The air is thick with change

"Let's just be here right now.”

I had something of a breakthrough with my therapist this week. Despite the never-ending stresses of the outside world and the smaller, more manageable horrors of life (exhaustion with daily cooking, the ever-increasing tightness of my non-elastic pants), I relayed to them that on balance, I’ve realized a level of resilience I was not aware I was capable of 6, 7, 8 months ago.

“It’s like I learned how to walk with an umbrella through a storm — I’ve learned how to lean into the wind, stay dry, and not break the thing,” I said. We’ll see how long this lasts!

Not looking forward to Sunday Nov. 1, nope! Sunset will be at 4:51 p.m., and I can’t stop shaking my head about it. In preparation for darker, lonelier months — please create a plan for social distancing and don’t gather indoors if you can help it, but if you’re gonna be a scofflaw, at least be safe about it! — I’ve started implementing a care plan for my houseplants. This week was cold and rainy in New York, reminding me that long walks and bike rides will be harder to enjoy. I’ll be heavily relying on my plant babies for mental health reasons sooner rather than later. Maybe you could use some tips? I’ve started posting them on IG, but there are some easy, actionable ones you can knock off your to-do list this weekend:

  1. Aerate. Before you make your rounds watering your plants, take a chopstick (or any stick) and poke a few holes in the soil. As I wrote on IG, worms and other burrow buddies do this job in nature, but potted plants need your help. Breaking up potentially compacted soil improves drainage and increases airflow around your plant baby's roots, which helps them access oxygen and staves off potential root rot.

  2. Fertilize. If they’re not already dormant, your indoor plants may soon be and can benefit from a light feeding. Depending on the plant species (check other sources on this), make a plan to enrich your potting soil with water-soluble fertilizer. Their pots may be depleted of nutrients after a busy growing season.

  3. Rotate. Simple and quick, make sure to give your plants a turn so that the whole plant gets to enjoy whatever light is available to them.

  4. Deadhead. Cut back dead leaves and flowers. There is an obvious aesthetic benefit, but these leaves can also be draining energy from the plant; by cutting them back, you’re helping the plant focus its energy on healing and new growth.

I have other plans for bringing in my outdoor plants, namely my citrus trio of calamansi, Meyer lemon and dwarf lime. As always, social media is deceptive; I love offering these tips but I’m still something of an amateur plant dad. I highly recommend Darryl Cheng’s (creator of House Plant Journal) The New Plant Parent for a jumpstart on learning about taking care of house plants. I also love The New Gardener’s Handbook by another Daryl (Beyers), an educator with the New York Botanical Gardens. It’s an all-around holistic education for both indoor and outdoor gardening. As always, buy local when you can, especially this year.

Now I’m off to follow my own advice and take care of the growing urban jungle that is my living room. Have a safe weekend.

— “Independent bookstores absolutely rely on the next six weeks of sales to get them through to spring, so if we don’t invest in them now, we really might lose them this time.

— Speaking of commerce: What happened to Sky Mall?

— Samin Nosrat on the transportive nature of a new slate of cookbooks, especially Hawa Hassan’s lovely, warm new release, In Bibi’s Kitchen: “The best cookbooks are so much more than recipe collections — they’re oral histories, documentaries, time capsules, love letters, geopolitical texts, nature guides. And we, as readers, deserve to see more of them from more parts of the world, written by the people whose stories they tell.”

— I take great joy (embrace it when you can!) in the Mondo Mascots Twitter account, which posts photos from the delightful world of Japanese mascots. Self-destructive mushrooms? Big mood.

— As it is with Internet rabbit holes, I found my way to this mini-biography of a musician I was unfamiliar with, Beverly Glenn-Copeland, who has lead the most fascinating life. After reading his biography, I fired up Spotify on one of my long walks and got lost in his dreamy, damn-near healing melodies and choruses. His lyrics are bare but emotional, I assume in large part because of his connection to Buddhism — I surprised myself when I realized I was crying as I walked back home through Crown Heights. “I realised how much I need to stop living in the world of anxiety,” he says, “which is living in the future, thinking about what needs to happen next. Let's just be here right now.”

Bettina Makalintal, a food and culture writer at Vice, always impresses me with her range and output. Seriously, from writing about the rise of the so-called “gentrification font” to the Insta trend of jelly cakes, she can do it all! She’s also a proud and outspoken Filipinx food writer, and when she dives into the subject, I listen. This week is no different — I highly recommend her article on Tikim and its writer, Doreen Fernandez, the late blazing pioneer and champion of Philippine gastronomy and food writing.

— I’ll leave you with this: