Tuesday, January 28, 2014

getting antsy for spring

 The weather here lately has been phenomenal. Beautiful blue skies, warm temperatures, plants starting to stir to life, warm saturated sunsets reflecting off the pond, baby calves in the pasture. People can't stay inside. It's funny how everyone thinks they're coping with winter & are fine until the sun breaks out; then we're all giddy & cheerful, smiling at people on the street, chatting it up at the checkout ("Beautiful weather lately, eh?"), a compulsion to be outside, tooling around. I saw these strawberries at the grocery store, and even though the only fruits on my list were apples & bananas (sigh--winter fruit--bleh!), I couldn't resist. They were delicious, not white inside & styrofoamy like most winter berries. Spring is on the way! (Somewhere anyway.) I have to admit, I feel pretty lucky to be here when I talk to any of my family & hear that the kids had yet another day of school canceled & are dealing with single digits. (Ahem, they could come out here & experience some balmy weather...) 'cause we sure have been!

We spent our Saturday just basking in the sun. I'd forgotten how busy the farm can be when it's nice out; and it filled my little heart with joy to be a part of it:). There's something about the orderly rows of berry plants, the seas of red-stemmed blueberries, the pollen-y orchards of hazelnuts, cruising around in an slightly dented, muddy truck that feels perfectly right. This is where I'm meant to be, I know it.

All the farmers were out in their fields, pounding posts, spraying, scouting. The caneberries (that's a general term for blackberries, marionberries, boysenberries) are pushing out buds, & the hazelnut orchards are a magical green world of floating pollen. It's so exciting! Dar's baby blackberry plants appear to have escaped the cold weather we had in December, so we should still have berries in a few years.
Like I said, everyone was out. 
 Aren't these photos of the boys hilarious? This is pretty typical; they love being close & together; I've never known a family quite like them. I'm so thankful to be part of them now. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

a pretty workspace, achieved through sweat, blood, & tears

Since we rearranged our living room for the winter, (so our couch was in front of the stove) there's been a bare corner in front of the big window begging for something. I have about 3 pieces of furniture to my name: a chair I bought at Goodwill out here & another one I bought at an auction in Illinois & a desk. Ah, the desk. I had a copper-leafed desk Mom forced me to move out's kind of a long story. I could've left it in Illinois, but...When I was 12 & had loads of free time, I claimed a desk in our basement for my own. Never mind that it wasn't. I decided, without asking permission, that it would be okay to attach knobs & copper-leaf the entire thing. How I managed to buy all the supplies for it without letting my mother know what I was doing is beyond me. And where I got the idea to copper-leaf it?! Who knows. These were the days before pinterest & the diy movement, remember. I couldn't even drive! But anyway, I handsanded the entire desk, primed it, painstakingly attached 4 in by 4 in copper-leaf sheets one by one, drilled holes for knobs I'd bought at anthropologie over several trips (funds were a little scant in my 12 year old wallet), modpodged on Japanese paper to the sides when I got tired of copper-leafing, & actually finished it. Which is more than I can say about a lot of projects I undertake these days...But here was this desk then. Like nothing ever seen before; imagine it: a gleaming copper desk with mismatched glass nobs & floral Japanese paper on the sides. I REALLY wish I had a photo of it then. So, it was a monstrosity that would fit nowhere, which is probably why Mom insisted I bring it out. 
With a little updating, my desk wouldn't look bad in the corner, & I could unpack my office stuff. I thought it would be an easy fix to paint it. Right? The shape was classic enough. And the knobs were still pretty. I had a vision of a creamy, perfectly smooth desk reminiscient of the Parsons desk from West Elm. So we began. Ugh. A disaster. First, I sanded all the copper off. (Sob! All that hard work, gone!) Then, I painted it--again, by hand. What is up with me & doing things by hand that are laborious & make you want to swallow splinters? 

I got about six coats on, then started sanding to get my coveted smooth finish. First problem: apparently oak wood has tannins in it that leach through most paints & give them a sickly yellow color. My lovely cream was splotched with oily yellow spots! So it was back to the start. I did some research (which I should've done in the first place) & discovered a primer that sealed off the tannins from leaching through. Back at it. Now, I was using a foam brush, but there were still subtle brush strokes, and after complaining about it to Dar, he busted out their paint sprayer that attaches to the air hose. My next eight coats were much smoother, but not very even due to the poor lighting in the shop. To fix that, we waited for a nice day & carried it outside. By this point, I was so tired of the stupid desk & Dar was even more so. But he patiently walked me through it, lugged it outside, got the sprayer ready for me. It was a slight stress on our marriage. I realized how nasty I can be when my vision isn't achieved:/. Dar gets a lot of credit for putting up with me when I realized my already-less-than-smooth finish was being attacked by tiny gnats attracted by the smell of wet paint. In a fit of frustration, I oversprayed the back of the desk, making huge runs. I debated chopping it up for firewood. But I didn't. And I'm so glad.  
Because now my creamy, gleamy desk sits in the corner of our living room in front of the big window, catching the morning light while I sip my coffee & putter around on my computer & journal. It makes me so happy:). 
(I got a new camera lens for Christmas: isn't it amazing?!)

skiing for the first time

Wow. Skiing. I knew before we got married, that Dar's family enjoyed skiing. And with Mt. Hood an hour & a half away, who can blame them? I was dreading my first ski trip. The option of bowing out never occurred to me actually, & as one of my dear brothers-in-law started gleefully rubbing his hands together at the sight of me on skis for the first time approached, it only got worse. I was pretty sure I was going to break something, or hate it. I'm not a great athlete, & I'm even worse at anything that requires coordination & balance. Combine that with a strong aversion to looking stupid, & I was convinced I'd be better off staying at home. But, I didn't want to be a wimp & I knew I needed to get over my fear & sigh, it's not a bad thing for me to look stupid now & then. So, I went along. And, will wonders never cease, I had fun! Part of that was the weather; we left a 5 day run of fog & chilly, damp weather in The Valley for brilliant, cloudless blue skies & 60's up on The Mountain. It was breathtaking. And as we glided silently up the ski life, over blankets of pristine snow & softly covered trees, I started to see why the Sinn's love skiing. Another part was Timberline Lodge--what an awesome place! A giant fireplace is always crackling, huge timbers the width of 6 of me hold up the roof, little, rounded hobbit doors guard little nooks & crannies of leather chairs, hot chocolate & coffee are available. It's everything a ski lodge should be. I'll be back. Never mind that I plowed into a few people promptly after strapping on my skis & that I hit the ground so often I lost track & random strangers were asking if I were okay after picking myself up off the snow yet again. It was a beautiful day, & I had a few moments of balance. I could barely sit down that evening & have more bruises than I've ever had at one time. But I'm going to go back.
 (doesn't he look good in ski gear? I thought so, too.)
Also, I love that I can wear a cool hat. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

back in ramona

On the second leg of our holiday traveling, we were in the opposite weather extreme. We left snow & single digits for the sun & 70's. It wasn't a smooth ride though. If you happened across a news story of Southwest passengers trudging through lines for six hours waiting to be told they'd have to wait at least three days to reschedule their canceled flights at Midway, that was us. Mercifully, we were able to fly out the same day, only 8 hours later. And once we arrived in San Diego, greeted by balmy air on the pedestrian bridge at the airport & palm trees, it was but a distant inconvenience & already fading memory.
I fell right back into my nanny role with my Califamily, & Dar had a chance to explore SoCal agriculture & lounging in the sun. The kids acted as if I'd never been away: the first thing Noah did was run from me in a (futile) effort to avoid being hugged; Will, on the other hand, launched all 60 lbs of almost-five-year-old at me (I really have no idea how much he weighs, but 60 lbs might be conservative); Sophie was a little more grown-up, but still inherently Sophie.
We tried to take advantage of our 9 days there, & lived a whirlwind of outings, backyard football, & tacos. Lots of tacos.
I'd missed good ol' Ramona; the exhilarating drive up 78 from Escondido, the smell of lemon blossoms, avocado stands, nights tucked in front of the fire, the sun spreading over the mountains in the morning, the valley sprawled out in the backyard, it was nice to be back.

 Fishing in Oceanside with Will - no, we didn't catch anything, despite Will's eternal optimism.

Random moments at the Dotterer homestead

My favorite beach - Coronado

a jaunt up to Julian, followed by a hike through the slot canyons

Will's birthday, complete with a "minion" cake, celebrated with the Wettsteins.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

a Dotterer Christmas

It was lovely, absolutely lovely to be with my family for a belated Christmas & New Years. The kids were on break so we got plenty of time in with them, making memories & getting to know their newest uncle. (They love him, can you tell?) every night, we were with at least a few of my siblings, perhaps to their chagrin:). No hard feelings, Tory. We did all the little traditions we've always done, albeit with 4 new family members. It didn't feel strange though. Everyone fits in, as if they've always been there. And next year, there'll be two more, at least. (Lisa & Shara lest you read into that.) 
The cousins love being together. Never mind they've only known each other six months. 

A mass of people wandering everywhere, being loud, but always us, the Dotterers. We wouldn't want to be anyone different.