The Old Pine Tree
These Days

Last night I made a veggie soup that was so perfectly healthy and cleansing and filling all at the same time. I’ve brought it to work with me for lunch so I can continue to do well by my body.

I’ve been thinking about change, and how sometimes it comes on like the tide slowly rolling in over the sand. It could be exhausting, or it may be gentle; I think that is up to us to decide. Today I see it being more of the latter. Maybe change can be meditative?

I am full of a wealth of emotions right now. I’m joyful, and grateful, and excited, and hopeful. I’m also feeling sadness for others going through hard things, and for things I’m reluctant to let go of as the tide of change comes in even higher.

I’ve recently come face to face with the amazing community of people that support and encourage me. How absolutely humbling to see so many people believe in me.

I’m thinking and writing in vague metaphors and comparisons. I feel a little whispy, like the bare white birch, a feeling I’ll sit with for now.

Fragrant Fall Baking 

Spices and squash and satisfaction.

Sassy Ass

At Knox Hollow Brewing trying all the beers, including the Sassy Ass.

Sassy Ass

At Knox Hollow Brewing trying all the beers, including the Sassy Ass.

Gratitude is a powerful thing

In the past few weeks I’ve been frustrated. I’ve been kind of frustrated at work (it has been so busy my mind feels like it melted), I’ve been frustrated with my commute (an hour each way three times a week, and soon I’ll be in the car even more often), and I’ve been frustrated with daylight savings and the changing light. Maybe I’m in a pattern, where my frustrated thoughts lead to more frustrated thoughts.

I often write about gratitude and appreciation, and I’m getting better at using it as a tool to change my perspective. I recently started a gratitude journal in order to help me do that. I have read that the benefits of doing this include improved sleep, less illness, and increased happiness (results seen in kids, too!). I’m on board with all of that.

I don’t write in it every day, but when I do, I list three things I am grateful for that day. It’s that simple. I do it right before bed, so that the last thoughts I have are positive. It’s pretty awesome to look back at previous entries every now and again and realize how much joy is in my life. 

Regardless of how much frustration is there (which often changes), there is always this big bundle of greatness right there next to it. It is taking practice, but I’m working on it. For example. This week, when I felt particularly frustrated at a coworker, I would instead focus on a coworker whom I was grateful for. I have to be in Augusta for part of the week (or as we lovingly call it here in Maine: Disgusta) and I’m always frustrated at how unappealing and out of the way that City is. But I also know of a few, off the beaten path, woodsy sections I visit on my daily walks, and I’ve been trying to instead focus on those moments where I get to be outside, enjoying the fall, and being exposed to the natural world during my work day. On my long commute I am grateful for the sunrises and sunsets I see, the frosty fields, the miles and miles of trees, the silhouetted, lanky pines against the darkening sky each night, the quiet harbors, and the migrating birds. It’s honestly a beautiful way to start the day. Which is just one way to think of it (perhaps the healthier way).

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Gratitude is a powerful tool. Lean on it

Your dinner is served

Homemade vegetarian french onion soup (soupe a l’oignon). I am lucky, and full.

Your dinner is served

Homemade vegetarian french onion soup (soupe a l’oignon). I am lucky, and full.

I tell them you learn to write the same way you learn to play golf, you do it…and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn’t divinely inspired — it’s hard work.
New batch of kimchi

I like to have home fermented foods in the fridge and it has been awhile, so I threw together a batch of kimchi. It’s wicked spicy!

babyimaveganarchist said: Hey there. I recently moved back to Portland from Denver and just found myself going through the Portland, Maine tag. I think I just spent the past ten minutes on your blog. It's wonderful!

Thank you!!

(I’m convinced someone out there [mom?] pays people to leave me messages like this).

Sundays are for

tea and smoothies and playing guitar and writing new songs and putting together a bridge for a song I wrote in July (all the more sweet because I hate writing bridges) and letting the sound fill this place all the way up through the loft and sewing and writing and noticing how the dull orange in the dying leaves goes quite well with the old brick buildings all over this neighborhood and laundry (and just having the time to do laundry) and being glad that the weekend can be such a stark contrast to the work week and day dreaming.

Mulching the garden

Today was a perfect, sunny, fall day and I spent it outside. Today the garden got cleaned up and all of the remaining produce pulled. The only green left in it is the artichoke (which may be confused as to which season it is and has no idea that winter is going to serve it the kiss of death) and a patch of calendula I’m still selfishly cutting blossoms from.

I also took part in a mulching workshop. I learned how to mulch the bed to improve the soil and introduce healthy good stuff to it so that come next spring it will be happy and ready for more planting. These were the layers:

wet newspaper
seaweed (free and easy to find here in Maine)
dry leaves, saw-dust like stuff (no idea what it actually was), coffee grinds, dry yard waste
seaweed
wet newspaper
dry leaves
compost

And then I planted garlic (this year I made sure to get hard neck).

By next spring it should all be new soil! How great is that? Welcome to permaculture, my friends. 

Today, from the garden

Today the rest of the carrots and beets were pulled. It was a fine harvest. The artichoke has put out four new plants in the past month and a half. The plant is loving the cool weather. It hasn’t even shied away from the frost. These plants are destined to die in the winter though (in more mild climates they go dormant in the winter, but it’s too cold here). A little part of me is hoping it will go dormant and wake up come spring, but I know that is just too hopeful. I like seeing it growing anyway. It reminds me of how glorious it was to eat an artichoke I grew myself.

The frost is on the pumpkin and the hay is in the barn

Fall comes in so perfectly. The days get richer, more golden in early September. Warm days are sandwiched by cool nights; we begin to sleep like bears. As the crispness creeps into the day in October we layer up in comfort: sweaters, corduroy, wool socks, cable knit.

This morning even the moist ocean air couldn’t keep the frost away. The sun came up into a rosy pink sky.

There is something reassuring in the coming and the changing of the seasons. No matter what fills your life, no matter which decisions loom, no matter what will or will not happen, there will be warm humid days in July, there will be crocuses in spring, there will be January storms, and there will be frost in late fall.

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.