A cloth diaper hero is something to be (unless you prefer disposables! You do you!)

Cloth diapering IS as easy as they say, you DO save (quite a bit) of money, and you don’t feel terrible the way you do when you throw away a disposable. Some people even like the way they look and that they become softer and more absorbent with each wash.

When I was doing my research I couldn’t believe all of the options (and how much people had to say about them!) so in an attempt to counterbalance all of that business I’m just going to say what has worked for me and hope it clears it up for someone else.

Before my daughter was born I used Amazon girt cards I was given at my shower and ordered two packages of Newborn size prefolds (about $40 for 12 diapers). After I had her about a month I ordered two more packages of prefolds, this time in Regular size.

In five months I’ve essentially been given four packages (96) prefolds, three All-In-Ones (Mom), and nine covers (three new from Mom, six hand-me-downs from friends). I’ve bought five packages (about 150) disposable diapers, one of which remains unopened.

Imogen rockin’ BumGenius All-in-One at Goat Rock beach, Sonoma County, Calif.

OsoCozy Unbleached Prefolds seemed the most straightforward, and I appreciated their website, that included pdfs on different kinds of folds. You simply fold them, using an ingenious fastener to keep them on, put a cute cover over them and you’re done.

I was advised to buy two dozen and not to skip the Newborn size: I’m glad I followed this as my daughter weighed 7.9 at birth and was in the Newborn size her first two and a half months. I couldn’t have put bigger ones on her at that time.

Imogen giving Dad a classic look in a Newborn size (< 10 lbs.) Unbleached OsoCozy Prefold, Snappi fastener…
...and Grovia hybrid shell (cover)
…and Grovia hybrid shell (cover)

With two dozen diapers, you can pretty safely say you will be adding an extra load of laundry every three days. You wash them on hot with a pre-rinse, and an extra rinse afterwards. You don’t need to use a lot of detergent, and you don’t use fabric softener.

Another thing I love is that the more you use these, the softer and more absorbent they become. I dried mine on the line or on the radiators when we lived in Germany but now in Juneau I toss them in the dryer – where there is obviously less advance planning required.

Dad thought they were good for keeping her warm, too!
Dad thought they were good for keeping her warm, too!

As it happened, we made our almost 5,000 mile move from Germany to Alaska right at the time Imogen outgrew her baby diapers, so we used the disposables while we were traveling in December and busted out her Regular sized prefolds once we got to our cabin in Juneau.

I cannot imagine she would be a fan of these photos, but her proud mommy posts them regardless with so much love…

Imogen in a Regular size (15 - 30 lb.) Unbleached OsoCozy Prefold, Snappi fastener...
Imogen in a Regular size (15 – 30 lb.) Unbleached OsoCozy Prefold, Snappi fastener…
And the same size Grovia cover (just let out a bit)!

So there you have it, my journey thus far with cloth diapering… I am pleased as punch with this decision and my DH is on board as well… he calls it “diaper origami” when I fold her diaper but he actually does just fine.

At the beginning I was very overwhelmed, as I said… there are so many different kinds, so much of everything… I hope this helps someone. If anyone has a question please ask! I leave you with another picture of our sweet girl being changed in the back of a car…

Imogen in mittens, hat, and Mother-ease Air Flow Cover, Lena Beach, Juneau, Alaska

You only turn 38 once!

Started out the sunny summer day in our new happy place, a watering hole on the Zieg, a Rhein tributary!
Started out the sunny summer day in our new happy place, a watering hole on the Sieg, a Rhein tributary!
After swimming, a Wundertüte (literally "wonderful bag") was in order!
After swimming, the much-anticipated Wundertüte (literally “wonderful bag”) at our local gelateria was in order.
Present time and he liked the shirt I got him, phew, yay!
Present time and he liked the shirt I got him, phew, yay!
Rushed the lattice on my strawberry pie but it turned out great and I can't wait to try it again!
Rushed the lattice on my strawberry pie but it turned out great and I can’t wait to try it again!
Lovely guy on the walk back from our fish dinner at a Spanish-Portugese restaurant on the river...
My lovely guy pauses for a photo op on the walk back from our fish dinner at a Spanish-Portugese restaurant on the river…
...and ended the day with a lil' garden party. Happy birthday Jake!!  'Enjoy the little things in life because one day you`ll look back and realize they were the big things.' -Vonnegut
…and we ended the day with pie in the garden with our sweet neighbors.

‘Enjoy the little things in life because one day you`ll look back and realize they were the big things.’ -Vonnegut

Happy birthday Jake!!


Good Guys

This last weekend when 700 refugees vanished from a German center in Lower Saxony, migration experts said they had ‘no idea’ what could have motivated the young, able-bodied refugees, some of whom have just walked across nine countries, to leave, instead of sitting around waiting around for their half of a banana.

Movement is helpful – it gets the blood flowing to the brain – and you don’t need to tell a war refugee that any actual place is better than purgatory.

It is difficult to handle this influx: that’s the main sentence these days. It’s about much more than that.

The EU look pretty bad for supporting Turkey, whose (‘snap’) recently re-elected government has made things so difficult for its own people in its quest for power, intellectuals will opine it is ‘corrupt from the inside.’

But Turkey, who is more hospitable, and more tolerant, and who has been dealing with Syrian refugees a lot longer than have the Europeans, didn’t even raise a fuss until the Europeans, who are sick of the refugees already after only three months, brought them up.

Here’s how they ‘brought them up’: Germany’s chancellor, who ‘knows all about’ Turkey’s recent ‘humanitarian’ record gave Turkey money to deal with the refugees, which is not a bad thing on its own, but the EU should know that they can’t give three billion dollars to the current government two weeks before an election, and then be upset that now they have to play by that elected government’s rules.

When all the refugees started flooding into Germany I had just arrived here to live as well, and was proud of the German chancellor’s welcoming stance, but now in her selfie with the refugee all I see is a grimace. She didn’t take a principled stand for the good like people thought she had, because no one does in politics that I can see.

My grandfather used to wear a ball cap that said “Good Guys” in white on black, and last night when I was up thinking about all of this my mind went to the way he thrashed around while he was dying and they kept giving him more morphine. After he was gone, it took my mother and my grandmother and me exactly ten minutes to clear everything out of his room at the nursing home, and the last thing I placed in the box was a shirt my mother bought for him that still had the tags on it.

What is the point of having people in charge if no one can be a good guy, if no one can help the good guys?  A complete free-for-all would be better than this “let’s have a meeting about this transit zone” or let’s get together to discuss the possibility of that refugee status card,” because in a borderless free-for-all, at least it would be our own individual lives that were the guiding force. As it is now, babies are washing up on shores, and thousands more people are about to freeze, because of others’ indecision.

We need new ideas. The US and the EU both need to stop placating Saudi Arabia. If we could lessen our dependence on Saudi Arabia’s oil, for example, suddenly that country would find themselves with less money to send weapons to Syria.

No one in the US understands how deeply Iran is involved in Syria. We’ve been willing to bomb Syria for the past year, but we only started talking to Iran last week? When did sitting down and talking about something face to face become more threatening to us than military action? When did we all become such pussies?

I did hear a good story about astronauts. On the first three days of their mission this is how it went: on the first day, they talked about which country they were from. On the second day, looking down at Earth, they talked about it in terms of their continent. By the third day, they were speaking of their planet.

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.  – Emily Dickinson

Last night was the last night of AirVenture 2011, aka EAA, where I worked as a cashier selling reusable cleaning cloths!  Some highlights were riding my bike in past all the cars in the morning, chatting with the prop technicians in the booth next door from Redding, CA, and, having worked the day, going out in the boat with EP and Jeff and watching the vintage aircrafts fly over Lake Winnebago from the water.

They were fast!

But, alas, another cobbled-together job has come to an end and now I find in front of me the only road left, the Real Job, the job that I can find and then relax, the job that I can be at Peace with.  I have a new Degree and no debt, and also no money which leaves me feeling like I am sitting on one of those little cloths I was selling, my butt hanging over the sides.  It is very well-constructed, but how does it get off the ground?

A moment can move on and still stay with us, it’s one of the most beautiful things in life, Robert Hass’ Mississippi John Hurt lines in the poem about his brother, Ryan Gosling honoring the spirit of Patrick Swayze in his recent film, and in a thirty-three year-old, not-even-really girl anymore, back to the drawing board again, or perhaps there, officially, for the first time, thinking back on what she has to give to the next phase of life.

In Istanbul post-undergrad/pre-graduate school I taught English, wrote in my journal, and watched the O.C.

…and the little book I came across last night that reminded me of those days.  Maybe it’s a non-sequitor, but I just don’t want to forget her.


Time to start looking for what’s out there.  No pressure in a bad way.  I’m looking everywhere…

I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion. – Kerouac

It’s from On the Road, which I should read again. The ones who never yawn.  So sick at heart.  Tired, tired.  Tired.

Knew he was on the train but couldn’t see him anymore.  Bumped into a couple people on the way back to the car I was so out of it.

Rosemary calls me “babysitter.”  It’s our first day together tomorrow and I have a feeling I am going to need all of my energy to be a good one.

My trip is over but maybe a new one is beginning inside of me, we can always hope.

I just like that quotation a lot, all of these stars in me again falling.

Rm in her new boots.

Sylvia Plath, Modern-ish Postmodernist essay

 Sylvia Plath, Modern-ish Postmodernist
            In a letter to Olive Higgins Prouty, her benefactress, in 1955, Sylvia Plath named the ability to accept the necessity of tragedy and conflict as the constant struggle in mature life: in choosing to “deal with” these somber complexities rather than escaping to some “falsely simple solution which does not include them,” she reached maturity as a human being and as a writer.  From what we know of Plath from her letters, we can infer that this awareness informed her poems and prose to a high degree: so much of her work deals with tragedy and conflict—her father’s death and her problems in her marriage, just to name two.  But what is she saying here specifically, and how did it inform her life and work in a literal sense?  How can knowing this iconic writer felt this way over half a century ago be useful to writers today, in 2010? 
            In answering this question my instinct is to lean on the Blakean notion that without contraries there is no progression, apt in this case in that life’s “contraries” (a nice way to put it) have always given writers raw material/“fodder” for poems, but it is not one hundred percent suitable in Plath’s case: “Ironically enough, I write best when I am happy,” she said in a letter to her mother, “because I then have that saving sense of objectivity which is humor and artistic perspective.”  It is a bit of a surprise but it also makes sense; struggle alone doesn’t seem to lend itself particularly to the creation of something new: rather it seems, objectively, to stay in the same place.  The two statements seem contradictory unless we find that thing that is happiness and the impulse for artistic creation within struggle; how is it possible?  The question seems key in the development of a clear understanding of Plath’s work. 
            In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Joyce coined the term “aesthetic arrest,” which basically meant that, better than pulling the viewer toward or pushing her away from art, it is better to be in a state of arrest, to vacillate between the normal, E-G-B-D-F, five-line scale of musical composition, rather than going way above and down below more effective for artists within the composition of their art.  To keep ourselves sane (i.e., “happy”) while we are “composing,” then, this “static radiance” is what allows us to see up to those heights, to the depths below, and to be able to convey something of their significance.  In other words, a writer can’t reside in the absolute existential limits and still get her work done: there is too much fear of falling (and perhaps rightfully so).  “Be regular and ordinary in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work,” as Flaubert famously put it. 
You need distance, but what is ironic is that you need to go back to where you already were before you knew you needed distance to achieve that distance.  Why couldn’t you have just stayed there? is the question that begs to be asked, and it is an excellent question that I’m not sure I can answer.  In the former quotation at the beginning of this essay, Plath references “some falsely simple solution”: one should not try to escape to rather than dealing with struggle.  The best answer I can think of is that, having reached the heights, and spent some time there before having arrived back in your own, “safe” middle would hardly seem false or simple: moreover, it would be to have arrived back at the place you were before it happened to or all around you, (or both), and know it, and be able to go on from there.  As Eliot said.     

Brink of Adieu.

Sitting here in a packed-up room wide awake, I have definitely been here before.

The last things have found their places in this bag “Potpourri:” feather boa, pink helmet, and now Scotch tape and a Tiffany box.

Someone will love these items.  If not, they are just parts of a life.

Left a note for the Frenchman that says hello and thank you only in French and asks him to wake me up at 6, I hope I left it somewhere where it doesn’t blow off his breakfast tray, it’s windy tonight.

Windy for here.

My best friend Jenny had a baby girl today.  She’s been pregnant almost exactly the time I’ve been gone.  I was still having the knives in the stomach at the Van Trang when she told me via Skype.

She was probably having knives of her own, and I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve a partial naming-after besides writing Jen some quotations said by Oprah in the nineties, but I love this baby already.

Time is so timelike. -Deborah Keenan

Ten minutes from this time tomorrow I will be boarding the plane.  I will sit down in my seat and stare out the window and I mean stare.

In my purse will be notes from the kids.  As the plane takes off I’ll close my eyes and hopefully sleep.

Flying home.

O’Brien and LBH’s

Nicole’s roommate (she is American, aged 22 years) calls expats “LBH’s” which stands for losers back home: I wonder about this.

It doesn’t make me so mad: we’re just losers in that we have lost.  Everyone has, and, like everyone,  we had courage for something but not something else.

Looking at the chance to love it is best to walk away, to paraphrase Anne Carson: it’s not what we usually tell the youth of today.

It deserves more time, more thoughtful consideration.

O’ Brien on courage:

Courage, I seemed to think, comes to us in finite quantities, like an inheritance, and by being frugal and stashing it away and letting it earn interest, we steadily increase our moral capital in preparation for that day when the account must be drawn down.

I am excited about this.  As O’ Brien also says, it makes the day-to-day failings much easier to cope with.

My view on love today: something as big as a monster just looking at me.

And then I laugh, and it laughs, and we keep laughing until we have to stop, which is hopefully never.


So it takes about six months to get used to living anywhere, I’ve decided.  Because if I am actually used to it here now, well.  Yeah.

I’m closing in on what once seemed an impossible distance; eight weeks now remain of this part of my life called Vietnam.

Luckily for me I made some travel plans and I hope these all happen: Vung Tau Dec. 26-7, Singapore Jan. 9-12, Philippines Jan. 31-Feb 8th.  What.  About.  Angkor Wat.  Boo. 😦

And yet.  It is hard to imagine what my current state of mind would be had I not decided to go to Thailand; even my Vietnam trip early on offered a lot in terms of perspective. 

How am I used to it here (I decided today)?

1.) I sleep late on my days off.  There is not a lot to do during the day.  So I stay up late and sleep late. 

2.) I know how to spend my free time: I have one beautiful coffee shop/art gallery I can walk to, and I spend the rest of the time in the yoga studio (2 classes every MWF). 

After that it is dinner (which I eat by myself with a book) and writing if I am lucky, followed (usually) by youtube. 

I don’t watch tv, because I think it’s depressing, and I can’t concentrate at home enough to read anything longer than the NYTimes online. 

3.) I call home whenever I feel like it.  Hearing a friendly voice helps me be less grouchy heading into the long weekends of teaching.  I’m a much better teacher when I’m in a good mood, duh. 

Maybe it sounds like a boring existence, but I don’t think anyone will judge me, why would they?  The point is I made this relentless city work for me somehow: I see that now. 

There was a time when I actually didn’t think I would be able to do this.  It’s not been easy, and I am proud of myself for sticking it out.

I don’t know what I’ll do yet after I graduate from Hamline in May, but the most important thing is not where I am but who I have around me. 

I have been exhausted to the brink of tears at times thinking about how much I miss certain people.  If I do move to another city, I would like to see if anyone will join me. 

It’s not, as they say, science.

Happy Christmas all.

You do know how much you help me; I couldn’t get on at all if it weren’t for you. -Virginia Woolf, Letters VI


“To fall into despair is just a high-class way of turning into a dope.” – Saul Bellow

“There comes a moment, with increasing frequency when artists feel that they are hopelessly surrounded by goats and monkeys. I am against falling into despair because of superficial observations such as the foregoing.

Actually, I’ve never stopped looking for the real thing; and often I find the real thing. To fall into despair is just a high-class way of turning into a dope. I choose to laugh, and laugh at myself no less than at others.” -Saul Bellow


Cheersing my own reflection in the mirror tonight it occurs to me that I have become my own best friend.

My new mind-set is not without problems: I am getting a little tired of knowing how I feel all the time.  But as there is no one around to tell me not to analyze it, I know that the FACT that I do know counts for something.  And what it counts for.  Exactly.

So I am halfway through my contract here in Vietnam as of this past Wednesday.  As these things go i.e. fractions, the end of the second third is coming around.  I will have gotten back from Thailand 8 days before its commencement, unless that word means “begin.”

I have a new routine which enables me to write a lot these days which means I get to spend a lot of time rearranging words, and everything I write gets shorter and shorter, and with each word I take away something, like another word that may make sense, takes its place.

Significance of the image is only revealed in the act of preserving it, & the vow to be the one who sustains that significance must continually endow it with attention to the exlusion of real life, the everyday passing… -Fanny Howe

So I am thinking of this quotation even after I am at work making asinine comments about the Haunted House schedule.  But I have an idea what I am going to be for Halloween.  And it was an amazing day today, I hope that you believe me.



Don’t give up.  Never, ever, ever give up: Michael Scott said it to Jim Halpert when Pam got engaged to Roy on that ship, sorry if you haven’t seen that one yet.

Yes, I esteem the writers like those on The Office, but that’s not the point: art comes out of troublesome, imperfect times… it might be hiding in the looking for a quiet place.

If we can say art is borne from inner conflict, what of the green grass of my home?  And how precious that I get to know it and this and cold wind and quiet and twilight.

I wish I understood the beauty/ in leaves falling. -David Ignatow
…am I wrong to wonder about their little lives?

We’d rather have the iceberg than the ship,/although it meant the end of travel. – Elizabeth Bishop

We’d rather have the iceberg than the ship,/although it meant the end of travel. -E. Bishop

In those first few days I
wanted to record everything
The old Westerner
sitting up straight in the cyclo
the way I had earlier
& I was trying to
read critical essays
but there was so much
more all the time which is good,
which is what Bishop
meant in “Casabianca:”
love’s the this,
the boy on the burning
deck and the sailors.

Apartment searching on the brink of the rainy season

Well hello friends…so it has been almost a week for me here in Saigon and I am starting to feel like a local. I have really started to appreciate certain things about the culture and am already, as was predicted, looking forward to getting out of the super-touristy area I landed in.

Woke up this a.m. feeling a lot better and finally began to search for apartments. The most promising one so far is an “expat guesthouse” located near my school, 300 USD/mo., shared space with 5 other teachers. From the outside the place doesn’t look like much–actually from the inside it doesn’t really either. It is located on a dusty street and you need a to open a gate to get in. I will have a room with AC and a bed and a closet, my own bathroom, use of the kitchen, living room, and rooftop terrace, and, believe it or not, a maid who does the laundry (even ironing)!

The main thing that I have had to get used to is the HEAT–it can really get to you and make you so tired. I drink about 2 L of water a day and just soak it all in. Last night there was a lizard on my wall in my hotel, as if to remind me where I was in case I forgot. I am looking forward to getting into a place where I can put all my stuff away–the transition period can be rather stressful as of course all I want to do is write poems and I can’t really do that when I have to get these life things out of the way shelter, figure out what food to eat, money etc. But I have a plan that once I get into this place and get new sheets and a lamp and get my AC going the words will start flowing again.

The other travelers I meet stress me out as well sometimes–it can be enough to just keep yourself sane without having to hear with every new person that they are homesick, they talk about how hard it is to be away from home and it just makes me wonder what they talk about when they are home and why they would decide to come all the way to Vietnam.

That said, I have the urge to call people from home a lot, the only reason I don’t is because I don’t know phone numbers. I have read and reread the comments DK wrote on my poems about 25 times since she gave them back to me, I’ve kept them in my carry-on, I’ve taken them to every cafe. I kept them in my bed with me when I was sick.

Virginia Woolf once said “I never travel without my diary. It is important to have something sensational to read in the train.” It is for the future poems that I am doing this. When I remember that, surprisingly it makes it all a little easier–they don’t even exist yet and already they are so reliable.

“‘Mad with introspecting joy,’ I sometimes think to myself in these hours I spend alone, but what does that even mean?” – Laurie Sheck

“‘Mad with introspecting joy,’ I sometimes think to myself in these hours I spend alone, but what does that even mean?” – Laurie Sheck
I usually don’t do book reviews… but I am reading A Monster’s Notes by Laurie Sheck right now and I have to say it is amazing if you like almost impossible books…

Birthday countdown

Well, it’s my thirty-second birthday in three days; soon I will have made it longer than Sylvia Plath and Lizzie Siddal; one of my favorite moments so far involves watching “Othello,” the Laurence Fishburne version, with my Riverside Shakespeare, highlighting all of my favorite lines just in terms of how I could apply them to my own life, because that is what you do when you are young.

I started this blog when I was dating someone who suggested it; I’m glad I listened to him even though he said what he said about Ranch dressing. I have really come a long way since middle school when the joke involved tapioca pudding.

I didn’t know yet, then, the importance of making myself laugh; I didn’t know that if I didn’t learn how to laugh at myself I would go berserk. I just want people to read this blog; read anything I write.