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 20/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 1.3 miles
basement

Finally, it’s over! Already, Biden and Harris are working to undo some of the damage. What an awful, exhausting, traumatic 4 years. Yet, some good too, in spite of it all: a renewed faith in democracy, the chance for an actual reckoning with slavery and racism, and, most personally, a rediscovery of poetry and a new direction for my work on a feminist ethics of care. I started this running log in January of 2017, right as Trump was becoming president. There were many reasons I started writing here, but the urgent need to find a new way to be in the Trump era was surely one of them. In ways that I can’t yet articulate, this blog and my project of paying attention and of finding the small moments of delight–always letting the wonder win, as Aimee Nezhukumatathil says–was a form of resistance, a refusal to lose my faith in the world and my hope for the future. I must admit, it got much harder to resist these last few months, but the habits I built up from my miles and my words (and the beautiful words of many others), have helped me to persist and I know they will help me as I work hard to rid myself of all of the Trump-era toxins I’ve had to absorb. Does this sound too dramatic? Maybe, but today feels like a day for being dramatic!

I didn’t think about any of these things as I biked or ran. I just enjoyed moving and feeling free, even if it was in my dark unfinished basement.

Hooray for new administrations! Hooray for hope and possibility and room to breathe and grieve and imagine better worlds! Hooray for a renewed desire to do the work! And hooray for this beautiful poem by Amanda Gorman:

The Hill We Climb/ Amanda Gorman

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.
But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.
The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

a moment of sound

After the inauguration, Scott and I took Delia out for a walk. It wasn’t too cold, but it was windy and blustery and slippery–and difficult to get a moment of sound. In this recording, you can hear the wind and Delia’s collar clanging and our feet walking over the crusty ice and snow.

jan 20, 2021

jan 17/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 1.3 miles
basement

Another day of icy sidewalks, so more working out in the basement. Will I be able to run outside tomorrow? I think so. If nothing else, I can do loops around Howe Elementary. When Scott and I took Delia the dog out for a walk this morning, I noticed that it was mostly clear there. It’s not as exciting as other routes, but still outside. Didn’t think about much while I was biking or running. Tried out a few spotify playlists, but didn’t really like any of them. Someday, I’ll put together my own playlist. Even though it wasn’t that exciting, it still felt good to move.

After I finished my run, I stood out on the deck and recorded my moment of sound. Very still and gray. The bare tree branches looked delightfully fuzzy and soft, almost like a smudge of gray. There’s at least one dog barking in the distance–one block over. Too bad the trio of spazzy dogs on that same block didn’t join in. What a cacophony of yelps and yips and ruffs they make! Sometimes I like walking Delia right by their house just to get them going.

jan 17, 2021

jan 15/BIKE/RUN

bike: 20 minutes
run: 3.25 miles
basement

Very wet outside today. Sloppy and icy, the temperature hovering right around freezing. Yuck. Decided to stay inside today and bike and run. Watched a race and then checked the news while I biked, listened to a playlist while I ran. Ran more than I thought I would. Heard songs by Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Adele, Miley Cyrus. Mostly avoided thinking about anything, but every so often thoughts about impending violence and possible civil wars and how many people are at risk, and which people are more at risk, crept in. What a terrible time. I mentioned to Scott last night that we need to engage in a lot of public grieving (and reckoning) after all of this is over–Biden should establish a national day of mourning, I think–maybe an annual one.

At the end of my run, as I did my warm down walk, I recited Robert Frost’s “Dust of Snow” from memory. I couldn’t remember the line, “a change of mood.” I said “a better mood” instead. I spent a lot of time yesterday reciting this poem over and over again, working on getting the meter right. Why was it so hard for me to remember the correct lines? Not sure. Also not sure why meter is so hard for me to get right. I can’t seem to hear what’s stressed and what’s not.

a dust of snow, jan 15

a moment of sound

for jan 14: yesterday, I took Delia the dog on a walk when it was just starting to snow. We walked 4 blocks to the gorge, checked out the ravine, and then walked right above the rim to the overlook at 34th st. So beautiful. You can hear Delia’s collar jingling and snow falling on my coat, some cars passing behind us, and several birds: the “chickadeedeedee” song and a woodpecker drumming away + some other birds that I can’t quite identify.

jan 14, 2021

for jan 15: today’s moment of sound was recorded after my workout on my back deck. The crinkling noise is hard pellets (graupels!?) of snow falling on my coat. You can also hear the drip drip dripping of melting snow in a gutter. How delightful and strange and not that common in January to hear falling and melting snow at the same time. And there’s a loud rush/roar sound of city traffic from a freeway. It’s hard to believe, but we live more than a mile away from any freeway. The sound is traveling far today.

jan 15, 2021

jan 10/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
run: 2.1 miles
basement

It’s the weekend and since it looked crowded near the gorge when Scott and I took Delia out for a walk this morning, I decided to stay inside and bike and run on the treadmill. Watched some YouTube videos while I biked and then listened to a good playlist as I ran: The Man/Taylor Swift; Sunflower/Harry Styles; Midnight Sky/Miley Cyrus; You Should See Me in a Crowd/Billie Eilish; We Can’t Stop/Miley Cyrus; Tightrope/Janelle Monae. All good songs for staying distracted (or not being distracted?) while running. I still cringe at the lyrics of Miley’s “We Can’t Stop,” but the beat works for my cadence. At the end of my run, as I walked and got my heart rate down, I recorded myself reciting a snow poem I memorized earlier today: Snow-flakes/ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. What a beautiful poem!

Snow-flakes/ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Out of the bosom of the air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow,
Descends the snow.

Even as our cloudy fancies take
Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
In the white countenance confession,
The troubled sky reveals
The grief it feels.

This is the poem of the air,
Slowly in silent syllables recorded.
This is the secret of despair,
Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
Now whispered and revealed
To wood and field.

Love the rhythm and the easy rhymes and the idea of snow as the poem of the air. I’m not as enthusiastic about his love of the word “bosom,” although it sings much better than boobs or chest.

Snow-flakes, Jan 10

Earlier today, after returning from my walk with Scott, I recorded a moment of sound on my front steps. I had hoped to capture the sound of the wind chimes we had heard as we walked, but I guess there wasn’t enough wind. Bummer. Not much to hear in this moment: some birds, faintly singing, some traffic one block over, a car rumbling by. It is very quiet on my block, which is nice.

a moment of sound, jan 10, 2021

jan 9/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
run: 1.3 miles
basement

Watched a race while I biked. Ran with a playlist, then remembered a runner mentioning listening to “thunderstruck” while they ran and liking it, so I switched to that for my final minutes. Nice. AC/DC is fun to run to. Didn’t think about anything except that I breathe better when I’m working out. I also breathe better outside and in the winter, which I noticed (again) earlier today when Scott and I were walking Delia the dog. So bright with the white snow.

A nice relaxing day. Managed to stop myself from obsessively checking the news every few minutes. Sat on the couch and read Agatha Christie’s “The Secret Adversary” with the sleuthing duo, Tommy and Tuppence. Scott and I discovered their 1982 (or 83?) BBC show a week or so ago and we’ve been watching it almost every night. I like their dynamic and saying “Tuppence” as much as I can–maybe Tuppence and Bunty from Father Brown should team up for a show. Such strange names.

Went out on the deck for my moment of sound this afternoon. Managed to convince my 14 year old daughter to join me. Today’s sound is mostly the scampering of Delia the dog–her collar clanging as she shakes, her claws scratching the deck, her scampering paws. Delia loves leaping through the snow like a bunny.

jan 9, 2021

I’m already liking these moments of sound. The quality isn’t that great and maybe what I’m capturing isn’t that interesting, but the act of capturing a moment of sound outside and then listening back to it and writing about it is helping me develop (or reinforce) great habits–making sure I get outside and that I stop and stand still and listen are important/helpful things to do right now. Plus, it helped me to get my daughter outside to play in the snow for a few minutes–something she hardly ever does.

Discovered this afternoon that there’s an animation for an awesome poem by Marie Howe:

And here’s a poem I found the other day that I like:

I Refuse to Report Bugs to Their Creator/ BRAYAN SALINAS

During roll call
a black beetle
wanders to the sink,
near my toothbrush,
and I say,
“Poor thing,
I better let you go.”

                                 My father says,
                                 “You better smash that thing
                                 before it multiplies.”
                                 I think he says the
                                 same about me.

I lie awake at night
and think
about crunchy leaves
crushed in the autumn.

                                 My mother sees
                                 six red ants
                                 running around
                                 the loaf of bread
                                 anticipating their breakfast.
                                 She says to me,
                                 “Get those things off
                                 the table.”

My sister panics
at the sight of a spider.
She runs to the kitchen
and screams bloody murder.
I remind her,
“We don’t find
scary things
scary anymore.”

                                 My mother flicks
                                 the grasshopper off  her book.
                                 She asks how I am doing.
                                 I lie to her
                                 and say,
                                 “I’m doing quite all right,
                                 I smashed a bug
                                 with my shoe.
                                 We all do
                                 what we don’t want to do.”

I see a cockroach
on the ground.
“Gregor,” I whisper,
“you better run fast.”
He says to me,
“I only need to run faster
than you.”

jan 7/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
run: 2.1 miles
basement

Yesterday, pro-Trump domestic terrorists invaded the US Capitol while Congress was in the midst of certifying Biden’s victory. Terrifying, terrible, but not surprising to anyone who has been paying attention for the last 4 years. Scott and I sat in front of the tv all afternoon and evening, watching it unfold in real time.

A bit sore today from running outside yesterday–and maybe sitting on the couch all afternoon? Decided to do some biking and a shorter run inside today. As I biked, I split my time between watching a documentary about Bob Fosse (I loved watching Cabaret as a kid; it must have been in heavy circulation on HBO which was the cable channel I watched the most in the 1980s) and checking CNN and the New York Times to see whether or not they had invoked the 25th amendment on Trump yet (as of 2:30, not yet). After biking, I put in my “Daily Mix 3” on Spotify. Discovered that Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and the Beat” with Nikki Minaj is a great song to run to–it came up second, right after “xanny” by Billie Eilish and right before Demi Lovato’s “Sorry, not Sorry”. Forgot about everything but making sure I didn’t fall of the treadmill. Nice.

After my workout in the basement, I went outside and recorded my moment of sound on my deck. I was particularly interested in capturing the scratching or clicking (it almost sounds like water dripping) of the strange objects hanging from my neighbor’s eaves. Listening back to the recording, you can’t hear it until 40 seconds in.

jan 7, 2021

My neighbor has three of these objects, hanging from the eaves at the top of the house. I remember when I first noticed them in the late summer. Very irritating. They’re metallic and they spin, catching the sun and flashing it onto our deck and through my daughter’s window upstairs. I had no idea what they were for, which made me even more annoyed. Then Scott suggested they might be for keeping the woodpecker, that had already pecked a huge hole in their siding, away. Yep, he’s right. They’re called scare rods and the flashing freaks birds out–I can see why. I can’t find a image of the exact ones they have, but here’s a picture of a similar one. The only difference: this one has diamonds, while theirs have rectangles.

The flashing is still irritating but I can live it, knowing what these are for. I’m glad the woodpecker won’t be pecking at their house anymore!

jan 6/RUN

5K
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/edmund, north
29 degrees
50% snow-covered

Still lots of snow on the road and the sidewalk even though it’s been above freezing most afternoons this week. The uneven, sometimes sloppy, trail makes my legs more sore, but I don’t mind it too much. I slipped today on a patch of ice as I ran up from the road to the sidewalk. I didn’t fall–or even feel like I might–just felt that brief loss of control. I couldn’t get that close to the river but I was able to catch a very brief glimpse of it through the trees as I ran on the highest part of Edmund. It looked white and covered–is it, or are there still open spots? No sun to make it sparkle or dance. It looked flat and still. Listened to a black-capped chickadee–it was difficult to hear over the roar of the city. It has been so loud these last few days–is it the air quality? What does humidity (80%) do to sound? I looked it up, and yes, humid air makes sound travel farther. I think I heard some helicopters–does it have to do with any protests? Anything else? Noticed someone over on the river road trail wearing a bright orange shirt–or was it shorts? I can’t remember now. Heard someone (thankfully 20 or 30 feet away) vigorously coughing. Saw a few dogs–identified them more from the clanging of their collars than actually seeing them. Felt strong and fast and happy as I headed back north on Edmund.

a moment of sound

I like the idea of doing a moment of sound everyday, but I don’t always want to run everyday and I only want to post on days when I run (mostly for the calendar so I can quickly glance at it and see which days I ran in a month, and which days I didn’t). So I’m trying to figure out how to post the moments. For now, I’ll post the non-run day moments of sound on the next running day (how boring was that explanation, future Sara?):

For yesterday’s moment of sound, I was sitting on the deck, with only a sweatshirt on, feeling the warm sun on my face, listening to the snow melting off the eaves. Such a nice moment!

jan 5, 2021

For today’s moment of sound, I stopped right after I finished running (listen for my heavy breathing). For the first half, I stood on the sidewalk, holding my phone out, listening to the birds and the roar of a plane. For the second half, I started walking and sniffing and making the delightful sound of crunching snow. If you listen carefully, you can hear the crunch sound change a little as I move from mostly snow to a stretch of ice.

jan 6, 2021

Yesterday, while cleaning out my safari reading list, I found this great poem from last year–or the year before?

notes on winter holidays/ daniel biegelson

Even you are responsible
to more than you. My daughter likes visiting
the pet store. It’s like a zoo she says. She wants
a calico she can walk with a string. On the way
home she says do we sing poems before we light candles.
‘Not to see by but to look at.’ On one level,
the mind doesn’t impose order. The mind
doesn’t impose order. Order presumes
priority. Good credit score. A forwarding address.
My bills accumulate in empty spaces.
My subject position won’t stand still.
On one level, we are not casual acquaintances.
Imagine we are pressed upon one another.
For a while we lived on the second story
above The Leader Store just down the street
from The Woolworth, which still had a griddle
and a soda fountain and smelled of melted butter.
I am not nostalgic. No need. I can still remember
the photographs. I am a frame. Sometimes
a window enclosing and disclosing. We take
the subway to the museum exchanging yous
through the tunnel and into the terminal. Imagine
we are pressed against each other. ‘Mingled breath
and smell so close’ The silver doors. A cell membrane.
You are a witness only to what you admit. Some words
emit so many possibilities they threaten to burst.
What is light. What is rain. Now a metaphor.
Take two and answer in the morning. We look
and do more than look. My daughter says
you talk with your eyes off. Why should everything
we see interact with light. I am counting
clouds destined for Florida. I moved the store here.
This is inescapably common. Where is here. Will you pray
with me. Pray with your feet on the pavement.
When she was born we didn’t know if she would ever
walk. Now my daughter says my whole body is a winter
storm as she leaps across the couch cushions. No digging
out. The self is a reintegration of exponential
apologies—a crowd of people in multi-colored coats
holding handmade signs and choosing to sit or stand
in the same world. After you. No, I insist. After you.

Some favorite lines for today:

I am not nostalgic. No need. I can still remember
the photographs. I am a frame. Sometimes
a window enclosing and disclosing.

My daughter says
you talk with your eyes off. Why should everything
we see interact with light. I am counting
clouds destined for Florida.

Favorite parts of words: the ts in tunnel and terminal, the pleasing rhyme in admit and emit,

jan 2/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 1.5 miles
basement

Took a walk with Scott and Delia this morning. Cold. It always feel colder when I’m walking than when I’m running. Frozen fingers but no frozen face with my mask on. Nice. Heard some black-capped chickadees and crows and many other birds that I couldn’t identify. Also heard the dog that moans–the one that I heard this summer and told Scott about but that we’ve never been able to hear again until now. Yes! I wanted to record the sound but I found restarted–too cold? not enough charge? I was hoping to make that my moment of sound, but I couldn’t. Instead, I stood outside on my deck, a few minutes later, and recorded the neighborhood noises. A “chickadeedeedee,” a “caw caw”–I remember, but I can’t quite make it out on the recording, a feebee call at the end. Someone dropping down the lid of their garbage can. The low, steady hum of the city underneath it all.

jan 2, 2021

I am hoping to keep this habit up of recording about a minute of sound every day this month–or this year? I’m tagging them, a moment of sound

dec 30/BIKERUN

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

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

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

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

dec 29/BIKERUN

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

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

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

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

dec 24/RUN

3.25 miles
treadmill, basement

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

1000 miles!

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

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

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

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

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

dec 18/RUN

2.6 miles
neighborhood
33 degrees

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

ABECEDARIAN FOR THE DANGEROUS ANIMALS/ Catherine Peirce

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

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

dec 17/RUN

2.75 miles
loop around Hiawatha
24 degrees

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

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

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

How It Happens/ W.S. Merwin

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

dec 15/RUN

3 miles
neighborhood
18 degrees / feels like 9

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

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

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

sleep

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

Marjorie/ Taylor Swift

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

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

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

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

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

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

dec 9/BIKERUN

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

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

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

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

dec 4/RUN

2.5 miles
neighborhood
38 degrees

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

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

Richard Siken is the Best

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

Real Estate/ Richard Siken

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

About this poem

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

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

dec 3/RUN

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

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

Critter Sighting!

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

Discovered this awesome poem about a woodpecker this morning:

A woodpecker’s/ PHILIP GROSS

working the valley
or is it the other way round?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nov 30/RUN

3.15 miles
turkey hollow
20 degrees/feels like 13

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

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

layers I shed: hood, 1 pair of gloves

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

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

Delight of the Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cold Morning/ Eamon Grennan

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

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

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

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

in which all the warmth we were is shivering.

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

nov 29/BIKERUN

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

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

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

A Divine Image/ William Blake – 1757-1827

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

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

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

And another one:

The Fly/ William Blake – 1757-1827

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

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

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

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

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

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

nov 25/RUN

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

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

Running Surfaces

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

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

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

a Secretary Bird from twitter

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

nov 22/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.25 miles
treadmill, basement

Thursday evening, sitting on the floor with my legs stretched straight in front of me, not doing any sudden movements, just talking with my family, my kneecap slid out of its groove. I was able to slip it back in by walking up and down the stairs. It was slightly disconcerting but I wasn’t too unsettled. A few minutes later, sitting on the floor still not moving, it slipped out again. This time it didn’t want to pop back in on the steps so I had to push it back in place. No big injury, just a slightly swollen knee that I iced three times (R.I.C.E) on Friday. Still, it bothered me. It is very upsetting to not have any warning and not be doing anything dramatic–no sharp turns or sudden stops or strange stretches–and suddenly have your kneecap slide out of place. You worry, when will it happen again? Will I be walking somewhere and my kneecap will suddenly give out?

I took a break from running on Friday and yesterday I only biked in the basement. Today, I decided to try a mile. My knee–the right one–felt a little strange, but it was fine. I’m not sure if overuse causes something in the patellar femoral groove to get messed up which then leads to subluxations or if it’s entirely random. I’m betting on overuse, so I’m happy to take a few more days off each month. Oh the challenge of living in a wonderful yet fragile, faltering body!

I am almost done with my mood ring project. I’ve posted a few of the poems on my writing site and I’m currently working on a short piece about the process and my methods for crafting the poems. I am proud of my work–the work of experimenting, thinking through, researching and the finished product. Hopefully I can share it more widely with others.

nov 19/RUN

4 miles (1 with FWA, 3 by myself)
river road trail + turkey hollow
46 degrees

FWA had to run for online gym class this morning, so we went out together. Yes! I always enjoy getting to run with him even if we do more walking than running. As we ran + walked, we smelled a lot of things: meat, soap, almost burnt toast, thawing half-mulched leaves. FWA recounted a childhood memory of tasting blueberry syrup and hating it so much that we never wanted to return to the restaurant where he tried it. I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted blueberry syrup but I imagine it’s gross. After dropping FWA back off at home, I went out for another run. We had run north, to I went south. Such a wonderful time to be running above the river! All the leaves gone, so much view! Hardly any wind, some sun. No ice, not too many people. For most of my run, I listened to the sounds around me but for the last mile I turned on a playlist and tuned everything else out.

For a short stretch of time after the election, I enjoyed checking the news. Now, it’s time to avoid it again. I believe in December when the electoral college meets, this will all be worked out. Until then I can’t get sucked into the daily shit show of contesting results, lawsuits, threats of violence, etc. Instead, I’ll spend more time by the gorge and with poems like this:

In the Evening/ William Reichard

The night air is filled
with the scent of apples,
and the moon is nearly full.

In the next room, Jim
is reading; a small cat sleeps
in the crook of his arm.

The night singers are loud,
proclaiming themselves
every evening until they run

out of nights and die in
the cold, or burrow down into
the mud to dream away the winter.

My office is awash in books
and photographs, and the sepia/pink
sunset stains all its light touches.

I’ve never been a good traveler,
but there are days, like this one,
when I’d pay anything to be in

another country, or standing on
the cold, grey moon, staring back
at the disaster we call our world.

We crave change, but
turn away from it.
We drown in contradictions.

Tonight, I’ll sleep
blanketed in moonlight.
In my dreams, I’ll have

nothing to say about anything
important. I’ll simply live my life,
and let the night singers live theirs,

until all of us are gone.
I won’t say a word, and let
silence speak in my stead.

I like the simple, graceful form of this poem, how it flows, and how it captures and expresses so many contradictions. I’d like to try out this form in some poem about the gorge.

nov 17/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.15 miles
treadmill, basement

It wasn’t too cold or too icy but I decided to take a break from an outdoor run this morning. Took a slightly longer walk with Delia instead. It was sunny and calm with wonderfully cold air. I loved breathing in it as I walked Delia around several blocks. Ah, winter air!

I biked and briefly ran in the afternoon. Listened to a “You’re Wrong About” podcast on the electoral college as I biked, Taylor Swift as I ran. I was inspired to listen to Taylor Swift after encountering a great twitter thread on rhetorical devices in Swift’s lyrics. Very cool and useful. Might have to try out some of these devices.

I liked exercising in the afternoon. It helps me feel less sleepy. Maybe I should try it some more?

nov 14/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 2.4 miles

It wasn’t too cold, but it’s Saturday, which is more crowded, and it’s icy, which is more difficult when it’s crowded, so I decided to work out in the basement. Couldn’t find anything to watch while I biked so I started listening to a “You’re Wrong About” podcast episode. I need to find something like “Cheer” or “Selling Sunset” to watch. As I ran I listened to music. Tried to start with Schoolhouse Rock but I determined that multiplication rock is not that motivating when you’re running on a treadmill in the basement. Switched to my playlist and ran faster to “Eye of the Tiger” and “Black Wizard Wave.” Don’t remember thinking about much or noticing anything. I got lost in the steady striking of my feet. That’s cool.

This afternoon we (all five of us) took a drive. Near the end we drove on east river road, beside the path that I take for the ford loop. So beautiful with an amazing view! It makes me want to run this loop soon. I’m thinking I might stop at several of the overlooks. Maybe Monday?

Saw this poem on twitter. Oh, Marie Howe, I love you!

The Copper Beech/ MARIE HOWE

Immense, entirely itself, 
it wore that yard like a dress, 

with limbs low enough for me to enter it 
and climb the crooked ladder to where 

I could lean against the trunk and practice being alone. 

One day, I heard the sound before I saw it, rain fell 
darkening the sidewalk. 

Sitting close to the center, not very high in the branches, 
I heard it hitting the high leaves, and I was happy, 

watching it happen without it happening to me.

nov 8/RUN

3 miles
around the neighborhood
58 degrees

BIDEN DEFEATS TRUMP! Such a wonderful, needed headline. Sitting upstairs at my desk, working on my poem in the late morning yesterday, Scott called out, “He did it” or “It’s over” or “He won,” I can’t remember which. I started walking down the stairs, stopped, then began to cry. So much relief and joy. It will take weeks for all the fear and despair to leak out, I think. I recognize this is not the end of all that, just the beginning of a renewed hope in the world and the belief that we can avoid the darkest timeline.

Very windy and warm this morning. Noticed my shadow a few times. She’s very excited about Biden and Harris (Harris!) winning too–I could see it in how she held her frame as she ran. Listened to a playlist and felt happy to be outside moving. I wore shorts. I might be able to do that again tomorrow, but after that it’s running tights. We might get snow on Tuesday.

Admired the sparkling river as I ran above on Edmund. I can’t wait until I can run by the river again without worrying about getting too close to people. Next spring?

Scrolling through twitter, one of my favorite poetry people just tweeted: An open gate. Love it! Possibility…not guaranteed, but a chance to enter a new world, a new era, somewhere other than where we’ve been for the past 4 years. Reminds me of a poem I memorized this summer (and have already almost forgotten, sadly…I’ll have to review it a few times):

The Gate/ MARIE HOWE

I had no idea that the gate I would step through
to finally enter this world

would be the space my brother’s body made. He was
a little taller than me: a young man

but grown, himself by then,
done at twenty-eight, having folded every sheet,

rinsed every glass he would ever rinse under the cold
and running water.

This is what you have been waiting for, he used to say to me.
And I’d say, What?

And he’d say, This—holding up my cheese and mustard sandwich.
And I’d say, What?

nov 3/RUN

1.5 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south
45 degrees

Last week I felt some pain in my lower pelvic bone. Very slight but I’m not taking any chances as I try finally (after 3 past attempts) to run 1000 miles in a year. I think it’s a very early/mild case of osteitis pubic. The treatment? Nothing but rest. So I didn’t run on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. Today I decided to try a short run. Went for a mile and a half before I felt a slight twinge. No worries. I stopped, happy to have had the chance to run outside on this beautiful morning!

Listened to a playlist that I’m choosing to believe is a good omen for the election results. I hadn’t looked at any of the songs before I picked it; I just scrolled through my list and chose it randomly. It’s from 2014.

Playlist for a Better Tomorrow

  • I’m Going To Go Back There Someday/Gonzo
  • Don’t Dream It’s Over/ Crowded House
  • I Made It Through the Rain/ Barry Manilow
  • Another One Bites the Dust/ Queen
  • The Best of Times/ Styx
  • Gonna Fly Now/ Bill Conti

Since it’s November, here’s my favorite November poem. I am the crazy woman in November! (although it’s not quite fitting today because it’s sunny and warm; it might get up into the 60s today!)

The Crazy Woman by Gwendolyn Brooks

I shall not sing a May song.
A May song should be gay.
I’ll wait until November
And sing a song of gray.

I’ll wait until November
That is the time for me.
I’ll go out in the frosty dark
And sing most terribly.

And all the little people
Will stare at me and say,
“That is the Crazy Woman
Who would not sing in May.”

oct 26/BIKERUN

bike: 15 minutes
bike stand, basement

The first time biking since last April. Left my bike on the stand all summer, didn’t bike outside at all, partly because of the pandemic, partly because of my vision. My tires were totally flat. Started watching Enola Holmes. Not sure yet if I like it.

run: 1.75 miles
treadmill, basement

It wasn’t too cold or icy or windy outside but I felt like staying inside so I ran downstairs. Listened to a time capsule playlist on Spotify: She Don’t Use Jelly; Sabotage; Kiss; Freedom. If I would have kept going I could have also heard Cake’s I will Survive and Deee-Lite’s Groove is in the Heart. Oh well. Next time. I don’t remember thinking about much as I ran. My mind was shut off. I enjoyed the repetition and the movement and the absence of everything else.

For some reason, I’m feeling tired and unmotivated today. Maybe it’s because I’ve finished five mood ring poems and I’m not sure if I want to write anymore. I’m very happy with them. Sometime soon I’d like to write about the process of creating them.

oct 25/RUN

3.15 miles
turkey hollow
28 degrees
snow flurries

Another colder day with some snow flurries. Ran by turkey hollow. Forgot to check for turkeys. Distracted by a dog with its owner on the far sidewalk. I do remember wondering (again) where the turkeys go in the snow. Are they up in the trees? Listened to a playlist as I ran. Started on the trail right above the river but when I encountered some people, crossed over to the grass between the river road and edmund. Cold, hard, packed dirt with some snow in the ruts. Not too difficult to run on. Yesterday’s snow was wet and steady, today’s was intermittent flurries swirling in the wind and in my face as I ran north. Noticed at least one bike but no fat tires or roller skiers. No groups of runners. No peloton on the road. Anything else? Noticed that I had a clearer view of the Oak Savanna. I wonder if one of my favorite winter views is clear? It’s the spot where the hill in the Savanna slopes down and suddenly the river appears.

Surfaces I Ran On

  • clear sidewalk
  • cold, hard road–I could hear my feet loudly striking the pavement
  • yellow leaves slightly slick with snow
  • green leaves, thick and soft
  • rutted, hard dirt
  • brittle grass

Watching the Vuelta a España with Scott. Today Primož Roglič crapped out on the final climb and lost the red jersey. Bummer. So strange to be watching a bike race while it’s snowing. It looked very wet and cold for the cyclists as they climbed the mountains.

Here’s a poem I discovered this morning. So lovely with such quiet grace.

Beginning/ JAMES WRIGHT

The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.   
The dark wheat listens.
Be still.
Now.
There they are, the moon’s young, trying
Their wings.
Between trees, a slender woman lifts up the lovely shadow
Of her face, and now she steps into the air, now she is gone
Wholly, into the air.
I stand alone by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe
Or move.
I listen.
The wheat leans back toward its own darkness,
And I lean toward mine.