dec 31/RUN

4.5 miles
minnehaha falls and back
26 degrees / feels like 20
90% snow-covered

The last run of the year. A beautiful winter morning. Not much wind, not too cold, not too crowded. In the beginning, the sun was behind some clouds. The light was eerie and subdued. Everything soft gray. Almost reverent. I felt relaxed and happy and open to the world, moving with it and through it instead of against it. I tried to keep my back strong and straight, feeling the pressure release from my hips. Deep breath in through my nose, out through my mouth.

Lots of thinking about being open that I don’t quite remember now. Something about George Sheehan and a mixture of these quotes from his essay, “Running”:

…each day I take to the roads as a beginner, a child, a poet. Seeking the innocence of the beginner, the wonder of the child and the vision of the poet. Hoping for a new appreciation of the landscape, a new perspective of my inner world, some new insights on life, a new response to existence and myself.

I must listen and discover forgotten knowledge. Must respond to everything around me and inside me as well. 

Poets do this naturally. A really good poet, wrote James Dickey, is like an engine with the governor off….

The best most of us can do is to be a poet an hour a day. Take the hour when we run 0r tennis or golf or garden; take that hour away from being a serious adult and become serious beginners.

Running / George Sheehan, 1978

I like the idea of combining the wonder of the child with the vision of a poet, but not really the innocence of a beginner. Instead of innocence, I’d say the openness of a beginner, or maybe even the ignorance? — unknowingness might be better — the enthusiasm, lack of judgment or preconceived notions? Innocence seems too connected to purity and whiteness for me, in terms of how it gets imagined. Yes, I like openness.

I wasn’t thinking about innocence as I ran, just openness and being open to everything around me and inside of me. When I lifted from my hips, my shoulders relaxed and dropped, my chest opened. I smiled a lot, greeted almost all the other runners with a morning or a wave, didn’t worry about my upcoming colonoscopy. I didn’t try to hold onto everything I was seeing or hearing or smelling or feeling, but let it move through me.

Returning to Sheehan’s quotes, his emphasis on new — new appreciations, new perspectives, new insights, new response — made me think of an essay I read just before my run:

As we enter this December, we can hunker down to endure a dark winter, or we can head out and see familiar paths with new eyes. As we taste the crisp, fresh air and float through the white quiet we may feel a spark of long-forgotten magic, and maybe even hope; hope for a different spring, one we’ll be ready to embrace with the youthful strength of a winter well lived.

The Magic of Winter Running/ Jonathan Beverly

I ran without headphones or yaktrax and in lots of layers: 2 pairs of black running tights, a green shirt, a pink jacket with a hood, a black vest, 1 pair of black gloves, a black fleece-lined cap, a gray buff.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a male runner in shorts with bare legs
  2. the sun came out by the time I reached the falls
  3. minnehaha creek just before the falls was completely covered in white
  4. a dry leaf skittering across the snow-covered path. no sound, only movement — sharp, brittle, frantic
  5. the smell of smoke in the usual spot
  6. kids’ voices, laughing and yelling as they sled down the hill between wabun and the falls
  7. my shadow running next to me
  8. a fat tire approaching the river road trail, then carefully crossing over the hard chunks of snow and ice as it entered the trail
  9. a black capped chickadee with a strange call — not the fee bee call and not chickadeedeedee. Do they have a different winter call?
  10. a pileated woodpecker calling out in response, and another bird that I can’t identify

Forgot to look at the river. Didn’t hear any geese. Decided not to stop at my favorite spot at the falls and put in a playlist.

Back to the black capped chickadee. I was running on edmund, thinking about something else, when suddenly I heard the chickadee. A welcomed interruption! I started thinking about a fun experiment to try with my students that’s about being more open to hearing sounds, like this call. It involves going outside and recording a moment of sound. Then later, listening back and giving attention to the sounds in the recording that you didn’t notice, or that you ignored (maybe always ignore). What sounds are around us that we tune out? Rumbling planes, crunching footsteps.

Speaking of sounds around us, I almost forgot to mention the constant presence of the hum of the city. Starting my run, I noticed how loud it was — not noisy traffic right around me, but buzzing off in the distance. So loud! But not unpleasant.

Tried out the minson form (14 letter sonnet). So fun! Not sure if I’m quite capturing the spirit of a sonnet — what is that exactly? does it require a volta? how do you do that in 14 letters? The following are based on my log entry above:

another gray day

more muted magic

bare leg bravery

nervous fat tire

all of it strange

emptied of geese

quiet leaf waltz

forgotten river

remembered bird

opened the doors

a kid a sled a hill

a being shadowed

the frozen falls

I like the double meaning of this last one, frozen falls. I didn’t slip on any ice, or see anyone else stumble as they moved over the occasional ice patch, but the frozen sidewalk probably did cause somebody to fall.

dec 30/SWIM

1 mile
ywca pool

Another fun swim with RJP! Today, instead of continuous 200s, I mixed it up with a few faster 50s, 3 100 IMs, and a bunch of 200s. I stopped several times to talk with RJP. At one point, we were swimming together. I kept looking at her underwater, trying to catch her eye. She never noticed.

Anything else? The water was clear. The chlorine didn’t burn my nose. My googles only leaked a little. I don’t remember hearing many sounds — no squeaks from my nose plug. As usual, it was all about orange. Every time I turned my head, I saw orange (the orange signs on the pool deck) or looked for orange (the orange of Scott’s swim trunks).

a new form: the minison

Found a new poetic form that I’d never heard of before: minison. A mini sonnet. The only “rule” is that the poem is 14 letters long. Wow. Discovered The Minison Project and went down a rabbit hole.

rabbit hole trip (14 letters):

begin here: Issue 0 of the zine
go deeper here: The Minison Zine
get your bearings here: The Minison Project
find other examples here: corkwood blossom and the fourteen ghosts
fall further here: Seymour Mayne – Hail: 14 word Sonnets

a few favorite minisons:

fourteen ghosts
between the snow
nonstop farting
about aboutness

a favorite 14 word sonnet:



So much fun! I could see these as being great for playing around with words, experimenting, and finding better words for describing a run or a swim. What could I say about my swim today?

  • butterfly hurts
  • winter swimming
  • flip turn fiasco
  • leaking goggles
  • staring at Rosie
  • I only see orange

When I have more time, I’d like to try these out more. Maybe suggest them in my class?!

dec 29/RUN

5 miles
franklin hill turn around
34 degrees / humidity: 87%
60% snow and slush covered

A nice run, even if it was a little too slushy and slick. After I was done, walking on edmund, I took out my phone and recorded my thoughts and the sounds of this wintery Thursday morning. Very cool to listen back to the recording: the steady crunch crunch crunch of my feet, car wheels whooshing through the slushy puddles, the hum of the city, birds chirping, melted snow drip drip dripping through the metal gutter, the brief moments when my feet go silent as I cross over bare pavement.

Ran north with no headphones, south with a playlist (summer 2014).

post run winter morning sounds

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a congress of crows, cawing loudly (congress, council, and consideration are J. Drew Lanham’s collective name for crows instead of murder)
  2. greeting Dave the Daily Walker, good morning Dave!
  3. the river is white, completely covered
  4. in some spots, the trail was 1/2 slush, with a few spots of ice
  5. in other spots, bare pavement
  6. a woman in a yellow vest, running fast in the road. I marveled at the steady rhythm of her feet and before I knew it she was way over on the other side of 36th. I spotted her as a bright yellow dot in the distance
  7. the scraping of ski poles to the side of me — not quick thrusts, but the steady drag of poles down a hill
  8. some of the snow was white, some gray, some light brown
  9. several runners, many walkers, a few fat tires
  10. 2 women walking in the middle of the trail, in the barest spot, stopping every few seconds to stare at something — what?

Here are a few passages about the wonder of winter from Dallas Lore Sharp and his book Winter. I originally heard about him on The Marginalia.

I love the winter…its bare fields, empty woods, flattened meadows, its ranging landscapes, its stirless silences, its tumult of storms, its crystal nights with stars new cut in the glittering sky, its challenge, defiance, and mighty wrath. I love its wild life–its birds and animals; the shifts they make to conquer death. And then, out of this winter watching, I love the gentleness that comes, the sympathy, the understanding!

you must see how close you had passed to and for all summer to the vireo’s nest, hanging from the fork on a branch of some low bush or tree, so near to the path that it almost brushed your hat. Yet you never daw it! Go on and make a study of the empty nests….Study how the different birds build — materials, shapes, finish, supports; for winter is the better season in which to make such study, the summer being so crowded with interests of its own.

When the snow hardens, especially after a strong wind, go out to see what you can find in the wind furrows of the snow–in the holes, hollows, pockets, and in footprints in the snow. Nothing? Look again, closely — that dust — wind-sweepings — seeds!

winter, when the leaves are off, the ground bare, the birds and flowers gone, and all is reduced to singleness and simplicity — winter is the time to observe the shapes, colors, varieties, and growth of the lichens.

What a world of gray days, waste lands, bare woods, and frozen waters there is to see! And you should see them — gray and bare and waste and frozen. But what is a frozen pond for if not to be skated on? and waste white lands, but to go sleighing over? and cold gray days, but so many opportunities to stay indoors with your good books?

You will see the fishermen on the ponds catching pickerel through the ice — life swimming there under the frozen surface! You will see the bare empty woodland fresh budded to the tip of each tiny twig — life all over the trees thrust forward to catch the touch of spring! You will see the wide flinty fields thick sown with seeds — life, more life than the sun and the soil can feed, sleeping there under “the tender, sculturesque, immaculate, warming, fertilizing snow”!

The air was crisper; the snow began to crackle underfoot; the twigs creaked and rattled as I brushed along; a brown beech leaf wavered down and skated with a thin scratch over the crust…These were not the voices, colors, odors, and forms of summer. The very face of things had changed; all had been reduced, made plain, simple, single, pure! There was less for the senses, but how much keener now their joy! The wide landscape the frosty air, the tinkle of tiny icicles, and, out of the quiet of the falling twilight, the voice of the quail!

dec 28/SWIM

1 mile
ywca pool

Just RJP and me today. We swam for about 1/2 hour. Crowded. We still managed to find a lane to split. At some point, I noticed a line of kids walking the pool deck. Otters swim team. RJP and FWA were on the team for 4 or 5 year. I wonder if it was strange for RJP to see all of them out of the corner of her eye as she kept swimming? I forgot to ask.

update (later that day): I asked RJP and she said that the kids weren’t Otters. They were just learning to swim and had on swimming vests. I asked, were the vests orange? Yes, she said. Of course, orange. Every time I swim at the y, I see orange, always orange. Will that make it into my orange poem? Possibly.

There were 2 women swimming next to us. One of them pushed off the wall for her first lap in a sprint. At least it looked like a sprint. The other woman was a little slower, more measured. 3 lanes across, a guy was swimming fast, doing a hard set. Another woman was walking underwater and stretching her legs.

There was a low buzz from the leisure pool as kids burned off holiday energy.

A good swim. I’d like to figure out how to swim for longer. It’s hard because RJP and Scott don’t want to stay quite as long as me, and they’re the ones who can drive. I’ll figure something out. For now, I’m just happy to be swimming in the winter!

Later, in the car, RJP told me about some older women she overheard in the locker room. They seemed like old friends, she said, and were happily chatting away. I love this about locker rooms. So many people are happy, having just worked out. I’m glad RJP noticed it too.

Here’s a color poem I discovered yesterday. I want to study it to see how it can help me with my color poems.

Against Pink / Dara Yen Elerath

Pink is an unhappy hue, not soothing like cerulean, nor calming like lavender or gray. It is the color of fingernails shorn away, blood dripping from the waxen quick. It is the color of a sunburned arm. The color of harm that lingers on cut shins for days. Pink is not the shade of buttercups or daisies. It is the color of poisonous brugmansia blooms, of poppies that bring on sleep. Pink saturates the face in anger. It is the cast left on a cutting board by a hunk of uncooked meat. Pink, too, is the bittersweet shade of passion subdued, passion that has slipped from burgundy to rose. It is only a tincture of desire and so carries the least conviction. It is the tint that drifts away unnoticed in the night. Be frightened of pink. Do not think it the innocent color of dresses or barrettes, the blush of areolas, strawberry snow cones, or grenadine martinis. Try, for once, to see it rightly. It is frightening. It is the hue of a person’s insides, the color of a womb. That room where life arises. That room where babies are made. Where arms, legs, and heads are created. Eyes, blood, and tiny teeth.

dec 27/RUN

3.3 miles
under ford bridge and back
18 degrees / feels like 8
95% snow-covered, a few slick spots

And, goal achieved! In the middle of my run, I reached 1000 miles. Probably as I ran over the double bridge on my way back, maybe as I encountered another person who was stopped on the bridge. We did that annoying thing where we both went the same way, then shifted and went the same way again, then finally went in opposite ways.

A good run. It felt hard at the beginning. Difficult to breathe through a stuffed-up nose. I’m not sick, it’s just living inside in the dry air for too much of the day. As I warmed up, it got a little easier. The sidewalks were covered in packed, uneven snow, slick in spots.

I think I saw my shadow. I can’t remember if I saw them today, but a few days ago, driving on the river road, I admired the long, dark, twisted shadows the trees were casting on the completely white, completely snow-covered river road.

I heard some chirping birds, sounding like spring. As I started the run on my block, I heard a howl or a bellow. A dog? A coyote? A dog. Whining at the back door of a neighbor’s house. And I heard my feet striking the packed snow on the path. No pleasing crunch, or delightfully annoying grind. Only muffled thuds. Thought I heard some wind chimes coming from a neighbor’s deck. No headphones heading south, my “swim meet motivation” playlist heading back north.

Smelled the fire at the house on edmund that always seems to have a fire in the winter.

Felt my feet slip a little as I ran over slick spots. Enjoyed feeling the dry pavement — solid, secure — on the very rare and brief spots where the path was dry. Felt my burning, flushed face — was I overdressed? Felt a strong, sharp wind blowing in my face.

At some point in the run, I was interrupted by the sound of the wind rushing through some dead, orange leaves on an oak tree. What was I interrupted from? Maybe thinking too much about my effort or whether or not I would encounter another person or concentrating on the words to the song I was listening to. This interruption reminded me that one key way I use moving outside to pay attention is through passive noticing, answering when the world calls to me. Making myself open and available to the world. Yes! Before I went out for a run, I was working on the schedule for the class I’m teaching in the winter. I was trying to figure out how to tighten it up, rein it in a little, so I didn’t have too much (too many ideas, activities, readings) that might overwhelm students. I think this idea of passive attention and letting the world in, being open, is key to that. Cool.

Speaking of my class, here are some passages from an essay (Thinking Like a Sidewalk) on sidewalks and running in the winter that I might want to use in my class:

gradations of gray

My hometown of Carbondale, Colorado is buried in enough snow each winter to force most of us to become connoisseurs of concrete. Having spent the spring inviting peaking greens, all summer squinting across a singed expanse, and the fall celebrating the leafy explosion, each winter I relearn how to appreciate the gradations between smoke, cool ash, slate, pewter and pearl.

treadmill window

I realized what made me feel part of the wild was not physical proximity, but emotional. The intimate connections I formed with my wintery tableau from the treadmill felt as real and important as any experience on the trail. I became more familiar with that patch of snowy creekbed than many people ever would, and even worried when my nuthatch friend failed to report for pine-branch duty (If you’re reading this, please reach out). 

The treadmill window allowed me to become what Ralph Waldo Emerson called the “transparent eyeball” in his essay, “Nature.”

I am nothing, I see all. 

a practice

Similar to a new strength routine, or a pre-race visualization, cultivating the habit of noticing the confident posture of a rook on its telephone pole perch takes focus, intent and repetition.

This demands turning attention toward the rustle of grass that says you aren’t running solo or the shallow pawprint that shows you aren’t the only critter perfecting their strides. Each run offers an opportunity to broaden our understanding of what wildness is, and connect with it in and around ourselves. 

Perhaps the sidewalk doldrums are due less to the monochrome concrete as the decline in our ability to appreciate the wilderness that exists between the cracks, and that exists in us.  It’s one thing to value a majestic vista worthy of posting on Instagram, something more subtle to celebrate the subtlety of snowy sidewalk. 

Thinking Like a Sidewalk

Wow! I’m definitely going to use bits of this essay for my class. Love it. note: the title, Thinking Like a Sidewalk, is a reference to Aldo Leopold and his essay, Thinking Like a Mountain.

Other things I want to read that are mentioned in the essay:

dec 26/RUNSWIM

run: 2.5 miles
ywca track

Went to the Y with Scott and RJP this morning, so I ran there. First time running on the track in 4 or 5 years. Wasn’t too bad — not that crowded. Very quiet. I forgot to count laps so my distance is approximate — my watch never seems to be accurate indoors. Listened to “swim meet motivation” playlist and observed people as I passed them.

10 People I Noticed on the track

  1. a man, sometimes running (slowly), sometimes walking, wearing black gloves — not boxing gloves but also not winter gloves
  2. another guy, pulling a sled at the far corner
  3. a woman running, the key to her locker jangling in her pocket with every step
  4. an older white woman with white hair — was she wearing a pink sweatshirt, or was it blue? I can’t remember now. She walked pretty fast on the track, but was slow on the stairs when I was behind her earlier
  5. RJP, walking — I waved at her every time I passed by. Was it annoying?
  6. someone using rattle ropes, off to the side, furiously lifting them up and down
  7. a woman on an eliptical machine in front of one of the windows
  8. an older white guy with white hair in jeans and a maroon shirt walking around the track
  9. Scott, running
  10. another older white man wearing gray shorts, walking

I don’t remember thinking about much, or noticing anything that interesting, or overhearing some strange conversation.

swim: .25 miles
ywca pool

Only needed a quarter of mile to reach my year goal of 120 miles. Not a very ambitious goal for an entire year of swimming; this goal was mostly for the open swim season. I’m thinking this year, since I’m swimming in the pool, I need to make it a lot bigger. 200 or 300? Not sure. Split a lane with RJP. Crowded today because of the break. All I remember was swimming next to a bunch of swim team kids, feeling sluggish in my first lap underwater, and noticing how the water was clearer than it had been last week.

Found this hybrid journal online. A call for submissions from jan 1-2. I want to submit something — either a mood ring or a colorblind plate, but which? One note: some of the site is almost unreadable for my bad vision. Not nearly enough contrast! Thankfully the journal pdf is easier to read.

I love lists, so I was excited to see this poem in the first issue:

List of Things to Make a List of/ Beth Mulcahy

Make a list of
things that sound like thunder but are not conversations to have
hard conversations to have
what makes conversations hard what makes conversations easy
things to do to get through a hard day
songs that helps with getting through a hard day
people to tell about it what to tell them
people not to tell
ways to prevent it
how to describe it
how to tell people the truth when to tell people the truth things you have said
things you should not have said things you should have said things you should say
to someone specific to anyone
to no one
how to let go of retroactive anxieties
things you used to care about that you don’t anymore things you wish you cared more about
things that used to be different
examples of passive aggressive statements examples of things that are too direct (harsh)
ways of beating around the bush
ways of cutting to the chase
how to calm yourself down
apologies you owe
things you can’t forgive
things you can’t forget
things you should forget
things that are your fault
things that are not your fault
the hardest things you’ve had to do
how to make things easier
for self
for others things you can explain
things that you cannot explain things you can’t describe things to write through
things that are private
people who love you
people who love you and also like you
things you have to offer
things to say to people you love things to say about the weather people you talk to every single day people you don’t know anymore people you loved who are dead ways to let things go
how to keep from having to let go ways to pay attention
things to pay attention to
things to ignore
places to fly away to
ways to be where you are

dec 23/BIKERUN

bike: 10 minute warm-up
run: 3.35 miles
outside temp: -7 / feels like -25

Scott, RJP, and I braved the cold and drove over to the Y. Empty parking lot. Closed early for the holidays because of the extreme cold and wind. Oh well. Drove back home and did another treadmill workout. Covered the display panel, turned on a running podcast, and ran with hardly any idea of how long I was moving. I wanted to check my watch a few times, but I decided to wait until there was a pause in the podcast for the sponsor. Almost 33 minutes. Wow, I had no idea I had been running for that long. Mostly listened to the Olympic 1500 runner Heather MacLean discuss being an introvert, talking to the trees in a Flagstaff forest, and struggling with the pressure of running at the Olympics. I tried to think about color and the idea of orange and buoys.

This morning I had thought about orange in relation to navigation and reorienting myself in terms of open water swimming and life and wanting to become a bird (using quantum mechanics and blue light for navigation) or one of the monarch butterflies that fly across lake superior on a route designed to avoid a mountain that hasn’t existed for centuries. Orange, literally and figuratively, is about navigation and orientation for me. It’s the first color I couldn’t see that started my awareness that something was wrong with my vision. It’s the color of the buoys that I’ve used every summer since I was diagnosed for practicing “how to be when I cannot see” — learning how to negotiate/navigate without the certainty of sight. It’s the color that I’ve noticed the most when I tracking how my peripheral vision works and is helping me use the remaining bits of central vision.

2 past entries to review:

On bird navigation and quantum mechanics
On monarch butterflies and missing mountains

Found this poem the other day on

Owl/ Anne Haven McDonnell

In winter, we find her invisible 
against the furrows 
of cottonwood bark. Her swivel 
and lean follow us until 
we sit on the old polished log 
we call creature. She blinks, 
swells her feathers out, shakes and settles. 

It’s a good day when I see an owl. 
We watch until she drops—a fall 
opening to swoop and glide. What is it 
with lesbians and owls? Someone 
asked. I’ll leave the question 
there. There’s a world 

the old trees make of water 
and air. I like to feel the day 
undress its cool oblivion, currents 
moving the one mind of leaves, 
shadows deeper with the breath 
of owls. Just the chance she might 
be there watching makes me 
love—no—makes me loved.

So much I love about this poem: the short lines, economy of words, how the narrator has named the log creature, that it’s a good day when she sees an owl (not because it’s an owl, although that’s cool, but because she thinks that if she sees a certain something, she’ll have a good day. Mine is roller skiers or turkeys), the cool oblivion, the breath of owls, shadows as both (?) a noun and a verb, the ending line.

dec 22/BIKERUN

bike: 12 minute warm-up
run: 3.25 miles
outside temp: -6 / feels like -25

Dangerously cold today, or as the winter storm warning described it, life-threatening. Yikes. In order to chip away at those last miles I need to reach my goal of 1000 miles, I ran on the treadmill.

current total (after this run): 991.95

Warmed up (because it was cold in the basement!) on the bike first, while watching Erin Azar (Mrs. Space Cadet) and her latest “uncomfy” challenge. A self-proclaimed struggle runner and content creator, Azar is completing (and filming) a bunch of things that make her feel uncomfortable. This one was working out with a college lacrosse team. I like her and I enjoyed this video, partly for her perspective, partly for the positive energy of the college athletes, and partly for the speed drills. Some useful stuff in there, I think.

After the bike warm-up, I ran for 31 minutes. Decided to try listening to my latest audiobook, a story collection about an elderly woman in Sweden who likes to solve her problems with murder: An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good. I really like stories with smart, capable, thriving (not always physically, but in terms of their perspective that when you get old you’re not just waiting for death to come) older women. I also like that it’s a story collection — as opposed to a ridiculously long novel — and that it’s translated from Swedish. I covered the display panel on the treadmill with a towel, didn’t look at my watch, and ran while listening to Maud (the old lady) murder a terrible gold digger and a selfish, needy sister. Wow. I lost track of time and was surprised when I gave in and looked at my watch and saw that 26 minutes had gone by. I struggle to run for a long time on a too steady treadmill in a boring basement. Listening to this book helped.

Earlier today, I continued reading Maggie Nelson’s Bluets. Here’s #51:

51. You might as well act as if objects had the colors, the Encyclopedia says.—Well, it is as you please. But what would it look like to act otherwise?

Bluets/ Maggie Nelson

I wrote this in reaction (as opposed to a thought out response) to the idea of acting otherwise: What would this look like for me? I am not acting as if they had no colors, nor do I need to. I can still see colors. My world is not black and white or even gray. The colors just work differently, unreliably. Colors speak in a language that is sometimes silent for me. Color-coded, color as signal, sign. Color to get your attention to communicate something more quickly than a word could do. Color as a practical language. I’ve lost, am losing the ability to USE color as an efficient/effective/persuasive form of communication. Or — to be used by it. Some of this is good, but some of it prevents me from receiving important messages: mold on food, danger in the road, stay away, stop.

Back to Nelson and Bluets. I’m struck by how she cites and uses other writers/thinkers/poets in this book. The first book I read by Nelson was a more recent one, The Argonauts, way back in 2015. The citation is different in this book, but it’s worth mentioning:

Perhaps the biggest thing that has struck me so far is Nelson’s way of citing her sources. When she’s using someone else’s theory or idea, she puts that theorist’s name in the margin, beside her own text. Sometimes she directly quotes the theorist, sometimes she merely invokes them.

story log entry / 6 dec 2015

Here are 2 examples from Bluets:

12. And please don’t talk to me about “things as they are” being changed upon any “blue guitar.” What can be changed upon a blue guitar is not of interest here. 

I wasn’t what she meant here, but when I googled “blue guitar things as they are” I easily found the reference: Wallace Stevens, “The Man with the Blue Guitar”

107. Many people do not think the writing of Gertrude Stein “means” anything. Perhaps it does not. But when my students complain that they want to throw Tender Buttons across the room, I try to explain to them that in it Stein is dealing with a matter of pressing concern. Stein is worried about hurt colors, I tell them. “A spectacle and nothing strange a single hurt color and an arrangement in a system to pointing,” I read aloud, scanning the room for a face that also shows signs of being worried about hurt colors.

This reference, which involves the invoking of a line, a direct quotation, and a story about her students. It led me to Stein’s poem: A Carafe, that is a Blind Glass and a helpful explanation: The Difference is Spreading: On Gertrude Stein

What to make of this, or why am I mentioning it? I’d like to play more with how I cite my references in my color poems. I also like the idea of the various bits of information/passages/lines of poetry I’ve acquired being much of the substance of my poem.

dec 21/SWIM

2 miles
ywca pool
winter storm warning — snow, wind, cold

Got to the Y with RJP and Scott just as the big winter storm was beginning. Swam for an hour, which is the most I’ve done since open swim ended in August. Mostly, I felt strong. A little tired, a little sore. It was fun to share a lane with RJP. It makes me very happy that she’s swimming again.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. there was a lifeguard today
  2. the leisure pool was open with lots of happy kids, at least one screaming, not in anger but delight
  3. one woman next to me did some side lunges as she walked in her lane
  4. another woman did a strange butterfly stroke — was it butterfly? She was doing the arm motions but not much else, and barely that
  5. as usual, orange everywhere. I looked up and the only color I could see was the orange from the 2 signs on the pool deck
  6. the water seemed a little less cloudy, clearer
  7. some new things (or things I haven’t noticed before) on the pool floor: 2 white somethings — what were they?
  8. after one of the women left, another swimmer came, a man wearing a blue speedo
  9. my nose squeaked as my noseplug shifted, my googles leaked a few times
  10. noticed what a great job RJP does with her streamline off the walls

Before heading over to the y, as I was drinking my coffee, I read some more of Maggie Nelson’s Bluets. Here’s an excerpt that I was thinking about:

40. When I talk about color and hope, or color and despair, I am not taking about the red of a stoplight, a periwinkle line on the white felt oval of a pregnancy test, a black sail strung from a ship’s mast. I am trying to talk about what blue means, or what it means to me, apart from meaning.

Bluets/ Maggie Nelson

I’m interested in how this distinction between meaning and what it means to me works in understandings of color. Also, what meaning means here. Not truth, or what color something actually is, but how it comes to mean something to us. How we’ve collectively decided that a stop sign is red, for example. Not sure if this makes sense, but I’m also thinking about the collective decision we’ve made to understand the line on a pregnancy test as blue and not green or gray or some other color that some of us might be seeing instead. With this last sentence, I’m thinking about more than my vision issues, but the idea that how we see color can be at least partly determined by how we’ve named it. See: Crayola-fication of the world

dec 20/RUN

3.6 miles
trestle turn-around
0 / feels like -16
100% snow-covered

Last year I decided that my limit for cold was a feels like temp of -20. Since it was only -16, I went out for a run by the gorge. It was cold, but not too cold. It felt good to be outside, breathing in fresh air, moving in sunlight, being beside frozen water and snow-covered trees.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. checked out the river at the trestle: all frozen, white and gray, solid, stiff
  2. the steady crunch crunch crunch of my yaktrax on the cold powder
  3. solid chunks of ice littering the path, not boulders, but big enough to hurt my foot or twist my ankle if I ran into or over them
  4. a skein of geese! first I heard their honks, then I stopped to watch them fly across the sky
  5. the roar of a plane
  6. the shadow of a big bird
  7. one other runner, one or two walkers, no dogs, no fat tires, no roller skiers
  8. two walkers below me, walking through the tunnel of trees
  9. a snow blower up above, near longfellow grill
  10. the path was slick and slippery with stripes of ice glowing in the sun


2 pairs of black running tights; 2 pairs of socks –1 gray, 1 white; a green long-sleeved shirt; a pink jacket with hood; a running belt for holding my phone; a gray Hot Dash 10 mile 2017 jacket; a gray buff; a black fleece-lined cap; sunglasses; black gloves; reddish pinkish fleece-lined mittens

Enough layers. The mittens were especially warm. Did it help that I had warmed up on the bike in the basement before heading out for my run? Probably. Neither my fingers or toes were too cold. Hooray?

feels like

It felt cold, but not cold enough to give me a brain freeze. I wore a buff over my mouth to warm my breath. My snot froze a little but not too much. After I took my sunglasses off, because they had fogged up, my eyelashes acquired a few bits of ice. The tops of my thighs felt cold and tingly by the end. No itchy legs or feet that felt like blocks of concrete. Dripping with sweat by the end. My braid, which had wicked all the sweat, froze again into a hard, twisted mass–or mess?

It feels like winter is here for good. Maybe the snow on the trail, too?

Listened to a playlist with only one headphone in, so I could hear the crunching snow and the gorge too. Did I hear any other birds beside the geese? I can’t remember.

I’m very glad I made it outside. I love these winter runs!

ongoing projects, dec 2022

Thought it might be interesting and helpful (for present and future Sara) to make a list of what I’m working on right now:

  • Reading through my entries from 2022 and adding to summaries of my runs, ideas and quotes, and a huge list of things I noticed. Right now I’m halfway through April.
  • Thinking about, reading up on color, especially orange. Trying to write a colorblind plate about orange, particularly how shifty and unreliable it is, and my obsession with seeing/not seeing orange buoys at open swim. Checked out Maggie Nelson’s Bluets for inspiration on how to write about color.
  • Planning my winter writing/creative process class for The Loft. Right now, I’m gathering poems and essays and thinking about my weekly lectures. As part of this, I’m reading/listening to Adam Gopnik’s Winter: 5 Windows on the Season.