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 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 28/RUN

3 miles
36 degrees
COVID cases: 295,001 (MN)/ 13.1 million (US)
COVID deaths: 3,476 (MN)/ 264,977 (US)

More sun today. Very nice after the gloom even if it makes it harder to see other people. Thankfully, I hardly encountered anyone with my meandering sidewalk route. Very nice. Ran with my shadow for at least part of the time. Tried to go slower, but it was hard; I still went much faster in my second and third miles. Don’t remember hearing any roller skiers or seeing any fat tires. No big groups of runners or bikers or walkers. Never got close enough to see the river. No geese or turkeys or squirrels. I do remember hearing a runner calling out to someone about how it was a nice day for a run. Anything else? I smelled the smoke near Edmund and 38th. Is that coming from a chimney or fire pit in someone’s yard or the gorge?

Just heard on the radio that the high today is 54. Nice! I think I’ll sit on the deck or the front steps sometime today. Yesterday I sat on the front steps and heard a black capped chickadee. I’ll take these small delights in the midst of the scary news about uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.

Praise Song for the Day/ ELIZABETH ALEXANDER

A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need.
What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Oh this poem! “What if the mightiest word is love?” “love with no need to pre-empt grievance.” “today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air” “on the brink, on the brim, on the cusp”, and “we walk into that which we cannot yet see”.

nov 26/RUN

7K (4.3 miles)
franklin loop
34 degrees

For our annual Thanksgiving morning run, Scott and I decided to do the Franklin loop. On the way there, we stopped at his favorite spot right above the river road and the Franklin bridge. I was going to embed the photo from instagram but I can’t do that–why can’t I do that anymore? Oh well, here’s the link: Scott and Sara’s 7K

Things I Remember

  • mostly people who cared and who tried to keep distance, a few who did not–the people in the tunnel at Brackett Park, the runners who took over the narrow lake street bridge and barely moved
  • the soft, fuzzy (or furry?) browns of the leafless treeline, the pale blue of the river, the white sunless sky
  • yard signs: Dogs for Biden, Cats for Biden
  • discovering another street to take instead of the sometimes crowded path on the St. Paul side
  • easy relaxed run with a conversation–what did we talk about? Do I remember any of it? Not sure but that’s okay
  • running on the sidewalk by the fancy houses on the east river road
  • running by a less fancy house, hearing a noise, and playing one of my new favorite games: is it a … or a …? Today’s: is it a heater or a vacuum cleaner? Last week’s: is it a chainsaw or a leaf blower?

(from 27 nov) last night and this morning, I remembered a few more things from yesterday’s run I’d like to add:

  • running in the road to avoid people on the sidewalk, noticing the terrible condition of the asphalt. So many cracks and craters and dangerous divots!
  • the trees on the edge of the boulevard leaving precariously towards the street
  • at least 2 different groups of people thanking us for running in the street and giving them distance
  • a good omen: standing at Scott’s favorite spot on the hill above the river road near the franklin bridge, hearing the distinctive clicking and clacking of a roller skier’s ski poles
  • seeing (and counting) so many bright yellow shirts on bikers, one dark gray shirt with a thick horizontal yellow stripe
  • hearing about Scott’s idea for a meta Christmas song: structured like the 12 days of christmas, about the 12 things that must be in all christmas songs
  • admiring the majestic lion statues on pedestals–or, on plinths? I love the word plinth–in front of a equally majestic house, right above the public sidewalk
  • the house that was so big we couldn’t tell right away if it were a house or an apartment and that had a crappy plastic storage shed near one side

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 24/RUN

2.5 miles
around the neighborhood + tunnel of trees
34 degrees
97% humidity

Dark, damp, deserted. Not desolate because I didn’t find it gloomy or bleak, just empty. Ran through the tunnel of trees, encountering only oneperson. I’m noticing that everyone is more careful lately; giving lots of space to others. On the way to the tunnel, noticed the old stone steps were blocked off for the winter. Even so, someone was running up them as I went by. Did they run back down them? It seemed like they might. Running west on 38th, I suddenly heard loud music off to my side–now I can’t remember what the song was even though I know it–which freaked me out: a person singing along with a radio, about to leave their house and turn onto the sidewalk. Glad they didn’t run into me–that scenario is a Covid nightmare for me.

Let the transition begin! So happy and relieved to hear the news last night that Biden can finally move forward.

nov 23/RUN

3.15 miles
turkey hollow
26 degrees

I was able to run by the gorge today! Sunny, calm, not too cold. What a wonderful morning to be outside! Watched the river come into view as I ran above the oak savanna. Admired the water glowing through the tall, leafless trees. Appreciated how the pedestrians I encountered kept their distance. Running by turkey hollow, I forgot to check for turkeys. Yesterday afternoon, when we drove by, RJP pointed them out. Were they there today? Not sure. Saw my shadow several times. When she was running ahead of me, her hands looked strange–maybe that was because my gloves were only partially on?

I don’t remember hearing any birds or music coming from radios or the clicking and clacking of ski poles. No dogs barking deep in the gorge or mysterious rustling in the brush. No gushing water–well, except for from the manhole at 38th and Edmund. No traffic or honking or loud conversations. No wind chimes or laughing kids. I do remember hearing a loud truck up above near the Ford Bridge, and a car approaching from somewhere behind me–on the river road or edmund? I heard some clanging and assumed, without being able to see, that the person on the other side of the boulevard was walking a dog. Near Folwell there was a lot of pounding and buzzing from a nail gun as workers repaired a roof.

The only other things I remember are thinking that this was run was wonderful and that my right knee was okay and that it was also hard and I would be glad when I reached the place where I could stop.

Phrases I Dislike that are Overused on Facebook and Twitter

A few weeks ago, I started a list of phrases that people use on social media that irritate me. Since I added one more this morning, I thought I’d post them here:

  • Louder for the people in the back
  • Thank you for attending my TED talk
  • I was today years old when…
  • I don’t know who needs to hear this but …
  • chef’s kiss
  • Starting the tweet with “welp!”
  • People who, when responding to a tweet that asks, “What are you reading this week?” respond: “this tweet”

Just had a thought about this last one. My first reaction when I encounter the response, “this tweet,” is: do you really think this is clever or that a dozen other people haven’t already said this? But what if the person who tweets this knows it’s stupid and has just decided that it is necessary for at least one person to always tweet this, that the thread is not complete unless this tired joke has been made and that they are the person who must always do it. There’s a story there, I think, or at least a character detail or an aside to a story.

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 18/RUN

3.15 miles
43rd ave, north/lake street, west + bridge/edmund, south/37th st, west
39 degrees
wind: 14 mph (26 mph gusts)
COVID-19 cases: 236,949 (MN) 11,369,504 (US)
COVID-19 deaths: 2,943 (MN) 248,824 (US)*

*I haven’t put up the COVID numbers since spring. Scary how much they’ve grown and how much illness/death we get used to

A little warmer today so only one long-sleeved shirt and a vest + tights and a headband covering my ears. The right number of layers. Ran to lake street and didn’t encounter a single pedestrian–was it the wind? the alarming escalation of covid cases? Ran onto the lake street bridge and admired the beautifully blueish gray river with the snowy banks and bare branches. Wow, what a calming wonderful view! Made it halfway and decided, after seeing some people up ahead that I didn’t want to encounter on this narrow bridge and battling too hard with the wind and my cap that wanted to fly away, that I would turn around. Ran through the parking lot of Minnehaha Academy–a full lot of students and teachers–and past the aspen eyes. One of them was watching me. Smelled the longfellow grill, which didn’t make me hungry, breakfast food hardly ever does. Felt like I was running into the wind almost every direction I went. Thought about nothing and everything. I think I saw the Daily Walker at the end of my run, but I wasn’t sure and he was up ahead so I didn’t want to yell out and startle him.

Encountered this moving poem on twitter yesterday by Katie Farris. She wrote one of my favorite green poems–What Would Root. So sad to read a few months ago that she has breast cancer. What a poem!

In the Event of My Death/ Katie Farris

What used to be
a rope descending
my vertebrae to the basement
of my spine
grows thin.

In solidarity with my chemotherapy,
our cat leaves her whiskers on
the hardwood floor,
and I gather them, each pure white parenthesis
and plant them
in the throat of the earth.

In quarantine,
I learned to trim your barbarian
hair. Now it stands always on end:
a salute to my superior barbary skills. In the event
of my death, promise you will find my heavy braid
and bury it–

I will need a rope
to let me down into the earth.
I’ve hidden others
strategically around the globe, a net
to catch my body
in the wearing.

The rope descending to the basement of the spine, the pure white parenthesis of a cat’s whiskers, the throat of the earth, the ropes buried around the world to offer a way down into the earth. Wow.

Current COVID mood: some hope (over vaccines and a new president soon) mixed with fear (terrifying increase in number of cases) and anger/disgust (over assholes not taking this virus seriously).