do this one thing now……

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These pictures are from a visit to the farm in late spring of this year. The leaves were just beginning to pop on most things and the apple tree was full of blossoms. I'm not quite sure if this is an on purpose apple tree or a wild apple tree. I guess mother earth doesn't really differentiate between those two, does she? Just those of us humans hoping for "decent apples" do. Next time I hope to make time (and remember) to look for a grafting scar at her base. This spring, I stood underneath her and looked up at the sky through her branches. Overcast. Damp cold air. Magic light streaming through. Soaking in the energy of the land we will someday call home.

Progress is slow going on the farm. We have cleared brush. Filled our bellies with dewberries. Identified plants we know. Forged paths. Cleared a space for a tiny cabin. It might happen this year and it might not. I'm doing my best to be patient and let it all unfold in its own time. Easier said than done.

Joe & I took an apple grafting class this spring and successfully grafted 10 apple trees. So far they are still alive. I think we'll baby them here over the next year and plant them up north spring of 2019 – the same spring we plan to put the Massachusetts house on the market. We have blackberries, grapes, apple trees and raspberries that all need to be slowly moved north too. And about two dozen medicinal herbs. It's kind of overwhelming to imagine where to put anything on 4-5 acres of pasture. I guess we can always move it again though. Getting it there is the first part. Which kind of reminds me of my current life mantra – do this one thing now. It's easy to get caught up in the millions of things between now and two years from now. And sometimes if I think too much about it I feel the empty heaviness of anxiety pressing on my heart – but one thing? I can do one thing, now. And eventually, all those tiny things will add up. 

Do any of you remember the Shel Silverstein poem, Melinda Mae? It's a favorite of mine…. I'll share it with you (if you haven't shared Shel's poetry with your kids, do check it out. The audio was a favorite of ours!)

 

Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae,

Who ate a monstrous whale?

She thought she could,

She said she would,

So she started in right at the tail.

And everyone said, "You're much too small,"

But that didn't bother Melinda at all.

She took little bites and she chewed very slow,

Just like a good girl should…

…And in eighty-nine years she ate that whale

Because she said she would! 

    ~Shel Silverstein (Where the Sidewalk Ends)

 

I love it so – a good message for living by.

So I'm just kind of trucking along these days. Trying to remember to do this one thing now, and also to stop and look up at the magic light streaming through the branches.

 

xo,

s

  

stories : 1

My kids are always telling me I should read one of their newest and loved adventures. Usually fantasy or science fiction. And while I do love hearing the plot and all about the characters from them, these genres don't speak to my soul in the same way as theirs… and when I do have time (which is not often enough) to curl up with a book (that is not for studying)…… I long to be immersed in someone's story. To feel as if I am standing there beside them, in real-life oh-shit-this-could-be-me kind of stories. Creative Fiction has long been my truest love. With this thought, I decided to start writing some of my own stories down here, on a regular basis. Ramblings and such. No photographs. Just words. This is the first, but I'm hoping many will follow…..

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I'm sitting in the warm spot of sunlight in my room. Cross-legged on the floor in-between the dresser and bed because that is where the sun is. Maggie is curled up next to me, slowly squeezing more than her fair share of the sun rays streaming through the window. If I close my eyes, I can almost trick myself into believing it's summer out there instead of mid-January.

Jade has been slowly taking over Sam's room in the basement since he moved out last fall. My nest is short one chick and the rest are filling in the space left by his absence. This one room move has made the whole lot of them want to take a new one. There is plans for fresh paint and decluttering and new spaces as they each move up to the next sibling's room. It's interesting to see them all deal with his absence in their own ways. I wonder how it will shift as each one takes flight… and what the last one left behind will do.

I planted myself in this sunny spot to do some paperwork and pay some bills. However I am distracted by noise below me, I can hear Jade's music playing in the basement and all three of the kids singing along to Nirvana. Which is really so hilarious, because the soundtrack to my own and their teenage years is so similar – hipster kids and their retro music. I have this familiar feeling sweep through my chest – it feels like a loss, but not a sad loss if that makes sense – I felt it the first time in full force last fall when I said goodbye to Sam when he moved to Alaska. It's followed by the overwhelming love I have for these creatures who call me mama. Now matter how big or small they are.

I close the computer screen and instead sit with the dog in the sun. Eyes closed. Half pretending it's summer and half remembering the lyrics to Smells Like Teen Spirit as it plays, realizing I never did figure that song out…..

xo~

s

 

softly……

Softly

 

The renewal is up for the blog this month. I looked over the last year and realized I had posted a small handful of times. Less & less in the latter half of the year. 

Joe asked me awhile back why I stopped writing. Not here on the blog so much, but real writing. In notebooks. On pages stuffed into notebooks. I didn't have a real answer. I'm just so busy, I said to him. He nodded. 

The blog has become this strange thing for me – it's mostly in my head mind you – but because I wrote less and less real life here….. it started to feel separate from me. A memory of what was. The kids growing older. My career path popping up and taking hold of my time. It's funny really, this sense of self and how we paint it with words on screens to people we've never met. How much truth do we tell? What stories do we share? How vulnerable are we willing to be – or can we be, while still being mindful of the way our stories are interwoven with those around us…. Are we just another voice in an already loud and busy place? Perhaps.

I'm not sure of any of these…. but I've been thinking about them over the last few weeks. Debating the level of my bravery to show up here in the moment I am in and share that. I mean, posts about good food and living creatively and pets in sweaters are great – but for me – they become fluff if there isn't a raw-truthful-uncut-holy-shit-it-isn't-just-me bit every now and then. Soul connection, you know?

So I ask myself (renewal looming) how to start again.

And the answer comes…….softly.

 

xo,

s

 

so quiet…….

  Bleedingheart

Jewelweed

Ground ivy

Red clover

Dandelion

Magnolia

Violet

Celandine

A few pictures from my walk around the homestead this morning. Spring is being a show-off.

Joe took the youngest two north to the farm for the weekend and I'm here with the big two. Which is almost like being alone for the bulk of the day as they run from work to friends….

I had a meeting Friday and class all day tomorrow so I stayed behind. I've been getting text updates ranging from how Sophie found a mouse and babies to Luke talking too much and needing his own camper. There was a phone call about a few people getting lost and meeting the neighbors behind us, which is no easy task on 30 acres, but we'll just forget about that one for now. I asked them to take pictures of the apple tree and really of anything with blossoms. I hate missing a trip up there, but I needed a chunk of work time so badly. I've been in the studio getting caught up on soap and goods in the shop. With no one to feed or keep from turning the entire house into a blanket fort, I sure can get a lot accomplished. 

It's awfully quiet though. And neither Maggie nor I like that part too much. Every time I run an errand and return she runs past me to the van and looks in for her "puppies". She does not approve of them being gone so long. She sat in the studio and stared at me for a good half hour the first night as if to say hey, you realize we're missing something, right?

So off I go. Hoping to get at least 3 batches of soap made today along with some other things that I can't tell you about just yet. Product development is top secret around here……

Happy Saturday friends.

xoxo

stephinie

 

out of habit…..

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i'm out of habit.

being a creative person has ebb and flow…. and there has been a serious ebb here. going on a few months now. for the longest time i tried to manually override it. but then i realized some part of me just needed to check out. needed some some time, some breathing room. i know that probably sounds crazy to some of you. and the other part of you are like holy crap, i so get that.

so i put it all down. the pen. the camera. the sewing needle. we ordered more pizza and bought bread in a bag. have i told you i hate bread in a bag? at first i thought it was winter. but the truth is…. i think i needed a cocoon period. we all do sometimes. the more i nurture the creative part of my spirit, the more i realize this ebb and flow to be part of my natural state. and i'm getting better at letting her rest without taking any huge actions. it's really okay to drop off and pick up. you know? it's ok to not be prolific all the time in whatever your creative calling is. art. photography. craft. food. it's good to figure out how to embrace that in breath. and i mean on the whole…. as in lengths of time that feel like "in breath" or "out breath". i have needed a huge, huge in breath in life. my creative soul and my over analyzing mind have been having a party these last few weeks. but i just did my best to roll with it and let it all be. sort of like the way you deal with monkey mind when you are trying to be still. damn that monkey…..

that sort of makes me sound crazy. which is partly true. but i'm starting to exhale. i feel those gears shifting and i'm just taking it all in stride and not rushing things along. i'm getting back in the studio. pulling out things that feed my heart. picking up the camera again. writing bits here and there about everything and nothing. baking bread. the habits are returning. little by little. new and old. and have i told you how much i love a thick slice of bread smeared with butter and jam? i suppose i have…..

happy weekending dear ones.

xo,

s

 

on dreams……

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Oh, dreams. They are made up of hard work and good ideas and hope.

Many moons ago our first dream was a camp in the woods. We bought cabin books and magazines. Searched for land. Studied kits and plans for cabins. Crunched numbers. Saved, and saved. I imagined driving up to our camp, kids in tow, a giant hammock waiting for us to sit and swing in. We lived in Cape Cod then, a new young family of just four. Property was still affordable to average people. Northern Maine was our hope. It kept our hearts happy somehow, this little dream of ours. 

The timing wasn't right though. Instead of leaving the military to enter the civilian sector of the workforce, we chose to stay in. The wanderlust call was too great, we wanted to see more of the country. Job security and health benefits played a role in that decision too. Ohhh practicality….

Time carried on. Our family grew. And grew…..

The first dream slipped away a little. How could we buy land if we didn't know where we would live every 3 years? East Coast, Alaskan Coast, Gulf Coast, Great Lakes. We have called each of these places home over the last decade and a half….

But we kept saving. In 2009 we put that chunk of money down on our first home. It was in suburbia on one fifteenth of an acre. It felt so far from the dream that started the savings account. This is what being a grown-up is like sometimes. 

As we pulled up carpet and painted walls and tiled floors we kept dreaming….

What if we lived in town and created an urban homestead academy? Taught people to keep chickens, brew beer & can tomatoes?

What if we bought a Volkswagen bus and sold soup and rice bowls and bubbly tea from it.

What about a sailboat? A yurt? Off the grid living?

An old beaten up farmhouse with a writer's retreat? I'd serve them scones with ridiculous amounts butter, studded with raspberries from the backyard and huge fresh salads with spicy greens and local cheese for lunch.

Do we still want that camp?

Can we really live working part time in our 40's? 

Are we crazy?

Four years later we sold that house and moved to this one. It feels a little closer to the original plan, but it's a high cost area and has a hefty mortgage that cannot be maintained if we want to work part time in the near future. The savings account has dwindled significantly from home ownership. (damn that grown-up thing again.)

But I'm stubborn. I can't give this one up. So, the dreaming continues…

I don't want to live too far from community. I'd like running water and internet service of some sort. Joe wants a tractor. And a donkey. I'm not sure about that last one. I want rows and rows of flowers and herbs. More beehives & chickens. A homestead easy enough to leave in the care of someone else for a weekend getaway, but still just big enough to provide us with a root cellar full of nourishment to last through winters. A place nearby to push our kayaks in for a paddle. Simple, humble, affordable housing. Does this exist? It's not much and a whole lot all at the same time.

Nothing is held too hard and fast. I know things can change. What feels right now may be completely wrong later. An opportunity we never knew existed could be hanging out for just the right moment to show itself. It might sound wishy-washy, but I like to think of it as open-minded. In the meantime I put my thinking cap on. Scrape pennies from our budget into the savings account. Pay off debt. Wistfully swoon over property listings of the aforementioned broken-down-farm. 

Hope. Plan. Dream. Repeat.

My soul needs dreams. Yours too. Dream, and dream big. Be brave. Write it down. Make it art. Sing it. Say it out loud. Manifest it, in some way….. one tiny piece at a time until you are holding it on your hands.

 

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ~Mary Oliver 

 

xo~

s

  

a word for 2015…….

seek

I've been thinking a lot about a word for the new year. While it isn't something I usually talk about a lot here in this space….. it's something I've done for a few years now in my own heart. Sometimes it takes me the whole month of January to find the word…. or better yet, for it to find me. A lot has shifted these last few months. I have gone from a state of complete upheaval to new footing entirely. I find myself looking at many of my habits with a new set of eyes. It's been very….. introspective… I suppose. Which is a nice way of saying difficult.

I have some things in the works….. right now I am in the behind the scenes phase. Tidying, organizing, planning. I'll have more to share as I pull all the bits of pieces together…

For now, I wanted to share my word of the year : seek

Did you pick a word for the year? I'd love to hear it…..

xo,

s

 

a little journey north……

a little journey north......

a little journey north......

a little journey north......

a little journey north......

a little journey north......

a little journey north......

As I type this I am sipping my second cup of coffee and warming myself in front of the fire.

Morning chores were finished over an hour ago. In zero degree weather. Those poor chickens. Especially the one going through a late molt. I've been giving them extra corn and sunflower seeds as a treat but they still look at me as if I am to blame for the frigid temperatures. They don't even try to go out of their coop to forage. They just stare at me, feathers fluffed as much as they can, huddled together in the sunniest corner (with feathery furrowed brows, I swear!) and watch as I break the ice out of their bucket and fill it with fresh water. After tending to the feathered and furry creatures, I wander to the bees. A layer of frost covers their upper entrance and I wonder if this is a good or bad thing. I scrape the frost aside with a stick. No bees appear. I pull my hood off and press my ear to the outside of the hive, tap gently with an open hand and hear the reassuring hum inside. Good girls, I whisper.

We went to NY this weekend. Joe had a job interview in Massena. It's so far north it's almost Canada. He applied for the job several weeks ago and we've trying (and failing) at not obsessing over the possibility for the last two months.

The interview went very well. In fact, they offered him the job. A very good job. And a step two starting position. It's like an immediate raise, they never do this. But the schedule was really difficult. A lot of on call time, on the road time, and a ton of hours six months out of the year. Even though it would mean finally settling down…… it wouldn't mean a quality of life change for the better. He politely declined yesterday.

The drive was beautiful. Just him and I, and knitting needles. The night before was a combination of snow and freezing rain and everything was glossy and frozen and white and looked like something out of a picture book. Talk, knit, talk, knit. I snapped a few pictures along the way. An amazing old water mill of some sort…. the sun setting over the icy landscape….. the moon! Winter moons are magic things. I thought I might be disappointed that it didn't work out….. but I actually felt relieved. I don't feel ready to be uprooted again….. and it wasn't quite where I want us to land. Between the knitting and the talking I said a millionth little prayer to the universe, to the tiny broken down farmhouse with good bones waiting for us…. I'm sure it will find us when the time is right.

xo,

s

psssttttt…. also, I finally joined instagram. are you there too? why didn't you guys tell me it was so fun?? 

 

 

it’s not you…… it’s me….

it's not you...... it's me....

 

Random HUGE egg photo that has nothing to do with this post…. yes it was a double. Which totally freaks my husband out. (Sorry honey, sort of threw you under the bus on that one).

And yes, the comments are broken. I know some of you noticed. Frustrating stuff indeed….

It's not you though, it's me. Or well, actually it's them

So, I guess that's it. You can always come say hello on facebook…..

Here's hoping things are back to normal sooner than later….

xo~

s

just this…….

just this.......

A little heartfelt bit from my journal, a scribbled note to my sweet friend back in Louisiana. To all of you who know what it's like to start over. Again, and again. The heartache that tugs at your soul many months after you've said your goodbyes. There are so many new pieces to find and rearrange, and sometimes you just miss what is familiar. What you know. I so get that….. 

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to A……..

I walked into a room of mamas. The kinda crunchy kind. Our kind.

Kids running and laughing in every direction.

I sat down and scanned the faces.

All smiling. All kind and sweet, for sure.

I talked a little. Watched my kids struggle a bit to interact as the only newbies.

My girl is an old pro at this, but it's all new to the boy.

He is so quiet and reserved. Calm. Watching.

You are laughing at this thought, right?

How could the crazy little man be the quiet one?

New faces. New places. We should be so good at this by now.

It's still hard though. And like leaving, I forget how difficult it is.

The starting over. The slow exchange of small talk. The hope for a new friend.

For the kids. For me.

I never need a group, just one.

And it's hard because I look around and I am unfairly hoping to see a familiar face.

I'm hoping to hear your laugh. To think Yes, this is it. You are here and these are my peeps.

It's ridiculous, really. But it's true.

Awhile back I told my girl, who was in tears because she was so missing her friend and certain there would never be another like her…. 

"I promise there will be more friends, but you are so right. No one will ever replace her."

And it sucks to say that, but it's true. And even though it's hard, I think know that it is so good to honor her heartache. To not try to fix it. To sit in it with her and just listen. Just be there.

So with this bit of knowledge in my pocket, I muster up my bravery, and I keep showing up. I remind myself in time, it will happen. She will never be you, but she will be good. We will laugh. Hopefully drink coffee, and maybe some wine. Share meals. Our kids will play. And sometimes while we're hanging out, I will smile and think of you and wish you were with us. Because there really is no one quite like you. 

Missing you…..

xo~

S

ps ~ the food picture seems so unrelated, right? it's a favorite dish of mine & A's. she'll get a kick out of it being part of this post.