The Old Pine Tree

Portland Farmers’ Market 

It won’t be long until the market is indoors (this year it is going to be in Bayside, rather than the Irish Heritage Center, which is a bummer because I can’t walk there), so put on a hat and gloves, and get out in the rich fall sunshine for some local produce. This is the season when tables and bins are overflowing with it. I am especially smitten with a seasonal bouquet that made it to my kitchen table.

The leaves have come to turning
The seasons nudge us towards the places we should be. The leaves color, die, fall from the branch, and turn brown. The old deck and the adirondack chair are suddenly less inviting; we are meant to be indoors now, and soon we will be. 

The leaves have come to turning

The seasons nudge us towards the places we should be. The leaves color, die, fall from the branch, and turn brown. The old deck and the adirondack chair are suddenly less inviting; we are meant to be indoors now, and soon we will be. 

Still going strong
These beauties are still blossoming in the garden despite the frosty overnight temps around these parts. I’m still drying the petals for hot baths this winter.

Still going strong

These beauties are still blossoming in the garden despite the frosty overnight temps around these parts. I’m still drying the petals for hot baths this winter.

Sendak exhibit at the Portland Public Library

Last night I visited the Maurice Sendak exhibit at the Portland Public Library. Last fall I saw the Edward Gory exhibit and this one was just as engaging. The library does a really great job with their exhibits, and the space is lovely.

I was surprised by how many drawings Sendak did for fans. Apparently he answered all fan letters from children. He also sketched out costume and set designs for his stories when they were turned into operas. He was, not surprisingly (but oh so endearingly), friends with Jim Henson

Today is the last day of the exhibit and the library closes at 6pm, so get down there and have a look. It is free, but if you drop a few dollars in the box you get a pretty great Wild Things sticker. 

nowonderr:

“Because sending a letter is the next best thing to showing up personally at someone’s door. Ink from your pen touches the stationary, your fingers touch the paper, your saliva seals the envelope, your scent graces the paper. Something tangible from your world travels through machines and hands, and deposits itself in another’s mailbox; their world. Your letter is then carried inside as an invited guest. The paper that was sitting on your desk, now sits on another’s. The recipient handles the paper that you handled. Letters create a connection that modern and impersonal forms of communication will never replace.”

This image grabs me every time I see it. I once sent a letter with the definition of a letter written on the back of the envelope.

nowonderr:

“Because sending a letter is the next best thing to showing up personally at someone’s door. Ink from your pen touches the stationary, your fingers touch the paper, your saliva seals the envelope, your scent graces the paper. Something tangible from your world travels through machines and hands, and deposits itself in another’s mailbox; their world. Your letter is then carried inside as an invited guest. The paper that was sitting on your desk, now sits on another’s. The recipient handles the paper that you handled. Letters create a connection that modern and impersonal forms of communication will never replace.”

This image grabs me every time I see it. I once sent a letter with the definition of a letter written on the back of the envelope.

(Source: therefined)

Live ME

Maine is the best. It’s where I live, and it’s a way of life. Stay tuned as I document what it means to live Maine.

Want to wear your pride? These shirts fit and feel like your favorite tee you wore multiple times a week in college. Check ‘em out!

(and thanks, Chris!)

Shapes and Colors of the Season 

The world is both bright and bland right now. 

Repair
I am still very much in recovery mode here, letting my body repair the torn muscles and damaged cells, and trying to stick to good hearty food to help the process along. This morning though, I did sneak a little Nutella into my breakfast bulgar.

Repair

I am still very much in recovery mode here, letting my body repair the torn muscles and damaged cells, and trying to stick to good hearty food to help the process along. This morning though, I did sneak a little Nutella into my breakfast bulgar.

The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

Running marathons is hard. I forget this until I’m running a marathon. I’m sure it’s some sort or self-protecting mechanism. It isn’t slow, leisurely long runs, or brief, intense speed work outs, or steady hill repeats. It’s all those combined, with more adrenaline and less mental clarity. Going into MDI I had a lot of goals. After driving the course the night before most of them went out the window. I was glad I drove that course, but it scared me. I had never run hills like that. Ever.

So my goals changed. I wanted to run negative splits. I wanted to finish. I wanted to run a sub-4. A PR would have been nice, but on hills like that I had no idea what I would or wouldn’t do. After a year of training and injuries keeping me from the starting line of two separate marathons I wanted to run smart and finish my second marathon. Ultimately, I just wanted to run; this race was a long time coming.

The morning was drizzly and gray, but by the time I was outside the rain had stopped. Gray weather is perfect marathon weather. My team of supporters showed up a few minutes before the start and that got me excited. There was a moving tribute to the Boston Marathon, all the runners parted for a bagpiper playing amazing grace. Then we all got situated, the horn went off, and just before stepping over the timing mat onto the course I thought am I really doing this again?

The first half of the marathon was hillier than anything I had ever run before. I didn’t know I could run hills like that, or at the pace I was holding. I crossed over the half marathon mark at 1:51. Those hills started to take their toll though. I was more tired at 13 miles than I should have been; I felt it and it was clear to me. The second half of the course was hillier than the first, if you can believe it. Miles 17-25 were basically up hill. That’s a hard time in a race to be going up hill. We’re not talking little inclines either, we’re talking about the kind of hills where at the bottom you’re level with the ocean and at the top you can see the whole world. I kept telling myself you gotta dig deep, but I just didn’t know how.

My supporters were great and they kept me going and motivated. The last 5 miles are a blur of discomfort, walking, running, and trying to just get through it. Some how I crossed the finish line at 3:57, under 4 hours, but I had definitely not run a negative split. I’m not sure that I could have run that course in a negative split. I’m glad I had so much time in the bank from the first half.

20 minutes after finishing I still wasn’t feeling great and the nurses in the med tent ended up hooking me up to an electrolyte IV. They kept offering me chicken broth and I kept saying I didn’t eat meat, but finally I caved and let me tell you that stuff was like the elixir of life. Between the IV and the broth I felt like superman regaining his strength after a run in with kryptonite.

I cannot say it enough - those hills are humbling - anyone who completes that course should be proud, it is as close to misery as I’ve ever been. I ran that race two minutes slower than my last marathon. I am a little disappointed I didn’t finish faster, but when I think about the course and how hard I worked, I cannot be disappointed. I left everything on that course. I’ve never run hills like that, and for so long, and to do it under 4 hours, I am proud. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I did it.

When I look back to those moments on the last monstrous hills, when I thought that I didn’t know how to dig deep, I realize that I was digging deep, and it carried me all the way over the finish line.

Just about 12 more hours

I wore this shirt today, because running Maine, that’s what I do. Tomorrow I will run MDI.

The tide from Frenchman Bay practically comes right into my hotel room.

I drove the course today and my nerves jumped into my stomach all at once. There are long hills, possibly longer than any I’ve ever run. I’m hoping the long down hills save me.

Channeling my inner champion

Gold toes for a good race. 2 more days!

Channeling my inner champion

Gold toes for a good race. 2 more days!

Holy Hot

Last week I made hot sauce for the first time. It seemed like a no-brainer to me, seeing how much I love hot sauce, how much I consume, and how many bottles are in the cupboard. You’d think I would have done this ages ago. Plus, between the garden and the CSA the counter was being taken over with hot peppers. 

It was pretty simple, and I followed this recipe. I used 14 jalapenos (some were red, some were green) and one habanero. I cut them all by hand, without using gloves. Big mistake (more on that later).

image

The ingredients are simple and fresh. That was one reason why I picked the recipe I did. There is a lot of room to play around here, and next year I think I would try my own combinations to see what I could come up with. You could throw in tomatillos, celery, shallots, etc. This is what I worked with:

image

Everything went together into a pan with some oil for 3 or 4 minutes, and then water was added. This cooked for 30 minutes or so until most of the water was gone.

image

After cooling to room temperature (or if you’re impatient like I am, not-as-hot-as-it-was-ten-minutes-ago) it all went into the food processor with vinegar. 

image

Next it had to be strained. I did this over a pint jar which I do not advise, because it took ten times as long, and it was hard to make sure it all went in the jar. Save yourself some time and just do it over a big bowl, in two batches, instead of 25 like I did.

image

I opted to stick it in the fridge, like the recipe calls for. In the future I think I might look into how to seal it so it can go on a shelf and I can give it away, or store it for longer periods of time.

Let me tell you, it’s hot. It isn’t the kind of hot sauce you douse your food in. A little bit goes a long way. It has pretty good flavor, but I like my hot sauce to have a richer flavor profile (and still have heat), which is why next time I would play around with more/other ingredients. This is a solid first start, and I’ve already used it a few times. 

Now, about cutting the peppers bare handed. Within a few hours of cutting them my hands were burning so badly they were trembling. It was some of the worst pain I have ever been in. My face was sweating and there was no oil or burning on my face what-so-ever (luckily I avoided that mistake). I tried every suggestion I could find on the internet and nothing worked. This is a public service announcement: If you’re going to make hot sauce and cut up your own peppers: wear gloves. I think a good method might also be to just cut the tops off the peppers and throw them in a food processor. We have to learn our lessons somehow. 

3 Days

In 3 days I’m running my second marathon. Those of you who have been reading The Old Pine Tree for a while know how big of a deal this is for me. Last year I had two big injuries that kept me from two separate marathons. I worried that my body would never let me be a long distance runner and I did months of physical therapy.

I’ve been tapering and doing pretty well with it. Sometimes I feel stir crazy or worry I’m losing my endurance but then I got out for my run (short 3 milers this week) and I am bursting with energy. I hold back though and tell myself to save those bursts for the marathon. I like to imagine I’m saving up these bursts of energy for when I need them in the race.

People keep asking me about my goal time. I honestly don’t know. I’ve never run a hilly course like this. I’m just glad to be healthy, and I want to run smart. I have tiered goals, but I’m keeping them to myself. I have hopes for what I’m capable of.

I have spent the last 4 months training. That’s a third of a year. It’s gone pretty well. I got all of my runs in, multiple 20 milers, and I feel better than I have in the past. Maybe I should have done more speed work, maybe I should have done more hills, but it’s too late to worry about that now.

There’s nothing I can do but trust in the hard work I’ve done and enjoy the race. I remember last time I ran a marathon I had this overwhelming feeling of satisfaction while I was on the course just because I was there, accomplishing a goal that meant so much to me. I look forward to that moment of fruition on Sunday.

If you’re not a runner it might sound strange, but long distance running is one of the most important parts of my life. It is deeply personal and rewarding. I’m continually working at being just a little faster, just a little stronger, just a little more whole of an athlete.

A few more easy runs, a few more carb filled meals, lots of water, and some extra sleep. Then it’s race day. Truth be told, I’m ready.

The sweet call of the countryside

The sweet call of the countryside

It takes a village

I dream of giving out homemade gifts for Christmas: baskets of dilly beans, pickled beets, hot sauce, cloth napkins, and the like. My mom, and now myself, are famous for our canned goods.

This weekend we canned 20 pints of pickled beets. The neighbor grew the beets (we literally pulled the whole patch. The goat got the greens), so we gave him a third of them. It’s a pretty good trade, everyone does the part they’re best at and walks away with what they need. If only all of life were so simple.

If I had enough to give away these would be ready just before Christmas. Someday I’ll have the time, right?