Saturday, January 26, 2013

a rainy day

The roofs in SoCal don't have gutters, so whenever it rains, it makes the most delicious trickling noise outside my window. This morning, I lounged in bed, savoring the smell of the rain, like freshly cut grass. And the mountains were all wrapped in filmy scarves of fog that drifted about all day, sometimes letting the sun peep through. But I was ready for a cloudy day. Yes, I was. It matched my contemplative mood, which decided to come a few days early. Normally that mood is reserved for Mondays. But there was something satisfying about the dripping tiled roof and saturated outdoors. 

I took a walk outside in the mist and Ramona revealed a whole new dimension of herself. It was more subtle than the usual charming sunlight filtering through the bougenvillia framing the front door, but appealing in its own way. There was a little meadow that's popped up in tender blades of grass since the rain, and I couldn't resist trespassing to it. I spun slowly, each turn bringing me a new lush green view. The fog carried some sounds further than seemed possible & muffled others.  I could hear a hundred little frogs chirping from the valley, but none of the normal car sounds from 78. Two coyotes slunk through the brush when they saw me coming. 
Across the valley to the west, terraces of green, green grass shrouded in fog made me think of Ireland. It was just me and the mountains. I didn't feel like I was in Southern California anymore. And please don't misunderstand me when I say that it was a very pleasant feeling. I love SoCal: but I also love a proper rainy day curled up by the fire. And I've no intention of moving out of my chair anytime soon. 
Hope your day was as full of beauty. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

the Neighbors

I have a Neighbor here in Ramona that I really like. She called me the other night. 
 "Would you like to come over for brunch tomorrow morning with your guests?" she asked in her sweet, calm voice.
     "Sure," I said. "What time?" 
     "Is 9:30 too early? If you're going to be later, just text me, and we'll change it. How does an omelette bar sound? And we've got boxes of mandarins from the old man down the street," the Neighbor elaborated. 
     "Ooh, that sounds you have feta?...and mushrooms?...and spinach?..." I wheedled, quite shamelessly too. 
     "I do. I'll have everything chopped up and ready to go." 

Is it any wonder I like her? My omelette was divine. 

The hardest thing about moving has been missing the little "pearls slipping off a string" moments of my nearest & dearest. And I knew it would be. But what's almost harder is accepting the fact that I don't have to miserable away from them either & I really shouldn't feel guilty if I'm not. (Are you wondering how this relates to a Neighbor-made omelette? It is relevant, I promise.) I know my family doesn't want me to pine. And I really have no grounds for pining here. But there are times I miss them. Fiercely. But God is too good to pry me away from my family without providing something to fill the void. (Hence "The Neighbors"--told you I'd connect it all back up.) It's strange to think that 3 months ago, I had no idea what they were like, and now I'm sleeping on their couch and borrowing their kids to carry my camera and entertain me on hikes after  omelette brunches. And it's not strange at all. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

home alone 4

On Wednesday, C & B went away for a couple days on business (we'll let them call it that). We four were left to hold down the fort. And did we ever! For a couple days, we didn't leave the 11 acres the Dotterer's call home. I taught them how to play "alligator", a game my dad used to play with us long ago. They loved it just as much as my siblings & I did. It brought back some sweet memories of being (happily) scared out of my wits by a dad who made time & spent energy he probably didn't have after a hard day's work crawling around on his hands & knees chasing his 4 youngest children.

We also dug into my apron collection (see, I was quite practical lugging it out here, in fact), and baked lemon pudding cake, which we polished off completely in 12 hours. What's the point of being home alone if you can't break the healthy food rules?

I was moderator in quite a few "discussions" and we survived two whole days of school without mom, no small feat!

Saturday we were all ready to get out of the house, so we went into the park in town. It was a sunny, warmish day (60's, yeah, yeah, I know. The Midwest has been pretty balmy too. I'm happy for y'all. You should still come out for a visit...), and after many heart palpitating moments caused by Will's antics on the rock wall, a strenuous game of tag, a picnic on a big flat rock in the shade of a date palm, we went to Coldstone Creamery. And there I had a lapse of judgement. Proof that while I may be able to keep them mostly in one piece (Will did get a split lip one night...), I am not yet completely broken in. I allowed them each a "like it" size of ice cream. After I was halfway through mine, and feeling rather queasy, I begged the kids not to finish theirs either. Will however, finished his completely, and an hour later was asking for a snack. I know he couldn't have been hungry. He was obviously mistaking the gurglings of indigestion for hunger pangs. Never again.

C & B made it back Saturday afternoon from their trip & life went back to...the way life is here. Not quite normal (whatever that is anyway), but into the rhythm it has--back & forth, up & down, but all around pretty pleasant.

Our string of visitors is going to start Thursday, so I'll try to post faithfully, but no promises! Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

pieces of home

One year for Christmas, my mom bought a mound of quirky little gifts and we played a version of Yankee swap where you actually wanted to keep your gifts. That's one of the things I like best about my mom; she is a brilliant gift giver. Normally, I accept gifts with a polite smile, then tuck them under my arm to open later, out of sight of the giver. But my mom's gifts are always perfect. These little bottles were part of that mound of Christmas gifts. My sisters and I all have some. They're so cheery lined up in a sunny window where they catch the light. They were the right size to tuck away in my luggage for the road trip back out here. I can look at them now, and see a little piece of the Midwest on my windowsill. A stolen bit of my mother's gift-giving nature and a portion of my sisters, who have matching bottles. I know better than to try to recreate what I've known as "home" for the past 21 years of my life, but I do need little reminders. 

The kids helped me unpack my "treasures" and they looooved these. Alayna & Will thought they needed some flowers, so they went out and picked some. Yup, I'm back. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

first family visitors

Since we made such good time driving out to SoCal, we had an extra day to spare. Friday, we joined some of the church kids and went ice skating. I have had some humbling experiences, but anytime I go ice skating, I have this dreaded apprehension of making a fool of myself. And yet each time, I think, "How bad can it be? And if I never go, I'll never get better." And if you've learned anything about the Dotterer's, it's that while we don't like to be made fools of, being anything less than accomplished at pretty much everything is worse. So I threw back my shoulders & braved the ice. Fortunately for me, Noah was even less experienced and about  as coordinated as I am, so we held hands and shuffled along together, like an old couple out for a walk. And everyone just thought I was being nice to help Noah out; no one suspected he was holding me up as much as  I was him. Win-win. Self-esteem intact.

Saturday: Alex helped Clint build the stone wall in the morning, while Carm & I lounged around. In the afternoon, Carmex & I went to Torrey Pines. The coast was sunny (it isn't always, actually. And sometimes, you even need a jacket), great for a hike, if not so much for laying on the beach. I think what I like most about Torrey Pines is its variety. There's something for everyone. And all without being artificial or desperate to please. The hike is beautiful & would be worth it alone. But there's also the beach, which has great waves and a wide expanse of sand running up to meet the creamy sandstone cliffs (which harbor rattlesnakes as I found out). There's tidepools for the kids if you walk down. The town promises good food and great views (can't vouch for those myself--yet). The trails were busy but not uncomfortably packed. And by the time we finished the hike, and climbed down the flight of stairs descending the cliffs to the beach, the sun was beginning to set. So we got to walk back to the car bathed in the glow of a SoCal sunset.

But the night was not yet over! I have found a new favorite place: Oceanside Pier. Close your eyes and let me describe it to you: a light-studded pier stretching out far enough into the ocean that you felt like you might feel the toss of the waves swaying the otherwise sturdy boards under your feet; the rustle of the ocean around the pilings down below; the neon glow of a diner's sign at the end, beckoning you to a burger and fries (that would taste sooo good after a Torrey Pine's hike); kids on shoulders, couples holding hands, and one girl with her faithful camera, wishing she had a bigger lens to capture the scene.
Whoever comes out next to visit yours truly, we must go to Ruby's Diner.
Here's some photos to flesh out my verbal gallivantings.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

holiday flashback

I've have been shamefully negligent on my posting. One would think that being in a location for 2 weeks without a job would be the ideal situation for updating and posting and keeping in touch, etc. Or it would be, if one also didn't have a little niece that needed squeezed--daily--family gatherings, a room to pack up (Mom finally kicked me out, no hard feelings), high school friends to reconnect with. So, I have totally justified myself and I don't feel bad at all for ignoring this little blogspot for 3 weeks.
So, what did I do while back in the Midwest?
(I apologize for the hard-to-read font. But this was the 5th time I'd redone it, so tough. Grrr. Technology. Sometimes, I wish all I had was a typewriter...oh wait, I do have one!) 

 A brief explanation: months ago, we stenciled this whole wall in pencil, using rulers and everything. Then we went over all the lines in paint. We finally finished it up, to her man's delight, over Christmas...I left her to scrub off the pencil marks. 

I finished some longstanding projects. The wall at Larissa's, reorganizing my photos, storing ALL of my doodads and whatnots. I was feeling slightly guilty for the masses of dishes I've accumulated in my relatively short life, even though most of them were steals at Edelman Auction. And someday, I will have a use for pink sherbet glasses and four black goblets and a gold-trimmed cake stand, even if I don't right now. (That's a mere fraction of my dishes, just in case you were wondering at my previous descriptions of "masses".) On a side note, if you ever want to borrow some for a dinner party, I've got about 20 boxes in the basement of my mom's, labeled. Just put them back exactly how you found them.

Only a few boxes made the trek out to SoCal. It might shed some light on my priorities to know some of the things that made the cut--and it was tough, I mean, there's only so much you can fit in the trunk of a Buick, no matter how big and long some of you (us) may consider them--were my apron collection, typewriter, and a box of my favorite books. The important things, you understand.

The drive back was...better than I thought it would be. Between newlyweds, winter, & whiling away hours on the road, I was anticipating it being much more painful. The Lord was merciful, and we had perfect roads the entire way. It only took us 29 hours, 2 days, and 1.5 boxes of granola bars. After 1,000 miles the first day, yup, count 'em, we got a hotel room in Amarillo. Yes, we got a hotel room. Not rooms. Then it was another 1,000, although it felt exponentially more, through New Mexico. If I wouldn't have had to drive the whole part of it, I would've taken more photos to prove how absolutely mindnumbingly bleak that state is. I think giving the Native Americans New Mexico was worse than smallpox. (I'm only partly kidding.) I've never been more glad to see snow than I was when Flagstaff, AZ came (that's where the photo of Carmex was taken). Anything to break up the monotony of New Mexico wasteland! We stopped in Prescott, AZ to see Zach Roth, but other than that, we only stopped to get gas and go to the bathroom. Never one without the other.
The closer we got to Ramona, the more I started to feel relaxed. I have to admit, it was a lot harder to leave the Midwest this time than back in November. Right now, I have no trips planned to come back. And I have no idea how long I will be here. Could be forever. The realities of life (I know, I know, cliche that it may be) have crept in a little. My family may be a nice complete little unit back in middle-America without me. Bryan & Lisa will be getting David & Roxie soon. I won't be there for that. Mad took her first steps New Year's Eve; I won't be there to see her take off. But I content myself with the fact, and it is a fact in my mind at least, that this is where I'm supposed to be right now.

And this afternoon, I went to the beach. And I was outside today without a coat! So I will survive. And my family and friends will come for visits, and leave me lots of comments on my blog, and I will go on with life.

By the way, it may interest you that Will asked about me everyday while I was gone.