jan 23/RUN

4.1 miles
minnhehaha falls
31 degrees / 50+% thin, slippery ice
wintery mix

Stepped outside and felt the sidewalk — at first, it seemed fine, but at the end of the block I realized a lot of it was covered in an invisible sheen of ice. Oh well, too late to turn back. It was never really a problem, although it was pretty slick on the cobblestones at the falls. But I didn’t fall; barely even slipped! Waved a greeting to Santa Claus, heard the kids at the playground, noticed 2 people hiking below under the falls. I watched them step over the rope blocking off the trail.

Stopped at my favorite spot to put in a playlist. Before I started running again on the ice, I took this short footage of the falls:

the falls falling between 2 columns of ice / 23 jan 2024

10 Things Not Seen

  1. the thin layer of ice on the sidewalk and the path
  2. the exact temperature, but I knew it was warm because of how energetic the kids on the playground were
  3. a runner, approaching. I thought I had seen a biker so I was looking for them, meanwhile a runner was approaching me and I had no idea. Saw him a couple seconds before I might have run into him
  4. open water — the river is iced over
  5. the light rail, but I heard its bell as I ran through the park
  6. my shadow — too gloomy and gray
  7. light rain falling — barely felt it either
  8. no fat tires or Daily Walkers or bright blue running tights
  9. the woodpecker knocking on dead wood in the gorge
  10. my breath — too warm today for that!

before the run

I was just about to write that I’ve moved on from windows — my January challenge — to assays and not seing but in midst of thinking it I conjured a new version of windows that I’d like to ruminate on for a moment: a window opening. I like the slight difference that exists between an open window and a window opening. An open window is already open, but a window opening captures the moment when the air first enters and new understandings arrive.

Side note: Suddenly while writing this, I remembered a mention of windows that is almost entirely unrelated to the last paragraph except for it involves windows and not knowing how to open them. I just finished the gothic horror novel. A House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else reading this, but near the end some monstrous creatures are attempting to open a window but they don’t know how. If they did, it would be the end for the main character and her companions. I’ve already returned the book (bummer) or I’d post the actual description here of the strong creatures flailing and not understanding the concept of a window — it’s gross and disturbing and compelling and not recommended when you’re eating lunch (which I was).

I’m about to go out for a run. I’ll try to think about opening windows or windows opening.

during the run

I imagined I might have a few moments where something I noticed felt like a window opening. I didn’t. About a mile in, I decided to do triple beat chants with the word: op en ing/ op en ing — then, op en ing/wel com ing/ won der ing. Thought about the openness of opening versus the confinement of closed, or even closing. After chanting opening for a few minutes, I remember lifting out of my hips and leading with my chest — an opening of my body.

after the run

Walking back after I finished my run, I listened to The Woman in the Window. I heard this and it got me thinking:

“And what’s going with the rest of the block?”

I realize I have no idea. The Takedas, the Millers, even the Wassermen–they haven’t so much as pinged my radar this last week. A curtain has fallen on the street; the homes across the road are veiled, vanished; all that exists are my house and the Russells’ house and the park between us.

Not seeing: being so preoccupied/obsessed with something that everything else doesn’t exist.

Then the narrator continued and I thought some more:

I wonder what’s become of Rita’s contractor. I wonder which book Mrs. Gray has selected for her reading group. I used to log their every activity, my neighbors, used to chronicle each entrance and exit. I’ve got whole chapters of their lives stored on my memory card.

Before the run I had been thinking about what it means to not see. I’d also been thinking about what it means for me to see. I might turn both “Not Seeing” and “Seeing” into poems and submit them to Couplet Poetry for their submissions window next month. Anyway, listening to the first bit from The Woman in the Window, I suddenly thought about how an obsession, being preoccupied with something, like whether a neighbor has been murdered, makes one myopic. And then listening to the second bit, I thought about the new way I see by making note of everything, slowly, habitually noticing all the small, seemingly unimportant and peripheral moments. This is how I see now: moment on moment on moment.

Here’s a poem by Jane Hirshfield. It’s in her “assay” form, which I’ve been studying for the past few days. As I understand it, an assay explores, imagines, tries out different meanings of a word or a concept. Is this an assay about “moment” or am I’m misunderstanding the poem?

Assay Only Glimpsable for an Instant/ Jane Hirshfield

Moment. Moment. Moment.

–equal inside you, moment,
the velocitous mountains and cities rising and falling,
songs of children, iridescence even of beetles.

It is not you the locust can strip of all leaf.

Untouchable green at the center,
the wolf too lopes past you and through you as he eats.

Insult to mourn you, you who mourn no one, unable.

Without transformation,
yours the role of the chorus, to whom nothing happens.
The living step forward: choosing to enter, to lose.

I who am made of you only
speak these words against your unmasterable instruction–

A knife cannot cut itself open,
yet you ask me both to be you and know you.

jan 22/RUN

5.8 miles
the flats and back
26 degrees

(added a few hours later): I almost forgot to mention that this entry is my 2000th post. Not every single one of these entries is about a run, but most of them are. Wow. When I started this project to document marathon training in 2017, I had no idea where it might lead! So happy I’m still here writing and running and noticing!

Hooray for warm (but not too warm) mornings and clear paths and flying geese and frozen rivers and runners in electric blue running tights and frozen seeps and weeping springs and brief visits from shadows and squirrels that don’t dart and not slipping on the few spots where there was snow and chirping birds and laughing woodpeckers and clicking blue jay jaws and running down hills then walking back up them and winter playlists and legs and lungs and hearts that work!

A good run. Before the run, I had a brief wave of anxiety — not for any reason. It just came on all of a sudden — feeling strange, tingly, finding it a littler harder to breathe. Peri-menopause and messed-up hormones, I’ve decided. Running helped, partly because moving always helps and partly because I told myself that I wouldn’t be able to run at a 9:30 pace for so long if something was really wrong with me.

I wasn’t sure how far I’d run this morning, but when I got to the bottom of the franklin hill I had an idea: run until you reach a frozen seep. So I did, which made my run a little longer than usual. What a seep! And falling water from a spring. I thought about crossing the road to get closer to the seep, but there’s no curb and the road isn’t that wide and cars drive faster here then they should, so I didn’t. Instead I took some video from the edge of the trail and then I stood still and marveled at the falling and frozen water, and then the height of the bluff.

frozen seep / weeping spring / 22 jan 2024

After the seep, I ran again until I reached the bottom of the franklin hill, then walked up while I recited ideas for a new poem about the idea of not-seeing. One connection to windows: not seeing a window (or glass) and bumping into it. I’ve read several poems that feature birds who run right into the glass and are dazed. Are there any poems about people? I suppose people mostly (always?) run into glass doors not windows. I’ve done it at least once, while I was studying abroad in Japan. The worst thing about running into glass is the grease smudge your face leaves on the glass. It just stays there, staring at you, embarrassing you — not just because it’s evidence that you ran into the glass, but that your face is greasy.

I’m wondering now: what are the most embarrassing things to not see?

Here’s a poem I found from poem-of-the-day that I’d like to remember.

Arequipa/ Ben Okri

Leaves that fall.
Ought to breed
Fire from stone.
The world counts
On our fall.
Our solitude interests
The butterflies
And the lost gold
Of the afternoons.

Ochre and blue walls
And the fading peaks
Of volcanoes
And the sunlight
Plummeting beyond
The hills waken
Leaves to their
Lost trees.

To discover
You still have
A world
To make
At sunset
The stones.

Love the brevity of this poem and the double-meaning of the first line: leaves from that fall and leaves that fall down. Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru (south of Lima, slightly inland — 100km from the coast).

jan 20/RUN

4.35 miles
minnehaha falls and back
5 degrees

Back outside! Cold, but much warmer than Tuesday. Low (ish) wind, plenty of sunshine, clear paths. I felt a little tired and sore, but still happy to be outside. Was planning to do my usual routine of running without music, then putting some in at my favorite spot by the falls, but I forgot my headphones. Oh well, if I had been listening to music I might not have heard a goose honking.

10 Things

  1. startled some birds in the brush on the path near the ramp that winds down to the falls bridge — some rustling noises, then a silver flash as the sun caught the feathers on one of the bird’s wings — it reminded me of Eamon Grennan’s line about a lark’s silver trail in Lark-luster or EDickinson’s silver seam in A Bird, came down the Walk
  2. the falls were hidden behind columns of ice
  3. a few people (3 or 4?) walking on the frozen creek, admiring the falls from up close
  4. falling water sound: tinkling, sprinkling, shimmering
  5. the creek was frozen over, with just a few open spots where the water flowed beneath it
  6. running past the stretch of woods near the ford bridge — all the leaves are gone, the small rise up to the bridge fully visible
  7. crunch crunch crunch as my feet struck the ground — not slippery or hard or too soft
  8. my shadow, sharp lines, solid, dark, lamp post shadow, softer, fuzzier
  9. the rhythm of a faster runner’s legs as they passed me — a steady lift lift lift — so graceful
  10. a lone geese honking — not seen, only heard

Somewhere near the Horace Cleveland overlook (near the double bridge), I thought about interiors and exteriors and how you can look in or out of windows and then outside as the abstract/thinking/theorizing/writing and inside as the body. I want to remove the barrier between these, to mix writing with being/doing/moving as a body. Then lines from Maggie Smith’s “Threshold” popped into my head: You want a door you can be on both sides of at once. You want to be on both sides of here and there now and then…Yes, I do.

added 21 jan 2024: Reading through a past entry this morning I suddenly remembered the black capped chickadee calling out their fee bee song so loudly as I ran up the hill between locks and dam no. 1 and the double bridge. Wow! I recall thinking they were in beast mode (a reference to Michael Brecker and how some people describe his playing).

Jane Hirshfield’s Ten Windows, Chapter 6 (Close Reading: Windows)

Many good poems have a kind of window-moment in them–they change their direction of gaze in a way that suddenly opens a broadened landscape of meaning and feeling. Encountering such a moment, the reader breathes in some new infusion, as steeply perceptible as any physical window’s increase of light, scent, sound, or air. The gesture is one of lifting, unlatching, releasing; mind and attention swing open to new-peeled vistas.

windows offer an opening, a broadened landscape, fresh air, a lifting, unlatching, releasing, expansion, an escape or a way into somewhere else

In this chapter, Hirshfield does a close reading of ED’s “We Grow Accustomed to the Dark” — yes!

I have called the third stanza (And so of larger — Darkness –/Those Evenings of the Brain –) the poem’s first window, but for me, the true window in Dickinson’s poem is contained in one word; its quick, penultimate, slipped-in “almost.” (And Life steps almost straight). The effect is so disguised it feels more truly trap-door than window: On this close-to-weightless “almost,” the poem’s assurance stumbles, catches. Its two syllables carry the knowledge that there are events in our lives from which no recovery is possible.

I love Emily Dickinson’s almost in this poem. The space it gives — the possibilities — for living your life otherwise. It seems that Hirshfield reads this almost as unfortunate — you almost made it back to your normal life after the darkness, but not quite. I don’t. There’s so much room (and a lot less pressure) in the almost! So much to write about this idea, so little time right now.

In the chapter, Hirshfield references a “popular” Dickinson poem that I’ve never encountered before:

The Brain — is wider than the Sky — (1863) J632/ Emily Dickinson

The Brain — is wider than the Sky —
For — put them side by side —
The one the other will contain
With ease — and You — beside —

The Brain is deeper than the sea —
For — hold them — Blue to Blue —
The one the other will absorb —
As Sponges — Buckets — do —

The Brain is just the weight of God —
For — Heft them — Pound for Pound —
And they will differ — if they do —
As Syllable from Sound —

I’d like to put this into conversation with my mid-run ideas about the body and the mind — maybe add Mary Oliver’s ideas about the difference between a poem and the world from The Leaf and the Cloud too.

jan 19/BIKERUN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Magritte and windows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jan 18/BIKERUN

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

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

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

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

Tip Toe Thru’ the Tulips with Me/Annette Hanshaw

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

Open a New Window/Mame Soundtrack

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

Look Through Any Window/The Hollies

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

Nan You’re a Window Shopper/Lily Allen

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

Window/Fiona Apple

Window/Daniel G. Hoffman

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

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

Window Shopping/Just Derrick

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

Junk/Paul McCartney

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

From Junk:

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

Bust Your Windows/Jazmine Sullivan

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

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

jan 16

4.25 miles
minnehaha falls and back
0 degrees / feels like -20

Brr. I really bundled up for this one, even busted out the big guns: toe and finger warmers. They worked!

layers: 2 pairs of black running tights, a green base layer shirt, pink jacket with hood, purple jacket zipped up to my chin, black fleece cap with ear flaps, pink and orange buff covering my mouth, 2 pairs of socks — gray, white — with toe warmers in between them, 1 pair of black gloves, 1 pair of pink/red/green mittens, hand warmers, sunglasses

My forehead felt a little cold at the beginning, but mostly I felt warm enough. My legs started to get sore near the end, which I think was because of the cold: not enough blood to my calf/thigh because it was going to my vital organs — I read that somewhere a few years ago.

10+ Things

  1. a regular! the runner, Santa Claus
  2. the river, frozen — light brown mixed with white, flat
  3. the feebee call of the black-capped chickadee
  4. a few squirrels, scampering
  5. running straight into the sun: my sharp shadow, so sharp I could see the shadow of my breath
  6. one biker — brrr
  7. brittle leaves, scratching on the pavement
  8. a sharp squeak, almost like a little bunny crying out: trees creaking in the wind
  9. the falls, near the ledge: half frozen, sounding like the spray hose on a kitchen sink
  10. the falls, by the overlook: gushing, rushing past the ice, flushing out the bottom
  11. beep beep beep of a truck backing up, sounding flat and smaller than usual
  12. the light rail across Hiawatha rushing by — I wondered how cold the commuters were
  13. almost forgot this one: the wind moving fast through dead leaves on some trees sounded like sizzling heat. I heard it just as the wind was blowing in my face and I felt particularly cold. I imagined it was so cold that it was hot

before my run

I’m in the slow process of reviewing my entries from 2023, a month at a time. Right now, April. On April 18th, I wrote about some ideas from writers/poets that were inspiring my thoughts about an eighth colorblind plate poem on the glitter effect. Paige Lewis and A.R. Ammons and flares and flames and rust. And now I’m thinking about writing one more colorblind plate poem that describes how my own color system works using texture and movement and contrast. It replaces ROYGBIV. Maybe I’ll try and think about it more as I run — when I’m not thinking about how cold I am!

a process note: Rereading all of my entries for the year and summarizing them takes a long time, but it’s worth it. Not only does it offer useful summaries, but going back and reencountering words/ideas/experiences offers new inspiration or old, half-finished projects (like the colorblind plates). And the laborious process of doing this structured task sometimes opens me up to wandering and remembering and imagining that can lead to new words and new ways in.

task: on my run, try to think about motion and texture

during my run

As predicted, I focused mostly on noticing the cold and the wind — such a cold wind in my face! I do remember thinking that the river was flat and stuck, with no sparkle or motion. I thought about contrast with the shadows. Leaves shaking in the wind. Oh — and I thought about how the small things I notice — the little flashes of movement, sound, texture — accumulate into something bigger. This is part of the conversation I started yesterday about flares versus slow burns and whether or not to dazzle. None of the things I notice Dazzle! in a quick burst, but together they add up to something special. After thinking of this idea, I remember Hannah Emerson’s poem, “Peripheral” and the lines:

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.

after the run

And now, remembering all of these ideas, I’m suddenly thinking of Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant –”

The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —

Yes, dazzle means to be temporarily blinded by light, or overpowered with light. What does this have to do with what I’m working on right now? Not sure.

And now, back to windows. Here’s a small poem I found the other day that I like. It’s part of a larger series of poems titled, Still Life:

Window/ Phillip Murray

Through the dark
It is light

jan 15/BIKERUN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

an excerpt from Over Time/ Martha Collins


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

All the time in the world.

And out of this world?

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

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

jan 14/CORE

15 minutes
yoga mat, bedroom
outside: -2 degrees, feels like -21

I’m trying to incorporate some core exercises into my training. I’m 49 and I know if I want to keep running for several more decades, I need to think about (and do something about) things like my core — what did they call it before core became the trend? Abs?

What types of attention/writing/creating experiments can I do with my core exercises? Maybe something connected to the core as center, sturdy, sound, robust, stable, solid, durable.

Here are the core exercises I tried today, most of which came from this post: 12 great core exercises

  1. bent arm plank — 40 seconds
  2. 10 push-ups
  3. 15 dead bugs (love these)
  4. 15 bird dogs
  5. 12 supermans
  6. 12 Single leg glute bridge
  7. 15 In and Outs
  8. 15 Runner’s crunch
  9. 15 Reverse crunch
  10. Side Planks — 40 seconds on each side
  11. 15 Side leg lifts

Am I doing these right, and are they the right exercises to do? We’ll see. If I had access to a pool, I would just swim laps, but I don’t this year.

Here’s the window poem of the day, which I found while listening to my window playlist:

Windows/Rachel Sherwood

From this height
the sunset spans the whole world
before me: houses and trees are shadows
neon flares between them like sudden fire
the freeways run, always
strangely vacant with riderless cars
empty air

the windows up here
refract the blue slate and rose light
making the hills on the horizon collide
with ideas of Sussex, piedmont
or the cold clear wind of the Abruzzi
but that is never what is out there.

At home, the lamp curls its aurora
into the corners of the room
and out the windows
squares, rectangles of light
stake out a territory on the ragged lawn.

In the center of things
between the pressing of the window and air
— a small space —
there is a meeting that defines
nothing, everything.

Love this idea of the small space as meeting defining nothing and everything.

jan 13/BIKERUN

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

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

Emily Dickinson’s Windows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jan 12/BIKERUN

bike: 10 minute warm-up
run: 3.5 miles
river road, south/north
9 degrees / feels like -5
wind: 13 mph/ 24 mph gusts

Sometimes running when it’s this cold isn’t that difficult, especially when there’s sun and no wind. Today there was no sun* and plenty of wind and it was hard. Not all of the time, but often.

But who cares when the river looks like it does today?! Half covered in ice, mostly gray and brown, open and vast.

And who wouldn’t want to be out here when the geese are flying overhead, their honks swirling around all of us below, sounding mournful and harsh and wild?

And who isn’t grateful to have an almost empty trail — no thoughts or distractions, only a few other people, and most of them below on the lower path?

*I guess there was some sun, but it was hidden behind the clouds. The only time I noticed it was when I was running north up a hill straight into the wind — I saw the faintest trace of my shadow. Hello friend! If I wasn’t paying attention or if I hadn’t trusted what I saw, I might not have noticed her.

Listened to the cold as I ran south — what does the cold sound like? jagged breaths, sharp sounds suspended, silence. Listened to my Window playlist running back north.

Windows can certainly change lives in all sorts of ways. “Faith goes out through the window when beauty comes in at the door,” quips the English philosopher George Edward Moore. “Well,” says Julie Andrews, not yet breaking into song, but you never know, as she gazes out onto those hills alive with something, “when one door closes, another window opens.” She’s opened us onto the window of film, so how best to set the scene? “An actor entering through the door, you’ve got nothing. But if he enters through the window, you’ve got a situation.” says Billy Wilder.

Pleasure and Pane: songs about windows

This article offered a lot of great suggestions for window songs to add to my playlist, which is now over an hour.

window playlist

  1. Window/Fiona Apple
  2. Window/Genesis
  3. Smokin’ Out the Window/Silk Sonic
  4. Keep Passing the Open Window/Queen
  5. Lookin’ Through the Windows/Jackson 5
  6. I Threw a Brick Through a Window/U2
  7. When I’m Cleaning Windows/George Formby
  8. Skyscraper/Demi Lovato
  9. At My Window Say and Lonely/Billy Bragg & Wilco
  10. My Own Worst Enemy/Lit
  11. Junk/Paul McCartney
  12. In a Glass House/Gentle Giant
  13. Belly Button Window/Jimmy Hendrix
  14. Look Through Any Window/The Hollies
  15. The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)/Missy Elliott
  16. One Way Out/Sonny Boy Williams
  17. Silhouettes/The Rays
  18. The Glass/Foo Fighters
  19. Tip Toe Thru’ the Tulips/Annette Hanshaw
  20. Waving Through a Window/Dear Evan Hanson
  21. Open a New Window/Mame
  22. Open Your Window/Ella Fitzgerald
  23. Fly Through My Window/Pete Seeger

Today I put the playlist on shuffle and heard: 3, 5, 10, 16, 2, 9

an hour later: Not for the first time, I’m starting to read an article about Emily Dickinson’s windows. It’s really good, but dense, so I’ve always put it off. Will I get through it today? Maybe. Anyway, I started reading it, and encountered a map of Amherst with a note: The Dickinson house is circled in red.

an old black and white image (lithograph?) of Amherst, with Emily Dickinson's house circled in red. The only way I'm able to see the circle is if I put the computer screen up to my face and look at it through my peripheral vision.
Amherst, 1886

Can you easily see the red circle? I can’t. The only way I am able to see it is if I put my face up right against the screen and look at it through the side of my eye. Only then do I see a trace of red — the idea of red. Once I see (or feel?) the red, I can see a faint circle and I can tell that it’s red, but it’s not RED! but red?

The other day, Scott, FWA, and I were discussing the scenes in Better Call Saul that are set in the present day and are in black and white. Scott and FWA both agreed that those were harder to watch — they had to pay more careful attention — because they lacked color, which is harder because visual stories often rely heavily on color to communicate ideas/details. I said I didn’t realize that they were in black and white; they didn’t look any different to me than the other scenes, which are in vivid color (at least that’s what they tell me). I realized something: it’s not that I don’t see color, it just doesn’t communicate anything to me, or if it communicates it’s so quiet that I don’t notice what it’s saying.

Back to the image with the red circle. The main point of the image is to enable you to quickly and easily see where the Dickinson home is located in the town. If I hadn’t read the text below it, I never would have known there was a circle, and the main point of the image would be lost on me. This happens a lot. Things that are obvious to most people, aren’t to me. More than that, they don’t exist. Of course it’s very frustrating and difficult, but it’s also fascinating to recognize this, and helpful to understand it.