Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Holy Cow, Guys!

Thank you, thank you, thank you x 2,000 to the Sustainable Arts Foundation for selecting my application for the 2014 Spring Promise Award!  The Sustainable Arts Foundation works to support artists with families, which is such a valuable and important mission. I'm so honored to be among the artists listed!

This post is a bit late, because the news came shortly after my grandma passed away and right before Matthew's graduation from law school.  I read this poem, originally published at Verse Wisconsin, at my grandma's funeral.  

I can't believe it's still May-- it seems like a year has gone by in the past few weeks.  For Memorial Day weekend, we attended our niece's first birthday party, visited my mom, and headed up to the woods. It was Phoebe's first time in Pickerel, where I spent all of my weekends growing up. It was so good for all of us to eat s'mores and leave for a while.




Sunday, April 27, 2014

Poetry Binge

Yesterday, I devoured poetry.  Two of my favorite things:

This Poetry Foundation podcast about this iPad commercial from January.  I'd seen the commercial originally on TV when it aired in January, but I'd forgotten about it, and the conversation about the poem and Walt Whitman in this podcast is kind of great.

Carrie Fountain's poems in Better blew my mind.  You can read them here.  I think writing about children, and babies maybe particularly, is super-challenging, so I'm impressed when poets pull it off in a way that is surprising and real.  I bought Burn Lake and am looking forward to reading her new book in September.

Today was the first "hot" day of the year. I use quotes, because it didn't get to 70,  but I went for walk, and the sun burned my skin a bit and my face was red when I got in from my walk.  Where I live now, my backyard faces a bike path and community garden.  There's so much going on today: people on bikes and with wheelbarrows and with wagons-- a bunny!  I'm watching from my tiny third floor balcony and am completely unnoticed.  Part of me wants to be down there, too, walking and planting and with people, but I'm excited for the moment to be so completely alone-- hidden away up here with the hum of traffic and airplanes and strangers.  It's so rare to have a chance to be alone lately.

Soon enough, there will be leaves on the trees, and I will only be able to see green and the backs of other houses when I'm up here.  Below, the bulbs are sprouting green all over our yard.  Roger is crying at the door to come out (we don't let him out, because he'd fall asleep under the hood of someone's car, I'm sure of it-- he's such a sweet, dumb creature.).  Tomorrow, we'll go to the Farmer's Market and look for rhubarb.  The beet and chard seeds are snug in our wee little beds.  Yes.  Spring.








Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sunshine and a Few Birds

The ice fishing folks have finally abandoned the slushy lake, and even though it's still cold, the air smells alive and green and damp.  I want to roll in it.

I work in the middle of a marsh, which, although kind of depressing (there are a bunch of tall buildings invading this lovely land), is one of my favorite things about work.  I'm on the third floor, and yesterday, a pair of Sandhill Cranes flew right by the window.  It was like being at the zoo, but backwards.  Red-Winged Blackbirds are singing from the tops of naked bushes and the street lights.  There are ladybugs!  And no snow!  And pavement. (I wish there was an opposite of an exclamation point...)

In addition to the sheer joy of being alive to see everything coming to life, I've been overwhelmed by dust and work and no-sleep and the strong desire to write and the strong desire to have enough energy to think, let alone write.  But, the days are shifting: it is lighter, and warmer, and I can feel my whole self respond to the shift.  I spent one full day cleaning last week.  Floors, ceilings, packing things away, washing sheets.  A clean slate.  A do-over.  Time to pretend winter never existed.  Time to wash the salt from the floors and dress the house in flowers.  A deep sigh.

It is almost my birthday-- it really snuck up on me this year!  Every year on my birthday, I think of Lucie Brock-Broido's "October Seventh, Nineteen Eighty-Three," and I start reading EB White's essays.  There is maybe a relationship between these two readings, but I'm not sure. Mostly, the weather makes me read them. But, as I was saying, it's almost my birthday, which is fantastic.  This year, I'm getting together with a bunch of friends for dinner and drinks, and the next day I will go to the Half-Pint Resale half-price day and eat brunch at El Dorado Grill, which is the best place to eat brunch.  It'll be such a happy weekend!  Hooray!  Sunshine!  Food!  Etc.!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mother Nature's Diaper Service Review (and notes on cloth diapering) **With end notes on stink.

One of the most annoying, confusing choices I made while pregnant was whether or not to use cloth diapers.  I'd seen, a long time ago, a time lapse video of a traditional disposable diaper in a landfill vs a g-Diaper disposable insert, and it made a lasting impression.  (You can watch the g-Diaper break down here.)

After spending an absurd amount of time on research, we decided to go with cloth.  I'd heard about Mother Nature's Diaper Service, but I didn't understand how it worked. So, I'm here to break it down as simply as possible, because our experience with them was wonderful.  

(Sidebar: Did you know that Yelp filters reviews?  There are tons of great reviews for Mother Nature's, but they've all been filtered out, because the reviewers don't have many/any other reviews on Yelp.  You can find all of these reviews HERE.)

First, you need to know this: 

Rick, the guy you talk to (I think the owner?), is so friendly and helpful.  A smiley face/exclamation point/have-a-good-day kind of guy.  Trust me, when you are feeling like a giant idiot about how to put a diaper on a tiny baby, you will appreciate this.  If you have questions, send an email or call him, and you'll hear from him within a day or two at most.  If you don't know you need fewer diapers or that you might need another size, he will leave a note on your bag of diapers asking if you want fewer diapers or another size. That's right. He'll ask you if you'd like to save money by getting fewer diapers.  I've never had any issues with billing, going on vacation, or last-minute change of plans.

Here's how it works: 

You call or send an email, tell them what you want, and they arrange to drop it off around your due date.  You don't pay until you call them and tell them your baby was born.  So, you can have everything ready to go when the baby gets there and not worry about paying a lot if you're 2 weeks past your due date.  We got the diaper pail (Nicki's Diapers sells the same pail for quite a few more dollars) and the most diapers possible in the beginning.  On a certain day of the week, they leave a large blue plastic bag full of clean diapers on your door.  You take the diapers out of the blue bag, put the blue bag in your diaper pail, and you're set for the week.  When you get your first pack of diapers, there is a great bit of helpful information (when to change sizes, how to fold, etc.) included in the pack.  They stick a money envelope on the bag with the amount due for the month.

The diapers are pre-folds, which, if you're new to this, means they are square or rectangular (depending on your baby's size) cotton diapers. You fold them into thirds and put them into a diaper cover. When you change a diaper, toss it into the diaper pail.  No need to rinse or anything fancy.  On the dedicated day (or the night before), you take the blue bag of dirty diapers, knot it like a trash bag and put it on your porch. Then, like magic, a new bag of clean diapers appears bright-n-early.  We set a phone alarm to remind us to take our diapers out the night before, which was generally super-helpful.

Questions I had:  

* Cloth wipes or disposable?  We have a little trash can for disposable wipes, because washing a load of cloth wipes seems silly to us.

* What kind of covers to use?  You can rent covers from MN's, but we bought our own in case we have other babies some day.  We bought a few one-sized and a few small-sized, because the one-sized swallowed our once-tiny baby.  If you use the kind with PUL lining (we had a lot of Nicki's Imagine brand.  They worked well and are cheap), if your baby's diaper is wet, you will not have to wash the cover with each change.  That's nice.  If your baby fills the diaper cover with poo, you rinse it and toss it in the hamper.

* Does it stink?  Surprisingly, not really.  Our baby is breastfed, and the accumulation of poopy diapers only smells a bit funky when you open the pail lid.  Keep it closed, and you're fine.  Also, MN's will supply you with deodorizing disks, and they do help a bit to mask the stink.  But, I promise, there is no stink when the pail is closed.**  

Our baby has officially outgrown all of her small-sized adjustable diaper covers, and we inherited a bunch of pocket diapers & inserts, so we've decided to make the switch to washing our own diapers, since we're washing the covers each time we change her anyway.  I'm sad to abandon such a great community resource, so I want to spread the word!

If you have questions about cloth diapering, check out Nicki's Diapers!  And if you're overwhelmed, contact me, and I will try to help! 

**Now that the wee one is pooping people food, the stink is super-stinky. When her poo is flushable, we flush it, and that helps. Otherwise, we just find ourselves washing diapers a bit more frequently. You could also use a sprayer, I guess, but I just don't like playing around so much with poo...


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Peekaboo: Here I Am!

My baby is asleep, my bills are paid, my work is done, and I am here, writing quickly before everything turns to chaos.

I never got to share my wonderful news: I saw a Snowy Owl two (three?) weeks ago!  Hooray!

video



Today, C and I are going to see The Lego Movie. I'm pretty jazzed that it's a PG-13 flick and that it actually looks entertaining.  We're also starting to plan our garden today, which is helping me to believe that spring might come.  We'll see.

In other news, this is the first year I haven't been to AWP since 2009.  It's kind of depressing to know all of my writer-friends are tearing it up in Seattle (especially because I've never been!), but I'm happy to be home with my family today especially.  I spent a lot of yesterday submitting my manuscript and working out some chapbook things, so I've been a lot more productive here than I'd have been at AWP.  And next year is in Minneapolis (sadly, another place I've never been...), and I'm very much planning on being there.





Monday, February 10, 2014

Lie, Cheat, & Steal Workshop: Day 2-- Lying


If you haven't already signed up for this workshop, you're welcome to join at any point in the series.


WHAT: Lie, Cheat, & Steal is a FREE workshop open to poetry-lovers with any level of experience. 

HOW: We'll have 3 classes (a lie class, a cheat class, and a steal class).

WHEN: The first three Tuesdays in February from 6:30-8:00.

WHERE: The Bubbler Room, Madison Public Library Central Branch

WHO?  Anyone!  Whether you've never written poetry before or have published several books, this will be an interactive writing workshop.  You will have a good time and leave with poems!  (Mostly, there will be adults, but I won't kick teenagers who are into poetry out of my workshop...)

Tomorrow, we'll focus on Lying-- Persona poems.  We'll read some poems, talk about poems & the writing process, and start drafting new work!  Hooray!  

This will be my first workshop at the Central Branch in the fancy new Bubbler room, and I'm really looking forward to it!  If you haven't been there yet, this is such a great time to check it out!

SIGN UP HERE!  or get in touch if you have questions!





Monday, February 3, 2014

Lie, Cheat, & Steal Workshop: Day 1-- Cheating


WHAT: Lie, Cheat, & Steal is a FREE workshop open to poetry-lovers with any level of experience. 

HOW: We'll have 3 classes (a lie class, a cheat class, and a steal class).

WHEN: The first three Tuesdays in February from 6:30-8:00.

WHERE: The Bubbler Room, Madison Public Library Central Branch

WHO?  Anyone!  Whether you've never written poetry before or have published several books, this will be an interactive writing workshop.  You will have a good time and leave with poems!  (Mostly, there will be adults, but I won't kick teenagers who are into poetry out of my workshop...)

Tomorrow, we'll focus on cheating-- Found & Erasure Poetry.  We'll read some poems, talk about poems & the writing process, and start drafting new work!  Hooray!  

This will be my first workshop at the Central Branch in the fancy new Bubbler room, and I'm really looking forward to it!  If you haven't been there yet, this is such a great time to check it out!

SIGN UP HERE!  or get in touch if you have questions!




Thursday, January 30, 2014

Making cheese at home. Because this is Wisconsin.

For Christmas, I got The Homemade Pantry, which is a pretty wonderful collection of recipes for basic things (like yogurt, ricotta, mozzarella, crackers, pasta, etc., you get it).  So! This weekend, we packed up the baby and headed to Get Culture, a cheesemaking supply store right in this lovely little city, to buy cultures and rennets and such.  The lady there was super-friendly and helpful (according to Matthew, I stayed in the car whilst the little bird slept) and told Matthew some things the book didn't about cheesemaking (it is a very simple book, which is nice, unless you are Matthew, who also likes to do things the best way, even if it isn't the simplest way).  Anyway!  We made mozzarella and creme fraiche!  Both were delicious.

Curdling
Separating curds from whey
Kneading
Ready to eat!

We ate it on a freshly-baked loaf of bread with olive oil, and it was crazy-good.  

We also took a road trip to Goose Pond to see if we could find the Snowy Owl who's been hanging around, but, of course, we didn't see it. We did see a Rough Legged Hawk, which made the drive a little rewarding.
 
Phoebe's sleeping schedule has become a bit more predictable, so we actually have time to do things again!  Hooray!  




Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lie, Cheat, & Steal

I'm teaching Lie, Cheat, & Steal (How to Write a Good Poem) at the Madison Public Library next Tuesday and 2 Tuesdays after that. We'll be talking about and writing persona poems, found poems, & erasure poems!

Register for the workshop HERE!




Friday, January 17, 2014

"Creepy Pregnancy Poem" on the Radio!

I read my poem, "Preserving," from Best New Poets 2013, on "Literature for the Halibut!"  Click on the image to listen to the January 13th show!


Hopefully it will work for a little while yet. I haven't figured out if they archive more than 2 shows for listening purposes...

(My poem is referred to as a "creepy pregnancy poem," which made me a little giddy.)





Monday, January 6, 2014

Starting Over

Every few years, I find the world around me has changed significantly enough to warrant starting over.  This may be a residual effect of so many years as a student and moving from one place to another.  I get scared (and bored) when I sit still for too long.  So, here I am, a few days into 2014, pretending this blog is brand new instead of feeling bad for writing nothing on it for so long.

Hello, Blog. Nice to meet you.

New Year's Eve/Day is my favorite holiday, because we take down the tree and wash our hands of the craziness of the holidays. No matter how dirty I feel after giving into the consumerist-madness, I always feel better on New Year's Eve. Everyone is so friendly! You can say Happy New Year to anyone and nobody is offended!  Hooray!  It is nice to take a day to look back, to look forward, and to think "Yes. I would like another go at this."

To kick off the new year, I bought a clean notebook and started reading a new book- You & Me, by Padgett Powell. I'm still working on A Guide to Being Born, which I've now renewed from the library 4 times. It's so wonderful, but it takes me a long time to get over one story and move onto the next. I got a Kindle for Christmas and have been reading poetry on it and doing all sorts of other geeky things with it.  Why don't I just buy Guide for my Kindle and be done with all of the renewing?  This is a good question.  In addition to reading a bunch, I've been writing a bit in this new notebook; rearranging furniture; cooking things without a lot of butter, cream, and sugar; playing with Phoebe, watching Mad Men with Matthew, thinking about poetry-- a lot of good things to start a year.

So much will change this year, which makes it hard to imagine what the year will look like.  Matthew will graduate in May, and it will be the first time in the history of our family's existence that neither of us is on a semester schedule.  Phoebe will start to eat food and crawl and walk and talk, and Carter will probably spend more and more time with friends and less time at home. I'll be teaching some poetry workshops, and we'll hopefully all be able to go to Vermont in October, for Chloe's wedding (I'll be going for sure! I'm in the wedding! Hooray!).  It will be a transitional year, much like most of the years before it, but it very well could be the last year of crazy-drastic change we have for a long time.  This, sadly, makes me nervous and uncomfortable.  Maybe after another winter with -50 degree windchills, I'll uproot us all, and we can move to Hawaii to grow macadamia nuts like Roseanne Barr?

OK! Four paragraphs! It's the start of a happy year of writing many more paragraphs! Now, onto dinner! (We're having sweet potato, black bean, and chard burritos with chipotle sauce.  Something like this.)