feb 16/BIKERUN

bike: 15 min warm-up
run: 1.5 miles

Finished the 2nd episode of season 1 of Dickinson, started the 3rd while biking. I’m really appreciating the audio descriptions. So much easier to watch shows! I’m also surprised at how normal/natural/not disruptive the audio descriptions are. Is it that way for people with good vision? I’ll have to ask Scott after we watch something with AD turned on.

Listened to a winter playlist while I ran. Just a short run to burn off some restlessness, to rest my eyes from reading/writing, and to add to my weekly total of miles.

Before the run, I worked on another image for my “how I see”project. Maybe I should take the 3 I’ve already done and do more with them?

 My view from above the gorge: bare limbed trees, all trunk and thin branches. A few trunks are thick — like the one near the center of the image or the one leaning on the left side — but most are thin, creating a transparent screen between runner (me) and river.
8 feb 2024

original description: My view from above the gorge: bare limbed trees, all trunk and thin branches. A few trunks are thick — like the one near the center of the image or the one leaning on the left side — but most are thin, creating a transparent screen between runner (me) and river. The ground, in the bottom third of the picture, is mostly dead, curled-up brown leaves. Sometimes, this is what I see even when there aren’t thin, bare branches everywhere — my view slightly obscured by something in the way — dead cone cells, I think — creating fuzz or static or a slight pulsing or wavering of lines. Also, if this picture were in black and white I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Often I have to ask Scott: is this in color or black and white?

5 nouns/ 5 adjectives / 5 verbs

nouns: tree, trunks, leaves, river, twigs, bank, bramble, sky, veil, net, screen
adjectives: brown, thin, thick, pale, blue, gray, soft. cluttered, tangled, obscured, disoriented
verbs: blocking, concealing, decaying, settled, crowding (out), decomposing, swirling

one sentence about the most important thing in image: This cluttered view of bare trunks and thin branches creates a screen between runner (me) and river and resembles what I sometimes see even when there aren’t thin, bare branches everywhere — my view obscured by something in the way, that I can’t move, that keeps the real (focused, clear, open) view just out of reach.

a second sentence about the second most important thing: The image is only of swirling forms — tree, leaf, river — as my eye struggles (and fails) to land on solid lines, instead bouncing from branch to trunk to leafy floor to river to sky to branch again. (This cramped, thickly tangled space overwhelms my eyes and my brain.)

a third sentence about the third most important thing: With its bare ground and dead leaves, it looks like this picture should be of the gorge in November or April, but it was taken in one of the first Februarys without at least 1/2 foot of snow on the ground. 

The most important thing about this image is how the branches create a net which mimics how my vision often works — I can almost see what’s there, but not quite. Secondary, but connected, is the feeling of being disoriented, off, almost but not quite, untethered, which comes from swirling forms and the climate crisis — there’s almost always snow on the ground here in February. Where are my Minnesota winters?

feb 15/BIKERUN

bike: warm-up
run: 3 miles
outside: 4 inches of snow

Snow! Finally. My first real shovel session of the winter. Thought briefly about running outside on the trail, but when Scott told me he had heard the city hadn’t plowed the bike path, I decided against it. I watched more of the first episode of Dickinson with the audio description on while I biked. Listened to my winter playlist while I ran. I blocked the display panel, so I wouldn’t know the time. When I finally checked, I thought it would be 15 minutes at the most. It was 25. Wow.

Watching/listening to the audio description, it was interesting to notice when/how they chose to describe something and when they didn’t. An example: In one scene, Sue is sitting in the parlor. We see her looking and pointing, then we see a basket with a letter in it hanging outside of the window. Sue says, Austin. Look. At this point, the audio description (AD) says, Sue points to a hanging basket. Austin opens the basket and removes a small envelope addressed to Sue. I was struck by the AD choice to wait to describe Sue’s pointing until after the action was over. Something — poetic whimsy? — was lost in not describing Sue’s strange pointing — it seemed, at least to me, almost comical. Should it have been described? I’m not sure; I mention it to highlight how ADs involve choices of what to include or not include, often for clarity or brevity.

I must have still been thinking about this choice to not immediately describe the pointing while I was running because I suddenly had an idea about the significance of what my image descriptions leave out. I wanted to remember my thought so I pulled out my phone to record it, but the audio is messed up and I can’t understand what I’m saying. Bummer. My descriptions will be explicitly subjective. I want to emphasize how we always make choices when describing what we’re seeing — what’s important and what’s not. Our brains do this too when we’re seeing — it’s called filtering.

before the run

While rereading an entry from this day (15 feb) in 2022, I discovered that past Sara had been thinking about alt-text as poetry. I mentioned wanting to create alt-text for my beloved mannequin photos and posted some links:

I’ve already started using the first link. Just now, I read through the twitter thread. Very helpful! Here are some highlights — BTW, putting together these notes has used up a lot of my visual “spoons” for the day.

Not describing everything, but getting to why the image is there:

I think people who find providing alt text overwhelming think too much about describing every last detail in the image, when it’s more like, ok, why did YOU post it? …focus on why you’re posting the image or what it’s supposed to do or how other people would recognize it

Alt-text predates “accessibility”:

“alt” here is short for “alternate” and originates from HTML—back in Ye Olde Days if an image took 10 minutes to load or otherwise broke, you’d provide alt text that the browser would display in place of the image so you still knew what was going on

different than an image description, alt-text is only for necessary images, not decorative ones:

and alt text is different from image descriptions; alt text describes the purpose of the image and isn’t typically included if something is purely decorative—but do note that even a gif for example carries semantic meaning and is thus NOT purely decorative

intended to be brief

alt text is meant to be short, as it would get cut off by the image bounding edges otherwise

example of alt-text vs. image description

alt text for a chart: “Graph showing increase in alt text use on Twitter”
image description for a chart: “A graph titled ‘Increase in alt text use on Twitter.’ The y-axis shows percentage of images including alt text. The x-axis shows time in years from 2008–2022…”

craft it

don’t be afraid to put your personality into alt text or be funny or use alt text to extend your shitpost, like imagine using a screenreader & your entire TL is dry descriptions until “a dog so cute I screeched” appears

look to audio descriptions for good examples of image description and using brevity

I think there’s a lot to learn from audio descriptions too for how to provide alt text & image descriptions! try turning on audio descriptions on a show or movie and observe how to pack in detail, especially given the time constraints—you only have a few seconds to describe smtg — boba fett’s audio descriptions are amazing, they’re wonderfully evocative while also including details I wouldn’t have known, not being a star wars fan (like they note that the palace is jabba’s and name which character’s helmet he picks up)

it’s subjective

accessibility is a fluid concept that depends a lot on audience; there’s no one “best” way to write alt text or an image description, because fundamentally it’s about what details other people care about, and that will change across topics and groups

an extended example of using alt-text to further/enhance the story

I am DYING, here is an incredible example of alt text augmenting the experience for someone using accessibility features—it calls out only the visual features that are important (’90s aesthetic, scalloped border) and provides the context that makes this reply hilarious

Katherine Crighton

Screencapture of a Denny’s tumblr ad. Of key interest, aside from its very 1990s aesthetic, is the scalloped border around the ad–at the time, it was intended by Tumblr’s parent company to denote to casual readers that the contents within the border were a paid advertisement. Specifically, only those who had paid for space would be granted the scalloped border. Denny’s, the restaurant chain and purveyor of surreal humor on social media, demonstrated with this ad that while the intent was to monetize this border, in actuality all one had to do was take a screencap, drop in your own ad, and then post the resulting image via the normal, non-monetized process– it would then appear the same way to the end-user, whether or not Tumblr’s owner recieved a dime. This method of deriving ad income was dropped shortly after the Denny’s “ad” pointed out this flaw.

Some very helpful ideas in this thread —

the why/purpose is the focus. In my “how I see” images, I’m not interested in describing everything in the image — I probably can’t because of my limited vision, but the ways it serves as an example of “how I see.” I’m also interested in bringing some elements of ekphrasis into this — what are those? I need to spend more time thinking about that!

the idea of brevity. I’d like to make these descriptions short. I think it might be helpful for my creative process to pick a meaningful number of characters or words or syllables. I’ll think about that some more.

listening to audio descriptions for guidance — I think I’ll bike this morning and watch/listen to a Dickinson episode! I did!

a ramble of thoughts:

thought one: Recently, I’ve started proof-reading my poems by listening as the screen reader reads them. I noticed that the speaker (mine is Fred — according to system preferences on my mac) can do enjambments (a sentence split up over multiple lines) when the sentence is at the beginning of the line. But when the sentence begins in the middle of a line, Fred pauses at the end of that line and reads the next line as a new sentence. Enjambment is much more a visual device. My alt-text poems should not use visual devices, but rely on aural ones. What are these? I know rhyme, meter, alliteration, assonance. Time to study! I’ll start with my Mary Oliver poetry handbook!

thought two: I’m just remembering a great line from June Jordan in her guidelines for critiquing a poem:

Punctuation (Punctuation is not word choice. Poems fly or falter according to the words composing them. Therefore, omit punctuation and concentrate on every single word. E.g., if you think you need a question mark then you need to rewrite so that your syntax makes clear the interrogative nature of your thoughts. And as for commas and dashes and dots? Leave them out!)

So, try writing my descriptions without punctuation. BUT, I’m also thinking of Dickinson and how important punctuation (em dashes, for example) were for her. How could I use punctuation to shape how Fred speaks my words?

thought three (barely formed): One feature of many ekphrastic poems is a contentious/combative dialogue between word and image. What about twisting that to push at the conflicts between hearing a word versus seeing an image?

All these thoughts might be too much, and might not lead anywhere I want to go, but I’ll keep with them for a little bit longer. I was just telling Scott last night, or was it this morning?, that I appreciate how past Sara includes discussions of intended plans. Sometimes I don’t act on these plans — and maybe it seems like I have too many ideas or that I’m all over the place, or that I’m not following through — but it’s cool to be able to trace the origins of the projects that do happen. And the plans that I didn’t act upon? Maybe I just not ready for them yet.

a few hours later:

Here are some notes from Bojana Coklyat in Conversation with Shannon Finnegan:

we can get more out it alt-text than just compliance:

SF: Something that has always been a hope of mine with the project is that for people who aren’t as familiar with access, it introduces them to a way of thinking about access as creative and generative and collaborative and process-oriented, and that might also influence the way they think about access in other parts of their lives.

BC: Alt text is so often approached through the lens of compliance, like, Okay, let’s just get this done. But when you’re paying attention to the language you’re using and how you’re putting it together, that’s already changing things. That’s already shifting things.

space and symbolism

BC: I was talking to Chancey Fleet, who works at the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library in New York, and Chancey said something to me and I was just like, Whoa, I have to really think about that. She said, “Is it that we really live in such a visual culture? Is the most important thing visual, or is it space and symbolism?”

I was thinking about that all day yesterday. And going back to this exhibit I went to yesterday, there was a metal piece that kind of looked like scaffolding or architecture. And then we had the chance to walk through it, and it was like, Yeah, this is the experience. It’s walking through it and understanding the space of it. It’s not necessarily, OK, this part’s five feet tall, it’s metal, and it intersects with this piece that’s metal. It was so much more about walking through it, navigating it, and even navigating it with someone.

I think that might be something I’ll start to think about more with alt text: symbolism and space and how those fit in when you’re describing something.

SF: I love that idea of thinking about symbolism. I often find that in descriptions, when someone uses a metaphor or a comparison, it really helps me understand what the subject of the description is really like, and that feels really related to this idea of symbolism. It’s like: What are your associations with this thing, rather than just with how 

jan 19/BIKERUN

bike: 10 minute warm-up
run: 4 miles
treadmill, basement
outside: 6 degrees, feels like -7

Because I was sick earlier this week, I’m being cautious and not running outside when the feels like temp is below 0. Running on the treadmill isn’t as interesting, but it is helping me to keep my heart rate down.

Watched a Hot Ones while I biked, listened to the audiobook for The Woman in the Window (in honor of windows month!) for almost 3 miles, then my winter playlist for the last mile.

The run felt easy and not too tedious. I looked over at my shadow — a giant head swaying. I think I saw the shadow of my ponytail swinging a few times. When I looked again, I lost my balance a little and stepped off the side briefly. Oops.

In The Woman in the Window, Anna is agoraphobic and has been stuck in her fancy house for 10, or was it 11?, months. She keeps her windows shut tight and spies/watches/looks at her neighbors through them (with the help of a high-powered camera lens). In the chapter I just heard (18), a woman she is watching, Jane Russell, looks back and waves, which freaks Anna out. She realizes that just as she watches others, they could be watching her.

side note: I know very little about this story other than that someone is murdered, Anna sees it, and no one believes her. Listening to this chapter and being introduced to Jane Russell, I’m guessing she’s the one getting murdered. I’m also getting the feeling that not only will people not believe that Anna saw the murder, they won’t believe that Jane Russell is real. She’s just Anna’s drunk/over-drugged hallucination. Am I right, or have I seen The Lady Vanishes too many times (thanks 1980s HBO!) Continuing with Lady Vanishes vibes, I’m wondering if the small portrait Jane sketched of Anna that she hastily shoved in her drawer will be proof (if to no one else, at least to herself) that she’s not making it up! Jane does/did exist! In The Lady Vanishes it’s the message written in the fog on the window, or the sugar packet that proves the little old lady who vanished actually exists — am I remembering that right? I think I’m conflating the 1938 original with the 80s remake here. Anyway, I’m probably wrong about Jane not being real. She has a son who can verify her existence. It was the random moment when Jane sketches Anna that made me think of this scenario. Future Sara, let me know after you’ve finished the book!

update from feb 1st Sara: A lot of what I thought was right, but not quite. Lots of slight twists. For example, everyone believes Anna exists, but she’s someone else. The portrait does come up and does reinvigorate Anna’s flagging belief in what she thinks she saw, but it doesn’t serve as an a-ha moment or matter much to others. And all the stuff with the son? I probably shouldn’t have been, but it surprised me.

In addition to the actual windows in her house, there’s also the window of the computer screen. After she waves back at Anna, Jane comes over and they talk. Jane asks Anna what she does in the house all day. Anna describes the chatroom she participates on and the french lessons she takes online. Then Jane calls the computer, “her window to the world.” The window as Windows (mircrosoft) has come up in my exploration of windows and their meanings alreadyearlier today even, when I was reading the Part 2 article I mention a few paragraphs below.

Magritte and windows

(written before the run) On the 15th, while rereading entries from that day in past years (thanks to Scott’s “On This Day” plug-in!), I encountered a great vision poem that I had read before, but not that closely, I guess, because I missed how much it spoke to me and my experience with vision loss. The poem: Ekphrasis as Eye Test/ Jane Zwart. And the verse that particularly spoke to me was this:

Other losses begin in the middle of the field:
redacting the kiss at a picture’s center–
wrapping lovers’ heads in pillow slips; hovering doves
at eye level anywhere hatted men stand.
They could be anyone, the strangers Magritte painted
almost as their mothers, maculas wasted, would see them.

  • the kiss, lovers’ heads in pillow slips: The Lovers
  • the dove and the hatted man: Man in a Bowler Hat
  • Magritte’s mother killed herself by jumping off a bridge when he was 13. When her body was found days later, her nightgown was wrapped around her head (I can’t remember where I read that — found it!)

When I read these lines, I didn’t immediately get the references I mentioned above, but I did recognize the featureless faces and wasted maculas in my own vision. I recall liking Magritte exhibit when I was kid — I had a poster of the business men floating in the sky — but I hadn’t thought about him much since.

I inherited my mom’s copy of a 1992 exhibition she saw at the Art Institute of Chicago, but I hadn’t looked through it much, if at all. I picked it up and saw the cover — his painting with a train emerging from a fireplace — and thought: Charles Bonet Syndrome! CBS happens to some people as they lose their central vision; it often involves strange hallucinations. I read about people seeing waterfalls coming out of skyscrapers, old carriages coming down the street, and a dozen cooked eggs on a fireplace mantel. A train emerging from a fireplace seems to fit in these.

The cover of Magritte book. At the center, a fireplace with a black train, steam coming out of the top, emerging from its center. On the mantel, a clock. And behind that, a big mirror. In the bottom right corner, the book title: Magritte
Magritte on my desk, next to Forrest Gander’s “Circumambulation of Mt. Tamalpas” under the glass

Of course, there are other meanings intended with this train, but I immediately saw it as CBS hallucination. Looking through the book at all the featureless faces and faces obscured by apples and doves, I recognized my own inability to see faces. Very cool.

This morning I decided to dig into Magritte a little more. I discovered (or maybe remembered) that one of his reoccurring themes was windows — fitting for this month’s theme! Fearing copyright issues (I’ve been burned before), I’m not posting any of the images here. Instead, go here for examples: Magritte windows.

In my brief research (googlin’), I found this: Part 2: Magritte’s Window Paintings. At the end of the post there’s an article on the symbolism of windows, with some useful descriptions:

This intimate relation between the window, seeing, and perception (cf. eye/gaze) has become part of everyday language: the eyes as windows to the soul (or heart, or mind) [1] point out the possibility of looking inside a person through the opening of his eyes, where an inner state is reflected.

note: 1 The notion of  the ‘eyes as the window to the psyche’ goes back at least to a text by the Skeptic philosopher Sextus Empiricus (2nd century A.D), who might be citing an even earlier text. Cf. Carla Gottlieb. The Window in Art. From the Window of God to the Vanity of Man. A Survey of Window Symbolism in Western Painting (New York: Abaris, 1981), pp.49f.

I’m always searching for references to this phrase as I interrogate the idea that we see each other’s souls, and their humanity, by looking into their eyes.

The window as an opening in a wall refers to an absence which can be filled – by a material (glass, wood, paper, stone), by that which is seen through it, or by something rather immaterial like light or air. If defined as an absence, the window becomes a frame for its variable content, a marker of difference between what is inside and outside.

I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about Nothing lately, so I’ll have to add this idea of absence/frame to my list of ways of understanding the word/concept. Maybe I’ll add it to the series of Nothing poems I’ve been working on, which have emerged from my stripping down and reimagining my Haunts poem.

jan 18/BIKERUN

bike: 10 minute warm-up
run: 3.65 miles
outside temp: 9 degrees / feels like -4

for future Sara: Tuesday night while sitting in the South High band room, listening to the community jazz band rehearse, I suddenly felt sick — a little like I might faint again, hot and tingling all over, very sensitive to loud sounds. Later on the way home in the ridiculously cold car, I had the chills and felt like I might throw up. Went home and straight to bed. Stayed in bed all the next morning. Not covid (I tested), but maybe the flu?

listening to my Window playlist: I Threw a Brick Through a Window/U2

I feel much better — almost normal — today. I’ve decided that I had the flu and the flu shot I got in November prevented it from being more severe (whew!). Of course this experience gave me some mild anxiety — was I sick, or was the faint-feeling signaling some bigger problem? How long would I be sick? At some point, would I have trouble breathing? Sigh — I dislike how much more I worry these days.

Tip Toe Thru’ the Tulips with Me/Annette Hanshaw

Since I felt pretty good today, I decided to try running on the treadmill. After my feet warmed-up in the cold basement, I felt great. Listened to my winter 2024 playlist and covered the panel displaying the time. I kept telling myself, one more song and I’ll check how much time I have left. When I finally checked, the time was at 31 minutes! Very cool; I thought maybe it would at 21 or 22 minutes. I like playing this game when I’m running on the treadmill; much better than staring down at the display.

Open a New Window/Mame Soundtrack

Noticed my shadow running alongside me. Stared at the water heater straight ahead of me: fuzzy and shifting very slightly. Also, the image had some static.

Look Through Any Window/The Hollies

As I write this, I’m making note of the window songs that are playing. It’s a bit difficult and I feel pressure to hurry up and write something before the next song comes on.

Nan You’re a Window Shopper/Lily Allen

In Nan, You’re a Window Shopper Allen complains — is she complaining or lamenting? — about her nan whose life is so constricted — taking a look, but you never buy/ and mad as fuck/only just alive

Window/Fiona Apple

Window/Daniel G. Hoffman

Is is no more than an eyehole
On the outside scene
Making everything
–The snow, the runaway dog,
The boys brawling and the car
Skidding against the tree–
Content to be contained
Within a reasonable frame?
Or could it be

A casement dividing
A real Observer from a view
Of untrammelled possibility,
Its pane connecting
A man in a room in
Steam heat and a battered chair
With his future
Which he could not see
Were it not there?

Window Shopping/Just Derrick

Perhaps it’s the lens that allows
Errant swifts and swallows
In a downward swoop
Of their tumbling flight
To glimpse the man waiting
For the future to happen–
While he’s caged in time
They’re free to look in,
And its gift is insight.

Junk/Paul McCartney

I noticed that Hoffman’s next poem is titled, Door. I’ll have to read that one when I study doors!

From Junk:

Buy, buy, says the sign in the shop window
Why, why? says the junk in the yard

Bust Your Windows/Jazmine Sullivan

I’ll bust the windows out your car
You know I did it ’cause I left my mark
Wrote my initials with a crowbar
And then I drove off into the dark

Maybe I’ll try experimenting with a themed playlist? I could listen and pick out a few lyrics from each song, then write about them, or turn them into a poem?

jan 15/BIKERUN

bike: 15 minute warm-up
run: 3.7 miles
outside: -1 degrees, feels like -18

When I checked the weather earlier the feels like temp was -22 and it has to be feels like -20 or warmer for me to go outside for a run. Would I have gone out there if I knew it had warmed up to feels like -18? Possibly. Oh well, the bike and run inside were fine. I listened to a new playlist I created while I ran and didn’t think about much except for my form — swinging my arms, lifting my hips, keeping my shoulders relaxed and my core sturdy.

I looked up and straight ahead at the water heater in front of me. It was fuzzy in the center. As I looked at it, I noticed my shadow — much bigger than me — off to the side.

Okay, now I remember one thing I thought about: the mouse/mice that live in our basement. Would I see one of them flit by? (nope.)

Looking out my window, I just saw someone run by on the sidewalk. So, someone is willing to run in this cold.

Another thought: before I ran I was thinking about a quote from Theodore Roethke that I posted on jan 15, 2020:

Today there’s no time for the
mistakes of a long and slow
development: dazzle or die.

I wrote about it in an “On this Day: January 15, 2020/2022” page this morning. I was wondering about the value of dazzling in a quick flash versus shimmering with a slow burn. Then these words/ideas popped into my head: flare, flame, a candle burning at both ends, a mushroom erupting and busting through the pavement, moss growing over rocks, fungi nets spreading underground.

I also thought about spending some time on the phrase “slow burn.” Just now I looked it up on Poetry Foundation (search: slow burn) and found a wonderful poem, Over Time by Martha Collins. Here’s one bit of it:

an excerpt from Over Time/ Martha Collins


Then gone and then to come:
all the time, except the split
second, except—

All the time in the world.

And out of this world?

Oh little heart on my wrist,
where are we going?

Oh little heart on my wrist! Yesterday I started listening to a podcast with Jenny Odell about her most recent book on time and I decided that when the book was ready (I requested it from the library), I would finally dedicate some time to clocks and time and other forms of time that don’t involve clocks. Very cool!

jan 13/BIKERUN

bike: 30 minutes
run: 1.15 miles
outside: 7 degrees / feels like -10

A short run today because I’ve run every day this week so far, and because it’s windy and snowy and cold outside. Watched the first 20 minutes of Jennifer Lawrence’s comedy, No Hard Feelings, while I biked. I like her and I’m finding this movie funny so far. I listened to Taylor Swift’s Reputation while I ran. Tried out my new bright yellow shoes for the first time. I like how they feel and how they look. Quite possibly they will be the shoes I wear when I run the marathon next October. I don’t remember thinking about much as I ran — I focused on my arm swing and staying relaxed and lifting my hips. We turned the treadmill the other way a few months ago so now I won’t see my inverted moon on the dark window anymore. What strange image will replace it? I don’t remember any today. But I’ll have to look for one the next time I run on the treadmill, which will probably be on Monday; it might be arctic hellscape cold then.

Emily Dickinson’s Windows

Here are some useful ideas from an article — Emily Dickinson’s Windows — I found yesterday, which seems to be an extended version of an article I read a few days ago:

  • creative freedom
  • architectural prop: By my Window, The Angle of a Landscape
  • her envelope poems resembled a window with curtains
  • a magic lens — the warped quality of 19th century windows: the world let loose, nature liquefied — her practice of looking/writing — up and out the window/down at the paper — descriptions as incremental fragments (A Slash of Blue! A Sweep of Gray!)
  • the window grid creates a pattern — 12 panes — reflected in the formal structure of her poems (degrees, steps, notches, plunges) — each word, line, or stanza is well-defined slot/pane that spotlights an image/emotional state/quality of experience — ’Tis this – invites – appalls – endows – Flits – glimmers – proves – dissolves – Returns – suggests – convicts – enchants Then – flings in Paradise – (Fr 285)
  • an act of undoing in each pane — nature loosening up (a neat frame in a formless center)
  • each pane a diagram of rapture
  • looking through/touching the glass, she connected with the artisans who made it, who left evidence of their labor –warps and striations that were once the artisan’s breath (windows made through glass blowing? wow)
  • glass blowing and imagery of fiery furnaces, metal flames, boiling, white heat
  • mid 19th century — glass consciousness
  • ED’s poems as her own form of glass blowing — creative process of transforming words into poems = making sand into glass into windows

the window grid creates a pattern — 12 panes — reflected in the formal structure of her poems (degrees, steps, notches, plunges) — ’Tis this – invites – appalls – endows – Flits – glimmers – proves – dissolves – Returns – suggests – convicts – enchants Then – flings in Paradise – (Fr 285)

I love this idea of how the windows influenced the form of her writing. Also, the combination of the orderliness/structure of the frame and the unruliness/undoing-ness of her words. It might be fun to use my windows — 2 sets with 2 panes each, a bar in-between the windows, one set in front, one to my right side — as the structure for a few experiments. As I write this, I’m thinking about Victoria Chang’s truck moving across each window frame and Wendell Berry’s black criss-crossed frame.

Here’s a wonderful ED poem that is mentioned in the article:

By my Window have I for Scenery (797) / Emily Dickinson

By my Window have I for Scenery
Just a Sea—with a Stem—
If the Bird and the Farmer—deem it a “Pine”—
The Opinion will serve—for them—

It has no Port, nor a “Line”—but the Jays—
That split their route to the Sky—
Or a Squirrel, whose giddy Peninsula
May be easier reached—this way—

For Inlands—the Earth is the under side—
And the upper side—is the Sun—
And its Commerce—if Commerce it have—
Of Spice—I infer from the Odors borne—

Of its Voice—to affirm—when the Wind is within—
Can the Dumb—define the Divine?
The Definition of Melody—is—
That Definition is none—

It—suggests to our Faith—
They—suggest to our Sight—
When the latter—is put away
I shall meet with Conviction I somewhere met
That Immortality—

Was the Pine at my Window a “Fellow
Of the Royal” Infinity?
Apprehensions—are God’s introductions—
To be hallowed—accordingly—

The pine tree as a sea with a stem? I love this idea!

oct 31/RUN

3 miles
treadmill, basement
35 degrees / feels like 28
windy / earlier, snow

It snowed last night. Maybe 2 inches. I decided to run in the basement instead of going outside in the cold and the wind. While I ran I listened to a You Are Good episode about the horror movie, The Changeling. I’m not familiar with the movie but it’s on the horror movie puzzle we’re working on right now, so I was curious. Now I think I want to see it.

Not much to remember about my run. Can I think of 10 things?

Almost 10 Things

  1. I forgot my headband and even though my hair was pulled back in a ponytail, stray hairs kept flying out and into my face. I think running on the treadmill must cause static
  2. the hairs feel like little spider webs and are annoying
  3. I thought sweat would help tame these hairs, but it didn’t. They kept harassing all through the run
  4. I briefly stepped off the treadmill mid-run to set up the podcast. The belt made a loud whirr that sounded like it might fly off at any minute
  5. sometimes, but not all the time, I forgot my feet were touching the ground and I felt like I was floating
  6. on the podcast they talked about how the main character, George C. Scott, was an old dad — he was in his 50s, but was an old 50s — Sarah Marshall called it a 70s 50s. She also compared him to her dad and said that they were both born smoking cigarettes, which aged them more rapidly
  7. why is that what I remember?
  8. my left hip was a little stiff
  9. treadmills are boring and I kept looking at my watch, hoping the time was going faster

I don’t like running on treadmills that often. We just rejoined the Y for the winter so maybe I won’t have to? If I do, I’d like to do some interesting experiments. Maybe more reciting poetry or listening to more podcasts or audio books?

It’s Halloween, and here’s a wonderful poem in celebration of it:

Ode to Halloween/ Joanne Durham

The Crayola crayon box on skinny legs
squeezes close to the patch-eyed pirate
on my doorstep, goodie bags outstretched

like ours were long ago—We knew
we were the lucky ones, living
in the apartments, where we scored more

M&Ms and Snickers bars in twenty minutes
than the kids in fancy houses did in an hour.
But it wasn’t the candy that enticed us,

most of mine forgotten on the kitchen shelf
for months after the initial gorging.
It was the whole town complicit

with superheroes and monsters, my sister
morphed into a frog in Mom’s t-shirt and
green socks, Mr. Carson dressed in fluorescent

skeleton bones we dashed past to reach
the fairy godmother at the front door,
our faces upturned and open—

We forgot if we were a kid who couldn’t spell,
a boy sprouting acne at nine. We just fastened
a lion’s fuzzy face over our own and roared.

Speaking of Halloween, we have had the same decorations for 6 or 7 years. Cheap Target skeleton lights, a styrofoam tombstone, and hands and a skull that light up and look they’re coming out of the earth. It’s not amazing, but I like decorating a little and it looks cool from down the street. For the past week, the lights haven’t been working and I couldn’t figure out why. Scott finally checked: someone cut the cord. Why? Such a bummer.

oct 13/RUN

3 miles
treadmill, basement
outside: rain, all day

My first treadmill run since last February. Wow. I listened to “Nobody Asked Us,” the podcast with Des Linden and Kara Goucher, and it helped make the time go by faster. Running inside is fine, but rarely inspiring. Sometimes a podcast or audiobook helps.

Can I possibly create a list of 10 things I noticed? I’ll try:

10 Things

  1. My treadmill faces a window that is covered over and under our deck, so no view, only dark emptiness — and the reflection of a lit bulb, looking like a full moon in a starless sky
  2. my feet hurt for the first mile; I think it might be my shoes
  3. I didn’t wear a hat or a headband and fine bits of my hair kept slipping out of my ponytail
  4. at one point these fine strands were standing straight up — static from running on the treadmill?
  5. later, these same strands were wet, dripping with sweat, and plastered against my neck
  6. hard to get into a rhythm at the start; my feet felt heavy
  7. 10 minutes into the run, everything lightened up and I felt like I was floating above the treadmill
  8. several times, my hand hit the front bar — I like to run close to the front
  9. my cheap treadmill works just enough, but not well. It won’t start until the speed is at almost 2, then it goes faster than the speed on the screen. If you adjust the speed too many times, the numbers on the screen get all scrambled. This happened today, and for over half of the run I was staring at strange, squiggly lines instead of numbers
  10. I didn’t hear or see it, but I thought about the mouse (or mice) that are probably sharing space with me down in the basement. I imagined one of them running across my feet

Did it! These things were not really about a place, but about my body. Maybe this winter, when it’s too dangerous to be outside, I should try some experiments with noticing and focusing on my body moving?

Discovered this poem the other day:

It Must Be Leaves/ Jane Hirshfield

Too slow for rain,
too large for tears,
and grief
cannot be seen.
It must be leaves.
but broken
ones, and brown,
not green.

Speaking of the phrase, it must be, I came up with a title for my poem about the color yellow, which ends with the idea that some things will always be yellow, even when I can’t see them. The title? If it’s a banana, it must be yellow. This title was inspired by a science article with the same name: If it’s a banana, it must be yellow: the role of memory colors in color constancy