oct 25/RUN

4.4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
43 degrees

Gray sky, golden trees. Past peak, I think. A clear view to the other side. Damp. It rained yesterday, just enough to get the falls dripping again. The creek was dry, but as I neared the bridge above the ledge, I heard some water falling. At first I thought it was wind in the trees, but then I heard a slow drip drip drip. As I ran above it, I glanced down. Yuck! An unnaturally green pool of stagnant water at the base of the falls.

I had planned to do one of my regular routines: run south to the falls, stop at the overlook near the “song of hiawatha” poem, put in a playlist, run back north with music. Halfway there, I remember that I had misplaced my headphones somewhere. I had found another pair, but not one with the dongle for plugging into my iPhone. I hate how Apple keeps changing their phones so you need new accessories. I don’t want airpods. I want my cheap lime green headphones with a long cord.

Had the memorial service for Scott’s mom yesterday. It definitely has not hit yet that she’s gone. Still in shock, I guess. Last month I felt tender, now just numb. A strange fall.

10 Things I Remember

  1. the very loud vehicle I mentioned a few entries ago is still on edmund. I have decided it is a cement mixture. Today I was over on the river road trail; it was still so loud!
  2. the pavement is wet with a few streaks of mud and lots of yellow leaves
  3. kids yelling joyfully on the playground at dowling elementary
  4. a runner coming fast down the hill from the ford bridge ran past me, quickly gaining ground, eventually disappearing around the bend
  5. the whiny whirr of the park vehicle’s wheels. I can’t remember now what I first thought the sound was — someone/something crying?
  6. a man in yellow jacket, exiting his car, waiting for me to pass before crossing the sidewalk
  7. Mr Morning! mornied me. For the first time, I said hello instead of good morning. Not sure why
  8. some bikers crossing in front of me near the minnehaha park playground
  9. a bright orange sign warning that the road would be closed this saturday for an event: it’s the 1/2 marathon for the halloween race. Scott and I are running the 10k
  10. no turkeys or geese or woodpeckers

Playing around with forms for a new set of vision poems about adjusting, becoming accustomed to my new vision. Today I thought about taking my favorite lines from a few poems — mostly E Dickinson’s vision poems — and embedding them in my own poems, or using the lines as the title for my poem? Still thinking about it. Right now, I’m thinking of a poem about my daughter’s hands as she tells me a story that I’m tentatively titling, The Motion of the Dipping Birds (from ED’s “Before I Got my Eye put out”).

oct 21/RUN

3.35 miles
under the ford bridge and back
57 degrees!

What a morning! Sunny, low wind, only a little sliding in my knee. Noticed the river, but barely. Only a sliver of sparkle through the trees. Ran south and stopped just past the ford bridge. Took out my phone and recorded a note about a possible form for my latest set of vision poems. Listening back to the recording, I’m not sure if it makes sense. Poem 1: block text, bare/basic description of scene/situation; Poem 2: an erasure of that text that reveals more of how I adjust, navigate the situation — maybe by noticing a few key elements?; Poem 3: a haiku/tanka/cinquain that turns my adjustment into something more than almost: a new way of seeing/being? Not sure this makes sense. It’s almost there.

As I recorded, I stood at the edge of the trail, looking down on the marsh-y meadow between the small woods around the bridge and the road leading up to Wabun Park. 2 squirrels darted into the brush, making a racket from dry leaves and tall grass. At the end of summer, I remember running by this meadow and admiring the buzz and growl of the frogs and crickets and whatever else was living in it. Today, it’s pretty quiet. What’s living in there now? Raccoons? Turkeys? A fox?

After recording, I put in Lizzo’s Special, mainly to hear her sing, Hi, mother fucker, did you miss me? I’ve been home since 2020. I’ve been twerkin’ and making smoothies. It’s called healing… Then I started running. Switched to Beyoncé a couple of songs in.

9 Things I Noticed, 1 I Didn’t

  1. the smell of smoke near the one house that always smells like smoke in the winter — on Edmund, close to Dowling
  2. SO LOUD! passing by 2 trucks, about 50 feet from each other, running some sort of machine that was way too loud. I didn’t see, but I hope that the workers nearby were wearing headphones or ear plugs. Wow. I don’t think it was a cement mixer, but I’m not what else it could be — lots of rumbles and roars. Very unsettling
  3. freshly redone sidewalk squares, bright white, sticking out against the old, gray squares
  4. running on the dirt trail between edmund and the river road: a mix of roots and dead leaves and dry dirt
  5. a woman, a kid, a wagon — I think it was red? — heading down to the Winchell Trail at 44th
  6. passing a walker on the “gauntlet” — the dirt/grass patch between the lower campus of Minnehaha Academy and Becketwood that narrows near the road
  7. another loud noise: a rumbling motorcycle overhead, traveling across the ford bridge
  8. a man in a bright yellow shirt, sitting on a bench near a rock above the river
  9. a group of four walkers, one of them wearing a white shirt and black pants, not taking up the entire path
  10. what I didn’t notice: I don’t remember running down the small hill to the part of the trail that dips below the road then climbs back out. As I ran over it again, on my way back, I wondered, what was I doing when I was running on this before? how come I can’t remember anything about it? A moment lost. Love it when that happens

oct 20/RUN

3.1 miles
marshall loop
61 degrees!

Ran with Scott in the late afternoon. Wore shorts and my bright yellow 10 mile race shirt that I’ve been looking for this whole month. Finally found it. Excellent. A nice, relaxed run. Well, mostly relaxed. I was worried about my knees throughout the run because they were complaining a little, but they weren’t sliding so no worries. The thing I remember most about the run is the river. Running across the lake street bridge, heading east, the water was blue and dark and calm, with only very small ripples. Running back, heading west, it looked much rougher, brighter, and the sun was spread across half of it. What a contrast! Same river, different angle, much different view.

Threshold Gods/ Jenny George

I saw a bat in a dream and then later that week
I saw a real bat, crawling on its elbows
across the porch like a goblin.
It was early evening. I want to ask about death.
But first I want to ask about flying.

The swimmers talk quietly, standing waist-deep in the dark lake.
It’s time to come in but they keep talking quietly.
Above them, early bats driving low over the water.
From here the voices are undifferentiated.
The dark is full of purring moths,

Think of it—to navigate by adjustment, by the beauty
of adjustment. All those shifts and echoes.
The bats veer and dive. Their eyes are tiny golden fruits.
They capture the moths in their teeth.

Summer is ending. The orchard is carved with the names of girls.
Wind fingers the leaves softly, like torn clothes.
Remember, desire was the first creature
that few from the crevice
back when the earth and the sky were pinned together
like two rocks.

Now, I open the screen door and there it is-
a leather change purse
moving across the floorboards.

But in the dream you were large and you opened
the translucent hide of your body
and you folded me
in your long arms. And held me for a while.
As a bat might hold a small, dying bat. As

Found this poem on twitter the other day. I don’t totally understand it, but that’s okay. I might get there after a few more readings of it. I picked it for the threshold, the bats, the swimmers in the lake, and these lines, which fit with my current vision project on adjusting and growing accustomed to new ways of seeing/not seeing:

Think of it—to navigate by adjustment, by the beauty
of adjustment. All those shifts and echoes.
The bats veer and dive. Their eyes are tiny golden fruits.
They capture the moths in their teeth.

Adjustments. Shifts and echoes. Always moving — veering and diving. All of this fits so well with my thoughts on seeing and peripheral vision right now!

oct 19/RUN

3.75 miles
trestle turn around + extra
35 degrees

Hooray! I ran again today. I think my kneecap is doing better. It didn’t slide around, and my knee isn’t swollen after my run. It felt strange a few times, and I was apprehensive walking back, but I think it’s okay. I need to remember to take it easy for the next week, and not run too much.

It was a beautiful day for a run. Brisk, sunny, not too much wind. A clear trail, a clear view to the other side. Less leaves, more river. I ran north until I reached 2 miles, then I briefly stopped to put in my headphones and listen to Lizzo’s latest album, Special.

I didn’t notice that much; I was too busy thinking about my knee and wondering if it would start sliding again.

image of the day

A tall bike! Running near the trestle, I noticed that the bike approaching me from the north was extra tall. Because of my vision and because I was looking into the sun, I couldn’t see much detail. All I remember is: an extra tall bike, a male biker. Cool. I looked it up and wikipedia says that these bikes used to be called lamplighters because workers would ride them to reach the gas lamps on city streets. It also says that some people still refer to them as lamplighters. Is that true? I hope so.

I did a little more research — I googled “tall bikes Minneapolis” — and found this cool book (and cool writer/artist): Butterflies and Tall Bikes by Jamie Schumacher:

oin artist and author Jamie Schumacher on a tour of one of Minneapolis’s most unique neighborhoods: The West Bank.

In her second book, Butterflies and Tall Bikes, Schumacher combines personal narrative, compelling interviews, and neighborhood history in vignette-style chapters that paint a picture of the West Bank Business Association and West Bank/Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Detailed, mandala-like illustrations by artist Corina Sagun are interwoven throughout the text, and the book features a cover and map by Minneapolis artist Kevin Cannon. Interviews highlight the stories of West Bank characters and Cedar-Riverside residents, past and present, as they reflect on the community’s changing landscape. 

Lamplighter makes me think of Emily Dickinson’s poem, “We Grow Accustomed to the Dark,” which I decided earlier today would be the focus of new series of vision poems. Lamplighter reminded me of this poem because of the 3rd and 4th lines: As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp/ to witness her Good Bye –. My poems will orbit around the idea of a moment after we enter a new phase/location/situation, and before we adjust to it.

ED’s moment:

We grow accustomed to the Dark —
When Light is put away —
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Good bye —

A Moment — We Uncertain step
For newness of the night —
Then — fit our Vision to the Dark —
And meet the Road — erect —

My moment focuses on the uncertainty caused by my vision — how that uncertainty lasts much longer because of my lack of cone cells, how my brain compensates and adjusts to a lack of visual data, how it feels to (unlike full-sighted people) not have everything immediately make sense or be clear, various tips and tricks I used to grow accustomed, etc. There’s a lot I could do with this: visual illusions, accounts of my mishaps and failures, descriptions of what I see/don’t see, and more.

The last stanza of the poem serves as a big inspiration too:

Either the Darkness alters —
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight —
And Life steps almost straight.

Last year, I spent time thinking about the almost, the approximate. I want to return to that and push more at what it means to dwell longer than I’d like in that almost, not quite, nearly there, only just, space. I’d also like to think more about how vision works, or doesn’t work, or works strangely, for everyone to different degrees. How what we see is not purely objective or accurate, where our eye is a camera faithfully rendering the real. Here’s an article I found yesterday that might help with that: The painter who revealed how our eyes really see the world

Oh, this is exciting! I hope this idea sticks and leads somewhere. I hope I find a form that fits and can hold all of these ideas!

oct 4/RUN

2.5 miles
2 trails
60 degrees

Another colorful fall morning. Noisy, too. So much construction on our block and around the neighborhood. beep beep beep beep brrrrrr brrrrrr. Ran south on the river road and encountered lots of bikes. Noticed how the river was burning a bright white. Got lost in some thoughts about a new form for my vision poems. Forgot to notice the bridge above the ravine in the stretch between 44th and 42nd on the winchell trail. Stopped near the top of the hill at 42nd to speak some ideas into my phone. Ran some more, then stopped again. Do I have some good ideas that can become something? I hope so. I’m interested in experimenting with the peripheral as where I see and the center as a flat landscape/background. Maybe have a flat, lifeless description of the landscape with flashes of more meaningful words sprinkled along the peripheral? I like the idea of making the center a flat, lifeless landscape/background because that’s what my brain does; it fills in a background, like wallpaper. It’s mostly what’s there, but my view doesn’t include any objects that my few cones or my peripheral rods didn’t register. Listening to my notes, I also mention being inspired by the vision tests at the DMV, which have both a mini snellen chart and flashes you have to notice. For years before I was diagnosed, I would have this seemingly irrational fear of the vision test at the DMV. I always wondered why. Now I know. Not sure how to translate these tests into a poetic form.

10 Things I Noticed*

*while not really paying attention to my surroundings

  1. a peleton of younger bikers on the road
  2. a string of older bikers on the trail
  3. a biker swinging wide to mount their bike just as I ran by
  4. a dog barking at me as I swung wide to avoid them and their owner
  5. bright yellow vests
  6. a tree leaning over the dirt trail, which used to be asphalt, just past the 38th street steps
  7. two voices behind me, getting closer when I stopped to speak into my phone
  8. a woman with a dog passing by me X 2
  9. dripping water at the 42nd street sewer pipe
  10. Santa Claus running fast!

I noticed more than I thought. I haven’t Santa Claus (the Regular runner who has a bushy white beard like Santa Claus) in a while.

Here’s a poem I discovered yesterday while previewing May Swenson’s Nature (which I ordered!). It fits with my theme for September, and how I’m feeling these days: tender.

Living Tenderly/ May Swenson

My body a rounded stone
with a pattern of smooth seams.
My head a short snake,
retractive, projective.
My legs out out of their sleeves
or shrink within,
and so does my chin.
My eyelids are quick clamps.

My back is my roof.
I am always at home.
I travel where my house walks.
It is a smooth stone.
It floats within the lake,
or rests in the dust.
My flesh lives tenderly
inside its bone.

august 17/RUNSWIM

run: 5 miles
franklin loop
70 degrees
9:00 am

Such a nice morning for a run! Sunny, with lots of shade. No stiff wind, only a welcoming breeze. Heard the rowers on the river. Yesterday, as Scott and I were driving on the river road, we encountered a truck with a trailer filled with 4 (or more?) big, 8-person rowing boats — they’re called octuple sculls. So long. Wow!

Can I remember 10 things from my run? I’ll try…

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a revving chainsaw in the gorge, near the floodplain forest
  2. a coxswain’s distorted voice, counting off drills
  3. someone cutting across the trail, then disappearing through a hole in the treeline
  4. cracked open acorns underfoot
  5. 4 or 5 stones stacked on the cairn
  6. a slash of orange spray paint marking a tree’s trunk — will it be cut down soon?
  7. crossing the franklin bridge, a sign: roadwork ahead (RJP’s perpetual joke: Road work ahead? I sure hope so!). Then, a few trucks parked on the side of the road
  8. the ravine smelling like a porta potty or a poorly venitilated outhouse
  9. my toe — the one next to the big toe on my left foot. Ouch! After my swim on Monday, I thought I had completely washed the sand from between my toes before I went out for a run. Nope. A few miles in, I got a blister. That blister popped and become a raw sore that ached today, even through the bandaid
  10. no geese, no music, no roller skiers

Last night, Scott and I started watching the second season of Only Murders in the Building. So good! In the second episode, a character played by Shirley MacLaine describes her vision:

I have a bill of sale here somewhere that I… when I first bought it from the artist, and…

Oh God. Here! You find it! ( grunts )

I’ve got macular degeneration. I…

Nothing but a big bubble in my middle vision, and…

But I have very accurate peripheral vision, so you just…

Scott and I agreed that we had never heard vision/macular degeneration described in that way before on television. Very cool, and accurate. Such a great thing to include as a way to educate people on different ways of seeing.

I found a wonderful craft essay this morning by Amorak Huey: The Prose Poem & the Startling Image. I hope to write more about it soon. For now, here’s a prose poem he includes in his discussion of finding images that startle:

poem about water/ sam sax

i get it. your body is blah blah blah percent water. oceans levitate, clouds urinate on the ground that grows our food. this is considered a miracle – this is a problem of language. i could go on for days with facts about the ocean and it will always sound like i’m talking about love. i could say: no man has ever seen its deepest trenches, we know less about its floor than the stars, if you could go deep enough all your softest organs will be forced out of your mouth. you can be swallowed alive and no one will hear a sound. last summer three boys drowned in the sound and no one remembers their names, they came up white and soft as plastic grocery bags. i guess you could call that love. you’d be wrong.

Now I’ve started reading more of sam sax’s work. Water is a big theme in their collection, Bury it. And, how about this wonderful image in their poem, Prayer for the Mutilated World?

after phone lines do nothing
but cut the sky into sheet music
& our phones are just expensive
bricks of metal & glass

Or how water works in this poem:

swim: 1 small loop = .5 loop
cedar lake open swim
76 degrees
6:00 pm

Went to open swim with FWA. Just as we arrived, it started to rain. Then it rained harder. We almost turned back, but we didn’t. By the time we made it to the water, the rain had stopped and the sun was peeking through the clouds. The water wasn’t as clear as it has been, but still much clearer than Lake Nokomis. When we reached the far beach, we stopped for a few minutes. FWA picked up some rocks (with his feet, underwater), and started knocking them together. They made a sharp satisfying clicking noise that we could hear above water. I wonder if other swimmer could hear it below, and from how far away? Did it bother the fish?

march 3/RUN

4.25 miles
minnehaha falls and back
19 degrees / feels like 10
5% ice-covered

Sunnier today. Remembered to notice the sky. High above me, a clear, soft blue; nearer, mostly wispy clouds. Not much wind, not too cold. The river continues to open, ripped seams everywhere. I felt good as I ran. Tried chanting in triples (strawberry/blueberry/raspberry), but it didn’t last long. Devoted some attention to feeling my feet strike the ground, my legs lift off.

Before my run, I felt weighed down. Is it because my mom’s 80th birthday would have been this Saturday if she hadn’t died in 2009? Or because winter doesn’t want to leave? Or Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine? Or the University of Wyoming voting to end funding for the Gender and Women’s Studies Department? The climate crisis deniers? Whatever it was (and will continue to be), it lifted as I ran.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. lots of crows
  2. on the way back from the falls, after I put my headphones in, a cardinal’s trill fit very nicely with Cee Lo Green’s singing in “Crazy”
  3. a few walkers done below on the Winchell Trail
  4. primary noise: cars’ whooshing wheels on the river road
  5. a crew was out, in front of Minnehaha Academy, sawing down some tree limbs. The chainsaw started as an irritating whine, then a bzzzz
  6. laughing and yelling kids out on the school playground
  7. the snow on the hill in the oak savanna is melting fast — I saw some bare patches
  8. the falls: still frozen, all the trails and the stairs are covered in crusty, icy snow
  9. conversation overhead: something like, “and that’s what your dad was doing…”
  10. all the puddles from yesterday were solid and slick ice today

Right now, I’m trying to put together a course proposal for a summer class on moving and being outside and noticing wonder. It’s fun and frustrating and very exciting. Just north of the 44th street parking lot, I began thinking about whether I should use the word habit or ritual. I like ritual, but writing rituals seem to have a specific meaning. When I think of rituals, I often think of things done to prepare you for writing/creating — sitting in this chair, drinking this tea, listening to this music, wearing this shawl, etc. While being outside and moving can do that, it does more too. The act of regularly being outside and moving not only prepares you to be more creative, but can be the repeated practice of being creative. Does that make any sense? When I have time, I think I’ll do some more thinking through the differences between habit and ritual, especially how it is understood within poetry.

Found this poem in the march issue of Poetry:

Peripheral/ Hannah Emmerson

Yes I prefer the peripheral
because it limits the vision.

It does focus my attention.
Direct looking just is too

much killing of the moment.
Looking oblique littles

the moment into many
helpful moments.

Moment moment moment
moment keep in the moment.

My first reaction to this poem is resistance: I don’t agree with the idea that the peripheral limits vision. It alters it, changes how we see, but doesn’t limit it. Instead, it expands and softens. Is this reaction fair? I’ll sit with it for awhile, then return to this poem. When I finally begin work on my peripheral project, I’ll add it to my list of resources.

feb 20/RUN

2.6 miles
river road, south/north
36! degrees

Wow, it feels like spring this morning! Warmer air, bright sun, melting snow, chirping birds — cardinals and chickadees. Lots of walkers and runners and bikers on the trails, but no one was taking over the path. Saw someone running in shorts, someone walking with their winter coat draped over their arm. Heard some people hiking the winchell trail. The path was mostly clear, with a few narrow sheets of ice. The river was still covered with snow and ice.

Before I went out for my run, I was listening to Lulu Miller’s story, “The 11th Word,” on Radiolab. (It was originally published in 2020 in the Paris Review). In it, she considers language and how the ability to name might shape us in negative ways. She discusses how we use language to name things, and while that give us order, and some sort of control, it also strips us of our ability to live in and with uncertainty. I kept thinking, as I listened, about poetry and how it often attempts to make words and language uncertain again. There are ways to use/play with/invoke language that aren’t about Knowing or controlling or getting rid of the uncertainty. I wondered if I would think more about this as I ran, I didn’t. I don’t remember thinking about anything but how it felt like spring and I was over-dressed and wishing I’d worn a few less layers.

Also before I went out for a run, I listened to about 20 minutes of Tommy Pico reading his amazing book-length poem, IRL. Wow! Here’s an excerpt of an excerpt from it. I’m blown away by Pico’s voice (the writing, and his audio).

excerpt of an excerpt IRL/ Tommy Pico

Just what is so scary abt
the cave? I… I can hear
my heart beating in there
and I don’t like it.
In an effort to connect,
fingers will click open
more and more tabs.
People say there are three
Muses or nine sometimes
six or eight but
we’re friends now,
Imma crack open
the mythology for u—
Really there are four
states of Muse:
Solitude carries a deck
of cards. Intimacy brought
lube. Anonymity is here
I think. Reserve gives gift
certificates. Obviously.
The influence of Muse
is not unlike being under
the influence, the way a poem
is spontaneously drunk
on Robert Graves. The
implications of Muse pop
fizz in all directions: photography,
printing press,
telephone, flash fry, cave etc.
The temple of Muse
is all around you. Don’t patronize
me, tradition
is a cage Conflict constant The
argument to post will take
more on and more alluring
forms. Muse must be chased!
Vigilance is all that stands btwn
us and a police state Tell me
as I switch between lenses—
which is clearer: A… or B. One
more time? Okay, A… or B.
I can’t ever see
where I stand in the lineage
of art, but I find being alone
maxes out my HP really
makes me kinder: Gap
btwn talking to mom vs
talking to mom
Muse used to mean
purpose in being
alone—Muse is romanticized
by the idea of possession and lord
knows I can’t live unoccupied.

I want to do something with their mention of switching between lenses and whether it is better in A or B. Very cool. Yes, the idea of being better with A or B (or 1 or 2), makes me think about this in-between state I’m in with my vision right now, both how well I can and cannot see, but also which world is better or preferable or more true, whatever that means — the world I was in where I could see mostly normally, or the world I’m slowly entering now where my central vision is almost gone or totally gone. I always struggle with either/or choices and the binaries they create. I want to do some more research on this vision test — what it’s called, who developed it and for what reason, why it’s used and if there are alternatives test to measure the same thing.

feb 15/RUN

5.5 miles
bottom of franklin and back
21 degree / feels like 10

At first, I was planning to bike and run in the basement this morning, but I decided outside was better. And it was. The paths were slick in spots, but I was fine. Yesterday when I went running at around this time, late morning, I was hungry. I thought I’d be fine, but halfway through the run, I felt very tired. Again today, I was hungry, but I ate a cookie before I left and it made all the difference. (The cookie was a snickerdoodle from a batch I baked yesterday for Valentine’s Day.) I had energy for the whole run.

More cardinals today, no black-capped chickadees. The sun was out, then not, streaks of blue sky in the cracks of the clouds. I could see my shadow. She was not sharp, but soft, a little more than the idea of her there, a little less than her solid presence. The gorge was still white, and so was the river, except for some cracks in the ice, especially near the bridges — lake and franklin. On the way down to the flats, I cross under the I-94 bridge. Someone painted graffitied letters in lime green a few months ago and now, in the dreary dregs of winter, right above the dark gray water, they look sad and tired.

I don’t remembering noticing any critters, although I do recall hearing some rustling in the brush across the road as I entered the flats. I looked, but couldn’t see anyone or anything. Smelled a strong wave of pot. Encountered several runners and walkers. Near the end of my run, I passed a runner stopped by the side of the trail, waiting while her dog pooped in the snow.

Anything else? I think I devoted a lot of energy to watching the trail, and making sure I was avoiding ice, especially the big, concrete-like chunks that blend into the white background. At least, for me — do they for people with normal vision? One of the bigger chunks could do some serious damage to my foot.

Almost forgot: As I was finishing up, running on the sidewalks, trying to avoid the sheets of ice stretching across parts of the path, I thought about how I can usually see the ice. It’s because my peripheral vision is fine, and that’s where I spot the ice. And, to see ice — that is, “warning! ice ahead, watch out!” — doesn’t require a highly focused, precise image. Ice is often a blob or a discoloration on the path. I don’t need cone cells to see that. And, the way I, and probably a lot of other people, detect ice is by noticing how the light reflects off of it differently than the bare sidewalk. The sun on ice shimmers and sparkles more. Gray-ish light on ice is duller, flatter.

I think I finished my mannequins poem, I’m titling it, “Praise Improbable Things,” after lucille clifton’s poem, Praises, and its refrain, “Praise impossible things.” I’m barely halfway done with the month, so I have time to explore other meanings of WYSIWYG. I’m thinking of sticking with the mannequins, but exploring alt-text for them.

Here are some sources for alt-text that I want to use/refer back to:

feb 3/RUN

4.6 miles
minnehaha falls and back
0 degrees / feels like 0
0% snow-covered

It was cold today, but there was sun, and no wind, so I decided to run outside above the gorge. It felt colder than 0 to me, especially at the beginning. I started to get a slight headache from the cold air on the bridge of my nose. Once I warmed up, it went away. The other part of me that was cold for a few minutes: my feet.

layers (extra cold version)

  • one pair of socks
  • 2 pairs of gloves, 1 black, 1 hot pink with white stripes + hand warmers
  • 2 pairs black running tights
  • green base layer long-sleeved shirt
  • black 3/4 pull-over
  • pink jacket with hood
  • gray jacket
  • buff
  • black cap
  • sunglasses

Mostly, I was alone on the trail. When I did encounter people, it was almost always walkers alone, or in pairs, often in clusters — one walker, then a few seconds later, another walker, etc. At the falls, there were a few more people. At least 2 of them had big cameras. The falls were totally frozen, so was the creek up above. Almost everywhere, it was quiet and still.

This month, I’ve decided to read and write about a phrase that is also the theme for a call for poems from a journal that I’m submitting to: “what you see is what you get.” I’m hoping to approach this from as many angles as I can think of (and have time for). As I ran, I thought about in two ways:

what you see is what you get = whatever it is you can see (with your cone dystrophy), is all you get to work with for figuring out how to make sense of something. With the limited data I get from cone cells, that will involve some guessing, and relying on other senses + past experiences

what you see is what you get = what you see is not what you get, or what is real is not seen, but sensed in other ways, like air and wind. You can’t see wind or air, but you know it’s there. I think I was thinking about another example — maybe something to do with shadows? — but I’ve forgotten now.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. School kids on the playground — in 0 degrees. Minnesota kids are hearty
  2. The collar of my jacket rubbing against my hood
  3. My breath, labored as I ran up a hill
  4. Some sort of bird chirping, sounding like spring
  5. A car’s wheel whooshing on the river road
  6. A low, almost shrill and sharp, buzz just barely noticeable near the DQ
  7. The soft shuffle of my feet striking the grit on the path
  8. Someone on the walking side of the double-bridge holding a snowboard (I think?), then a thud, then that someone yelling something that sounded slightly distressed, but mostly not. What were they doing?
  9. Returning 20 minutes later to the bridge, hearing some scraping or pounding in the ravine below. I don’t know what the noise was, but I imagined snowboard dude, along with some other snowboard dudes, was chipping ice, or climbing an ice column, or doing something else to ice to make it possible for them to get back up to the bridge. Will I ever know what was going on?
  10. (not related to sound): a walker, or runner, I couldn’t tell, below me on the winchell trail. As I ran I wondered, was there even someone there, or was I imagining it?
  11. one more: my shadow, behind me as I ran south. Sharp, well-defined

Another thing I did in relation to “what you see is what you get” was to do some research on Groundhog Day. I’ll add the notes to my February page; I’ve spent too much time in front of my computer right now. Some interesting stuff. I wanted to think about Groundhog Day because it was yesterday, and also it fits the theme. In the U.S. if it’s sunny and the groundhog sees his shadow on Feb 2, there will be 6 more weeks of winter. If it’s cloudy, and he doesn’t, spring is coming. As Scott pointed out, this tradition is not an instance of, “what you see is what you get,” but the opposite: “what you see, is what you don’t get.” note: If the groundhog sees his shadow, most people across the country are bummed. Ugh, 6 more weeks of winter! But, here in Minnesota, it’s cause for celebration. Only 6 more weeks of winter? Hooray!