping to record the sound, but I didn’t want to stop running and I thought the people who lived in the wind chime house might find it strange to see me holding my phone up and recording something right outside their house. My concern about what other people think too often seems to deter me from recording–whether it be a moment of sound or myself reciting a poem from memory. I’m working on getting over that.

Noticed several cars turning into Minnehaha Academy as I ran by it. Open for business, I guess. Next week, Minneapolis elementary school kids (preK-2nd) will be going back full time. 2 weeks after that: 3rd-5th. As I understand it, the teachers’ union is strongly opposed to this; the order comes from the governor (which is being pressured by the asshole Republicans in charge) and it completely upends the careful 5 phase plan Minneapolis Public Schools put in place this year. Many of the teachers have yet to receive a first dose of the vaccine. Ugh! How difficult for the teachers, especially now with new, more contagious variants! I thought more about elementary schools going back as I ran by Dowling Elementary on Edmund. How crowded will this road be next week? Also: how will they work out bussing for all of these kids?

At 42nd st, I crossed over to the river, trudged through some snow, and recorded a moment of sound. It’s a new month and I’m thinking about variations on the basic assignment of recording a moment outside. Should I only record moments during my outside runs for February? Maybe. I also thought about this: record a moment in the same spot every day. I’m not sure yet. Anyway, here’s the moment:

feb 1, 2021

I can hear my feet breaking through the crusty snow; cars rushing by on the river road; some wind; a cluster of dead leaves on a tree, rustling. It was windy at this spot, but I managed to shield the phone speaker with my hand for most of it.

The river was all whiteish gray and frozen. Cold. Desolate. Beautiful. I’m glad I stopped to look at it.

Running back on edmund, I put in my headphones and listened to an old playlist. I ran faster, which felt good. Nearing a t-intersection, I noticed a walker rapidly approaching, about to cross. I wondered if they would stop for me and I was irritated when it looked like they wouldn’t. I sped up. Right as I ran past them, but too late to say anything, I realized it was the Daily Walker! Bummer. I didn’t see that it was him. I’m still not totally sure it was him; I can’t recognize people’s faces, but I’m pretty sure I saw the tell-tale swing of his arm. I have a feeling that after so many years of encountering him, he might realize that I have vision problems and won’t think I was being rude.

Poetry twitter did not disappoint this morning! So many great sources and ideas and poems! Here’s one by Heather Christle that I especially like. Writing this, I was thinking about her last name, Christle, which my computer likes to auto-correct to Christie, and wondering if it’s pronounced like gristle. Right after that unfortunate thought, I looked at her twitter profile and saw this: “pronounced ‘Crystal'”. Much better. Anyway, I really like her writing.

Perfect Song/ Heather Christle

I remember walking through the morning
after a night of heavy snow and drink
with headphones on and they played
me the most perfect song: no one
was awake and I was hungover
young as clean as a piano
I thought and at any moment
someone might fall in love with me I was
that woven into the electric
cold bright air and for weeks
after I went through the album
in search of the song but could not
find it and later much later I saw
that what I had taken to be the song
was in fact the joyous concordance of
a moment that would not come again

favorite line today: I was/ that woven into the electric/ cold bright air

jan 29/RUN

3.25 miles
neighborhood in reverse
20 degrees/ feels like 8
15-25% snow and ice covered roads and sidewalks

Not too bad outside, although I had the wind in my face for most of it. A bright, gloomy white this morning. Humid, too–75%. The main road was mostly clear and not crowded. The occasional walker, one biker, a few dogs. The highlight: a cross country skier skiing in the big open stretch between the river road and edmund! I rarely see cross country skiers, so when I do, I’m delighted. Heard several crows cawing, a woodpecker drumming, a saw buzzing. Crossed the river road at 33rd and trudged a few steps through the snow to the split rail fence right above the river. The river! Almost all ice, with a few slashes of open water. The open water wasn’t black like it has been in past winters, but a pale, grayish blue. Tried recording a moment of sound, but the rushing wind and the whooshing cars were all I could hear when I listened back to it. Tried again, after I crossed the road:

Jan 29, 2021

I can hear a black-capped chickadee doing the feebee call and my feet crunching on the crusty snow and cars whizzing by and another bird that makes a two note call that I can’t identify–I looked it up, but I couldn’t find it. I’ll have to keep working on my bird calls.

jan 28/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
run: 3.25 miles
basement

Thought about running outside again this morning but decided that I should run inside where it felt warmer than 0 and so I could listen to my audio book which is due in 8 days. (As usual, all of my books became available from the library at the same time.) Watched a few random races while I biked, then listened to the audio book, The Guest List, while I ran. I’m not quite sure why I keep reading/listening to books in this Ruth Ware/Paula Hawkins type genre: British, murder, troubled past, terribly toxic friends, forced gatherings. Do I even enjoy them? I guess I do a little because I always finish them, but I hate most of the characters: lost, selfish, never having their shit together. Listening to it this morning did help the 32 minutes on the treadmill go by much faster. The first few minutes were difficult as I thought, how can I stay on here for another 28 minutes? But it got easier. It is still easier (and much more fun) to run outside. I think one of my goals for this winter will be to work on my aerobic base (the long, slow miles at a lower heart rate) so that when it gets warmer and the paths are clearer I will be fit enough to run for an hour. Yes! I miss running for longer distances, traveling farther away from my house beside the river. So much more to write about.

how we see: eyes and brain

For the past few days, I’ve been reviewing how vision works, from when light enters the eye and hits the retina and then travels through the optic nerve to the visual cortex and the occipital lobe. So much jargon–names for parts of the cells and the neurons and the areas of the brain, ways of discussing direction (dorsal, medial, ventral). How much do I need (or want) to know about this process? When does it become too much, a distraction? What I find fascinating, from my limited research, is how, even as scientists use their fancy language to name/classify the parts of the brain and what they do, there is so much they can’t name or understand. I am not dismissing the important work that is/has been done on how we see, but I’m drawn to the limits of that language and knowledge. The mysterious parts. It seems like there is a lot that scientists don’t know about how the brain processes images and visual information. I’m basing this last conclusion mainly off of the lack of recent articles (in the last 10 years) on how we see and the conclusion to this article (it’s from 1993 so it’s old, yet I haven’t found many more recent articles):

Let me try to give you a sense of where we are, says Margaret Livingstone, in an effort to assess the status of visual research today. Take form perception. Human beings are very good at it. We recognize contours, faces, words, a lot of really complicated things. What we understand is that in the retinas, the lateral geniculate bodies, and the first layer of the visual cortex, we code for changes in brightness or color. In the next stage, cells become selective for the orientation of the change–that is, they code for contours, or edges. In some places cells select for the length of the contour. Then, if you go up very high, you find cells selective for certain faces. Livingstone pauses. We know remarkably little about what happens in between. It’s frightening how big a gap there is.

The Vision Thing

Instead of understanding these gaps as failures to KNOW, I like to think of them as reminders that seeing/vision is so much more than we can or ever will understand. It is complex and can’t be reduced to the simple, naive idea that our eyes see what’s in the world and then our brain correctly communicates that exact image to us. I am not sure this makes sense, but I have been interrupted several times in writing this entry and I think I lost my train of thought. I’ll keep it in and work on it later.

a moment of sound

Listen to those birds! Right outside my front door. It’s 18 degrees, but sounds like spring.

jan 28, 2021

jan 27/RUN

3.2 miles
neighborhood in reverse*
10 degrees/ feels like 0
25% snow and ice covered sidewalks and roads

*Normally I run north on 43rd ave, then right on 32nd st to the river, then south on edmund until I turn around at 42nd st, then north on edmund until I reach 35th. Today, I reversed it and added a stretch, running north on the river road trail between 42nd and 38th.

Another wonderful winter run! Felt colder today; was it the humidity? I could feel (and see) water turning to ice on my eyelashes. Not too much wind. There was a point, when I was running south on edmund that I thought, “I’m not feeling any wind. Uh oh. Does that mean it will be in my face when I turn around?” Yes, it does and it was, but never blustery, just persistently cold. Encountered a few more people out there today. Some walkers, some runners, a few dogs. Fairly certain I kept my 6+ feet distance the whole time. It was wonderful to run right above the river, all iced over, a grayish white. Still, stuck, silent. Except for the birds. Heard some black capped chickadees and some others chirping–finches, maybe? This year, I need to learn to identify a few of these birds which currently I only hear as chirps or trills.

Speaking of birds, as I was walking out of my house, I heard a black capped chickadee! Of course I had to make it my moment of sound. I knew it was a good omen for my run.

jan 27, 2021

Discovered this wonderful poem, and wonderful poet, the other day on Instagram:

Status Update/ Rebecca Lindenbery

Rebecca Lindenberg is drinking whisky. Feels guilty. Is caught in one of those feedback loops. Is a blankety-blank. Is a trollop, a floozy, a brazen hussy. Would like to add you as a friend. Would like to add you as an informant. Would like to add you as her dark marauder, as her Lord and Savior. Has trouble with boundaries. Rebecca Lindenberg is keeping lonesomeness at bay with frequent status updates designed to elicit a thumbs-up icon from you. Rebecca Lindenberg likes this, dismisses this with a backhanded wave. Rebecca Lindenberg wraps her legs around this. Has a ball of string you can follow out of her labyrinth. Has this labyrinth. Rebecca Lindenberg has high hopes. Has high blood sugars. Rebecca Lindenberg doesn’t want to upset you. Wants to say what you want to hear. Rebecca Lindenberg thinks of poetry as the practice of overhearing yourself. Rebecca Lindenberg thinks about love. About ribbons unspooling. Rebecca Lindenberg would like to add you as a profound influence. Would like to add you as a loyal assassin. Would like to add you as her date to the reckoning. Rebecca Lindenberg remembers a statue of a faceless girls with shapely feet. Rebecca Lindenberg remembers the Italian for “chicken breasts” is petti di pollo and the world for kilogram is kilo and that a kilo is way too much chicken breast for a family of three. Steals sage from strangers’ gardens. Runs for it. Misses Rome. Misses her family of three. Is lost in her own poem. Rebecca Lindenberg has dreams in which you come back. Rebecca Lindenberg lets it go. Rebecca Lindenberg crescendos and decrescendos. Rebecca Lindenberg is: Hey, you, c’mere. Rebecca Lindenberg is: You are not the boss of me. Rebecca Lindenberg is not the boss of you. Rebecca Lindenberg goes to movies. Needs a bigger boat. Gave you her heart and you gave her a pen. Can’t handle the truth. Rebecca Lindenberg loves the truth. Loves the smell of dirt gathered in water and the sleep-smell of your morning body. Loves her rumpled cat, her jimmied window. Loves long letters. Will write soon.

What a poem! I like the energy and her approach to describing herself. I’d like to put it beside my poem, A Bridge of Saras, which was a homage to Wayne Holloway-Smith’s Some Waynes.

jan 26/RUN

3 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/dowling, west/47th ave, nw/loop around Howe Elementary
11 degrees/feels like 0
sidewalks and main roads: clear
side streets: 100% snow-covered, 1/2 plowed

I love running outside in the winter! There was wind running north, but it didn’t bother me. And I wasn’t too cold. No frozen fingers or toes. I wore my yak trax, which was a bad idea. Most of the sidewalks were clear and dry. I ran in the street as much as I could so I wouldn’t damage the coils of my trax, but it would have been much safer on the sidewalk. Oh well.

a moment of sound

Running south on Edmund, when I reached 38th street, I crossed over the river road, walked down the steps to the Winchell Trail and admired the gorgeous river for a moment. Decided to record my moment of sound from that spot. It was so peaceful and icy and wonderful to watch, I had to turn the moment of sound into a video:

jan 26, 2021

Things I Remember

  • The uneven tracks of snow on the road jarring my foot and ankle but not twisting them
  • The sound of a kid laughing or talking or something to an adult on the river road
  • Running in the middle of the road, listening carefully and looking back every so often to make sure no cars were coming
  • Hearing a chain jangling near Minnehaha Academy, thinking it sounded like a dog collar then wondering why there would be a dog so close to the school entrance (I didn’t look to see what it actually was; I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell even if I had).
  • Walking up the steps from the Winchell Trail and hearing the shuffling steps of a runner approaching. Watching them (from a safe distance) run by, then noticing a fat tire off to my left
  • I don’t remember noticing if Minnehaha Academy’s parking lot was full or hearing any woodpeckers or black capped chickadees or seeing any cross country skiers or needing to avoid any irritating squirrels

One of the poetry people I follow on twitter really likes James Schuyler, which is fine with me, I really like him too. Here’s a poem they posted yesterday:

The Snow/ James Schuyler

that fell and iced
the walks and streets
is melted off: it’s
gone. I slipped a
little as I strode.
It’s early winter
yet though, more and
much is yet to come.
This gray day though
is much too warm
for snow. The window’s
up a crack and I shiver
only slightly. I
think of you and then
my thought slides
on, like slipping
on a lightly iced
walk. I have no more
poems for you, chum,
only for the ice and snow.

I love the ending of this poem: the idea of thoughts slipping on a lightly iced walk, which makes me think of Wittgenstein and his line about the need for rough, tractional ground, and referring to the reader as chum. Chum is such a strange, old-fashioned, wonderful word. For me, it conjures, simultaneously, a feeling of nostalgic affection for a friend and the image of bloody guts and Jaws–oh, and also Bart Simpson’s response to Milhouse in an early season of The Simpsons:

“Anytime chummmmmmmmmp”

This clip is from the 4th episode of the 7th season (1995) and is called, “Bart sells his soul.” Speaking of the soul, it came up on poetry people twitter this morning in this thread:

Interestingly, just as chum seems to be an old-fashioned word, so does soul. I don’t like the idea of the eternal, needs-to-be-saved-or-you’re-going-to-hell soul, but I do like Walt Whitman’s use of it in “The Body Electric”:

if the body were not the soul, what is the soul? 

O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul, 
O I say now these are the soul!

Returning to the ice, patches of barely formed ice on slightly warmer days is often the most dangerous type of ice. It’s harder to see and is so slippery! The only time I like ice when it’s warmer is when it forms into a thin, fragile sheet on the surface of a puddle. Such fun to walk over it, hearing it crack.

What a delightfully rambling log entry!

jan 25/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 3.25 miles
basement

Cold this morning with snow-covered sidewalks. We got about 5 inches of snow on Saturday night and Sunday morning. I thought about running outside, but decided to stay inside to be warm and safe from slippery roads and/or crowded trails. Running inside on the treadmill is a good challenge for me, I think. It helps me to go slower and steadier and to work on pushing through the long minutes of monotony. Plus, I can work on my form and posture. I listened to my audio book (The Mesmerizing Girl) as I ran for just over 30 minutes.

moments of sound

Jan 24, 2021

For yesterday’s moment of sound, Scott and I were on a walk with Delia, right by Howe Elementary. Two sounds dominate: the buzzing/ringing of the furnace at the school (I think it’s the furnace) and the shshshshshing or crushcrushcrushing or thrashing? of my snow pants as I walk. We passed some kids playing on a mound of snow. I wish my phone would have done a better job of picking up what the one kid was saying. It was something about a sword and cutting something in half “with my MIND!” I have decided that I need some tips from Scott (the sound expert) on how to record better sound. That might be a goal for February.

Jan 25, 2021

For the majority of this recording, you get to hear the delightfully irritating crunch crack crush of ice breaking under my winter boot as I walk across the driveway. Yesterday this driveway was sheer ice, but Scott sprinkled some salt or sand on it and it melted and refroze in shards overnight. Love this sound! For the last 10 seconds or so, it’s much quieter. If you listen closely, you can hear a bird or two calling out. Today it is cold but sunny, and with the birds chirping and the sun warming my face, it feels like April not January.

Found out about this wonderful poem on twitter yesterday:

Story/ Tiana Clark

with its waterlogged wings spread open,
drying off on a rock in the middle
of a man-made lake after diving for food
and it makes me think about wonder
and it makes me want to pry and stretch
my shy arms open to the subtle summer
wind slicing through the park, sliding
over my skin like a stream of people
blowing candles out over my feathery
body and it makes me think about my
church when I was a kid, and how I
lifted my hands to Jesus, hoping
for surrender, but often felt nothing,
except for the rush of fervent people wanting
to be delivered from their aching, present
pain, and how that ache changed the smell
in the room to money and how I pinched
my face and especially my eyes tighter,
tighter and reached my hands higher—how
I, like the cormorant, stood in the middle
of the sanctuary so exposed and open
and wanted and wanted so much to grasp
the electric weather rushing through
the drama of it all like a shout
in the believer’s scratchy throat.

I don’t go to church anymore, but today
I woke up early and meditated. I closed
my eyes and focused on a fake seed
in my hand and put my hands over
my heart to shove the intention inside
my chest to blossom—I’m still stumbling
through this life hoping for anyone or
something to save me. I’m still thinking
about the cormorant who disappeared
when I was writing this poem. I was just
looking down and finishing a line
and then I looked back up—gone.

What a wonderful poem! I’d like to read this next to Mary Oliver’s “The Real Prayers Are Not the Words, But the Attention that Comes First

Reading this poem, I was not familiar with the cormorant, so I looked it up. Here’s a great site: Cool Cormorants, and Little known facts about one of nature’s feathery fisherman

  • They’re big, the size of a goose, with turquoise eyes.
  • They have matte black feathers and yellow-orange facial skin.
  • They eat a lot of fish–about 1 lb a day.
  • Their feathers are not waterproof, so their wings become water-logged.
  • They’re excellent swimmers and divers, but don’t look like it. Their water-logged wings make them look awkward.
  • They don’t fly as well as they swim (because: short wings), expending the most energy of any flying bird.
  • They regurgitate pellets–like owls–made up of undigested fish bones and animal parts.

jan 23/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
run: 5K
basement

Unless I get out the door early, I don’t like running outside on the weekends. Too crowded on paths already narrowed by snow and ice. So I biked and ran in the basement. Watched the HOKA 100k challenge live online as Jim Walmsley tries to break the world record for 100K (currently held by Japan’s Nao Kazami 6:09:14/ 5:56.5 mile pace for 62.2 miles). Good god. Almost 5 hours in, he’s still holding on, running with blood on his shoulder–he clipped his shoulder on the edge of a fence early into the race. Hard core. Then I listened to my audio book as I ran. I decided to do a relaxed 5k. It’s getting easier to run longer on the treadmill. It will never be as fun or inspiring or invigorating as being outside, but it’s still the chance to move and not feel trapped in my restless body.

Before I starting working out, I memorized Emily Dickinson’s “Snow flakes,” partly because it’s supposed to snow later today. Such a fun little poem! I learned that this poem is only 1 of 3 (out of 1780) poems that Dickinson titled. Cool.

Snow flakes/ Emily Dickinson

I counted til they danced so
their slippers leaped the town —
and then I took a pencil
to note the rebels down —
And then they grew so jolly
I did resign the prig —
And ten of my most stately toes
are marshalled for a jig!

I love the energy and the surrender to the delight of falling snow and her word choices: jolly, resign the prig, stately toes, marshalled a jig.

a moment of sound

Playing with Delia in the backyard, walking up the deck steps, then opening the door to let her in the house. I hear a few birds as the snow begins to fly on this cold (20 degrees/feels like 10) afternoon.

jan 23, 2021

jan 22/RUN

5K
45th ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/edmund, north/36th st, west
7 degrees/ feels like -3

Last week I said I would much rather it be colder with clear sidewalks, than warmer with icy sidewalks. That was proven today. As I was saying to Scott, you can always add layers to be warm, but you can’t do much to make uneven icy paths safer–yak trax work, sort of, but not when the ice is jagged and filled with ruts. Hooray for sun and not too much wind and mostly empty streets and a soundtrack of birds and clear, cold air and new Presidents getting shit done!

Encountered only a few walkers, no runners (I think) and one biker. Heard lots of birds. Smelled some smoke as I ran on Edmund. Noticed a foot wide stripe of faded white on the edge of the street–what’s left of the salt used to treat the road. The stripe stretched for a quarter mile or more. Once I realized it was only salt stains and not a thin sheet of ice, I ran on it. Heard some park workers and their chainsaws, trimming trees above the gorge. Yes, a better view! I should remember to stop during my run and go check out the river. I miss it! If I can’t run right beside the river for long stretches, at least I can admire it for a moment.

a moment of sound

Earlier this morning, sitting at my desk in the front room, I heard a black capped chickadee calling outside. Quickly, I got my phone to record it. It wasn’t until after it stopped that I realized I had forgotten to push the record button. Bummer. Still, I recorded some other birds and a bird or a squirrel or something knocking on wood or an acorn. You can hear the tap tap tapping. Towards the end, you can also hear my 17 year old son, yelling out from his room (behind a closed door) to his friends online as they prepared to raid a base or something like that on whatever online game they were all playing. He was yelling the whole time I was recording, but this was the only bit of it that I can hear on the recording.

Jan 22, 2021

I am almost positive I have posted this poem before, but I would like to memorize it, so I posting it again.

Winter Trees/WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS

All the complicated details 
of the attiring and 
the disattiring are completed! 
A liquid moon 
moves gently among 
the long branches. 
Thus having prepared their buds 
against a sure winter 
the wise trees 
stand sleeping in the cold. 

jan 21/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 2.1 miles
basement

I guess I’m turning into a wimp this winter because the sidewalks looked uneven and icy and the wind was howling, so I decided to stay inside and work out in the basement. Actually, I think it has less to do with being a wimp, and more to do with it being harder to run in the road and the sidewalks than on the river road trail and harder to avoid people and harder to stay motivated to run outside when I can’t see the river or the gorge. That’s okay. I don’t mind running inside a bit more this month–hopefully just this month.

Watched some races while I biked, and listened to an audiobook, The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl, for the first half of my run. For the second half, I listened to a playlist and recorded video of my running. With my right knee prone to subluxations and my left hip and lower back often sore, it’s helpful to study my form. I think I need to do a better job of setting up the camera–either that or I really hunch over with my shoulders. Maybe I should try checking my form from the side too? It’s fascinating to me how, over almost my 10 years of running, I’m slowly learning how to accept and take care of my aging body. Oftentimes it sucks to have to worry about all of these aches and pains, but it is also very helpful and satisfying to learn how to work with my body instead of being afraid of its failures.

a moment of sound

I recorded today’s moment of sound on my driveway, back near the alley, in a spot sheltered from the wind. It was very windy. The loud whooshing sounds are not traffic but the wind rushing through the trees. If you listen carefully, you can hear wind chimes (my favorite) and water dripping off of the eaves on my garage (not my favorite). At one point, there’s a pop or a creak or a crack–some siding or wood fence contracting.

Jan 21, 2021

THINGS TO DO/ James Schuyler

Balance checkbook.
Rid lawn of onion grass.
“this patented device”
“this herbicide”
“Sir, We find none of these
killers truly satisfactory.  Hand weed
for onion grass.”  Give
old clothes away, “such as you
yourself would willingly wear.”
Impasse.  Walk three miles
a day beginning tomorrow.
Alphabetize.
Purchase nose-hair shears.
Answer letters.
Elicit others.
Write Maxine.
Move to Maine.
Give up NoCal.
See more movies.
Practice long-distance dialing.
Ditto gymnastics:
The Beast with Two Backs
And, The Fan.
Complain to laundry
any laundry.  Ask for borrowed books back.
Return
junk mail to sender
marked, Return to Sender.
Condole.  Congratulate.
” . . . this sudden shock . . . “
” . . . this swift surprise . . . “
Send. Keep.  Give.  Destroy.
Brush rub polish burn
mend scratch foil evert
emulate surpass.  Remember
“to write three-act play”
and lead “a full and active life.”

-from Collected Poems

I love lists. Making them, reading them, turning them into poetry. I think I’d like to write another series of lists.

jan 18/RUN

5K
2 school loop
20 degrees/feels like 11
sidewalks: 80% slippery, uneven ice
road: 1 thin strip of pavement

Yes! I ran outside today. It was cold. It was too crowded. It was icy. But I managed to stay warm in my layers, almost always keep a safe distance, and not fall. A great run. Fresh air! Trees and birds to admire! The ability to alter my pace without worrying about falling off the treadmill!

Lots of birds out today. I wanted to stop and record a moment of sound under a tree with a calling (crying?) bird, but it was too crowded. I don’t remember seeing many runners, only lots of walkers. The two women who annoyingly take over the entire road, spread out in a way that it is impossible to not get too close to them, were at it again. Sigh. I know I’m lucky that I can still run outside and almost always avoid other people.

Anything else? Noticed a few people skating at the rink at Hiawatha–the same rink that someone was just making a few weeks ago and that I featured in my moment of sound earlier this month. I didn’t see the river, or the Daily Walker, or any turkeys. But I heard the wind rushing through some dead leaves on a tree, a delivery guy grumbling as he left a house, and my labored breathing as I ran directly into the wind.

Most of the time, when the sidewalk was too treacherous (or tretch, as I like to say), I could find a strip of clear pavement on the road–usually near the edge, but sometimes in the middle. A few times, there was no escape from the very slick, very rutted ice. I’d stutter step and try to slow myself down gradually before carefully walking until it was clear. I bet I looked funny or ridiculous or foolish to someone watching. I don’t care. I didn’t fall and I got to be outside without a coat, moving and breathing and occasionally flying for 30 minutes!

Today I am doing okay. The trick is to avoid thinking about insurrections or more violence to come. And to believe that the inauguration will be a success and we will be able to celebrate it and cry tears of joy and not terror. And to forget that the pandemic is getting much worse. The trick is to remember the river and vaccines and Major and Champ and fresh air and exciting creative projects and how great lemon water tastes and sun (which is shining right now) and the black-capped chickadee that greets me almost every day.

a moment of sound

Today’s sound is from the backyard. Right now, we have 2 or 3 inches of crusty, icy, packed snow, which makes for a delightful crunching sound as you walk through it. This is one of my favorite winter sounds.

jan 18, 2021