Sunday, June 15, 2014

1 year in

  One year ago, we were in Illinois, a little stressed, a little overwhelmed, & a lot excited. We were finally getting married...after having only seen each other six times during our six month engagement. What craziness! Who does that? Who gets married to someone they barely know, in so short a time? And to top it all off, is so excited to? We did, and were:). And I'm still so excited to be married to the man I am. I thank God daily for him. And pray daily that I will treat him with the honor & respect God requires me to. It isn't hard most of the time--though we have had a few days where "I'd sell him for a nickel" as Grammy says--but he makes it so easy because he treats me the way God requires him to. I never understood how a marriage could run so smoothly when each party acts out their god-given role; I kind of dreaded being "submissive" & the "weaker vessel". There are still times I think I'm more right & it's hard not to say so. But we've been through enough experiences by now that I've learned it's usually better if I keep my mouth shut & listen to God. (Sometimes that means speaking up, & Dar respects me enough to listen, too.) People told us at the beginning, "It only gets better". How, I wondered, when it was so great already? But they were right. It has only gotten better as we've shared laughter, a little sadness, a few stressful moments, a broken toilet, & many, many tacos. There is no one else I'd rather spend my life with. And I've come to a great realization: everyone else (for the most part) feels the same way. Isn't that wonderful? There were times when I was single when I wondered how a person could be content with one other for their entire life. What if I got bored, or saw in another person someone I'd rather be with? It's only been a year, but I have complete confidence I'll never feel that way because I am so happy with who I got. And I suspect it just continues in that way  the longer a relationship goes.  

I'm not sure whose idea it was to get married during berry harvest (mine?), but we did. My in-laws deserve great commendation for being so sweet & not letting on last year how stressful the timing of our wedding was. Ignorance is bliss. But this year, while I may still be ignorant of many of the aspects of berry farming, I do know now that mid-June probably isn't a good time for an anniversary get-away. So we snuck away for a few days to Cannon Beach a few weeks ago to celebrate our first anniversary. It was lovely. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting, or local. There were a plethora of restaurants boasting non-fried seafood, places to stay with beachfront access, scores of quaint stores, & a nice sandy beach. 
We spent most of the trip on the beach, sunbathing. When it is warm & sunny on The Oregon Coast, you had better be doing that. It was just a perfect little weekend, catching up with each other, discovering new things about each other (does that happen the rest of our lives, I wonder?).

We spent some time in Seaside, too. There was a good clamming tide, so we saw tons of people with their clamdiggers. (Love that word, clamdiggers.) A misty morning that burned off into a sunny day.

It was over too soon. The next month or so will be busy for us. Pretty soon it will be 13 months of marriage, then 18, then 2 years. This first year has been so lovely, & it's been full of learning & growing together into something more & different than either of us was alone. I've changed in ways I never thought I could've (like rarely eating dessert, & enjoying fishing) & I've been humbled many times by how good God has been to us. I've learned the value of saying sorry--even when I don't want to, & especially when I don't think I need to. The years ahead are years I look forward to, with the man & God I love both with me. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

strawberry fields forever

May means strawberries are here. I was sooo excited when the u-pick & farm stand signs for strawberries started cropping up a few weeks ago. Willamette Valley Pie has their own u-pick, so after work one day, I cheerfully spent time paying to pick berries. I was so pleased with my little quart & a half. How charming to pick your own berries, right? 
And then, I found out some of Dar's farming connections meant we had a whole field, & I mean a whole field, of strawberries at our disposal. So we went out one sunny magical evening & picked more strawberries. We got our fill of fresh, & I froze the remainder for smoothies & made jam. I love making jam: it's so fast & rewarding. A row of ruby jars on my counter makes me happy. 

And then, they were going to pitch a whole flat of berries at work until I rescued them. Now, we didn't need any more strawberries, or strawberry jam, or berries for smoothies, but I couldn't bear to see them wasted (thank you, mother). None of my in-laws needed any more berries either. So, I did what anyone would do of they had a going-downhill-quickly flat of strawberries: I made more jam. We'll never eat a fraction of it. But I can think of a lot of worse things to deal with. In the meantime, does anyone want/need any strawberry/strawberry -rhubarb jam?

farm life issue no. 2

And so it begins: harvest 2014. I can't believe it's here again already! We were gone over the weekend, & the fields were just starting to turn dusky blue. When we returned, handfuls of blue awaited us. (I think I'll have to do farm life updates more than once a month this time of year--it's like a time warp if I don't! No in between ripening & gearing up.) I gorged myself already. I lovelovelove blueberries in the cool of the evening. Their firmness *pops* into tangy sweetness. Even the tiny seeds add a delightful texture. I'm hopelessly addicted. Dar laughs at my childish greediness when it comes to blueberries. I just grab handfuls & stuff them down! He is getting ready for full-blown harvest. They might be picking fresh market berries (which means they will be hand-picked as opposed to machine-picked) tomorrow if it doesn't rain. Then there's no more pretending harvest is still around the corner. It will be here.

 This year, I won't be out on the farm as much since I have a job. I'm a little torn--I love having a job, but I love the excitement & busyness of an Oregon berry farm in July. Especially when the whole family is involved. Harvest won't really be passing me by though, because Willamette Valley Pie is next door to a "cannery". (For all you Midwesterners, like me, a cannery is where the berries go, not to be canned per se, but to be processed into whatever their final product will be: jam, frozen blends, juice, etc.) They've been processing strawberries, so the air around work smells like a vat of jam. Much more delightful than the mushrooms of last month:). Dar will be bringing their blackberries there in a few weeks when they start picking those, so maybe I'll get to sneak some truck time in with him during my breaks:). The cannery will be buzzing with forklifts, trucks stacked up ten deep waiting to be unloaded, & piles & piles of berries for the next few months. So I'll be in the thick of it, even if I don't get to spend my days on the farm. And I do thoroughly enjoy my job. My hours have improved greatly (I'd been working the closing shift:/...) & Darwin has been getting dinner again (how do you working mothers do it?!). I've been promoted to be the exclusive chalkboard artist (yay!) & interior decorator. I can also make a pretty mean iced salted caramel mocha. My coworkers are mostly Christians & it's a decent work environment. All in all, I'm happy there & am grateful for a job I enjoy.
 Another sign summer & harvest have arrived: irrigation. I love the sound of the sprinklers going on a warm, sunny day. It makes a person feel so cool & refreshed just to hear the sh-sh-sh-ssssshhhh of the sprinklers. All over The Valley, the fields are arcs of water & rainbows. And of course, that means we are in a green, verdant Valley even though the days have been warm & rainless.
  The gardens are lush & growing. We've had lettuce, onions, & radishes. The raspberries are just ready. I bought one lonely, little tomato plant for our patio, for last minute salads & summer sandwiches. Mom & Dad S.'s garden will provide plenty for canning. And they so kindly let us mooch shamelessly. The sweet corn should be "knee-high by the 4th of July". I've got strawberries coming out my ears (a blog post will be dedicated to that later). My sad lemon tree that made the trek here from Illinois is not, in fact, dead, & has shot out a plethora of hardy looking shoots, narrowly avoiding being composted by Dar. I refuse to let him throw it out, even when it lost the majority of its leaves this winter. It has been a benchmark to my journey & I feel very sentimental towards it. Is that silly?

I'm sure the rest of the summer will fly by as fast as it has so far. I'll try to keep updated, but the life of a NW berry farmer is busy, so we will see:). Until next time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

olivia rory

The baby the Sinn's have been anxiously awaiting FINALLY arrived- the day we left for Kansas naturally. Little Olivia was not the boy we all thought she was going to be. I myself was convinced she was a boy! No one minds though:) she is the sweetest little thing with dark hair & a habit of sticking out her lower lip. I keep dreaming of all the things I can make for her (headbands! Mini aprons! Pompom fringed somethings), do with her (sleepovers! Paint little nails! girls trips!), & just get to know her. And know her from her first moment on. She will be the next-door niece. For the past year, (yes, it's nearly a year), my dearly beloved niblings have been too far away. That won't change. And it makes me sad. Now, I'll have one close again. Its a little bittersweet, this ever-changing life we live. I hope my far nieces & nephews never feel any less loved or enjoyed than my new near niece. When I hold her, I'm holding Finn Avery, too. When Riley's showing me how to cast a line, or is finding me a birds nest, part of my heart is in a sun-dappled lawn outside Forrest, IL with 3 other (not-so-little-anymore) little boys. I love these little people that have stolen my heart. And each new one always shocks me into discovering I have yet more love from somewhere to give them, just when I thought I was overflowing as it was. 
Uncle Dar was quite pleased to have a near niecey, too. We might have to start setting a timer for holding her!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Diamond Lake 2014

The Sinn's have a tradition of going to Diamond Lake before harvest ties them down on the farm for the summer. Going anywhere, be it only a few hours away, with a dozen people is bound to be an adventure. We got down to the Lake in the evening & got out on the water promptly, hoping to set a fishing streak for the next day. We ended up with a few trout & a great sunset. I caught my first mountain lake trout (the first of many, right?) to my delight.

The whole family stayed in a two-bedroom cabin...12 people, 2 rooms, you do the math:). I think by now, I don't need to say how much the Sinn family loves to be together, how close they are, how blessed I feel to be a part of their family. Cramming into a small cabin is nothing, and the thing about mountain lakes is that they get downright nippy at night. So the more warm bodies, the better:). We had a little fireplace, drank hot chocolate, & played Scrabble. The next morning, we woke up to that lovely piney smell, with wreaths of fog drifting over the lake, & the excitement of fish just waiting to be caught. I'm not a fisher, but I do love to sit in a boat on a nice day & be part of the chaos that happens when a pole starts dipping. The more I learn about it, too, the more I understand the allure; it isn't about the fish necessarily for me. It's about taking time to focus on just one little thing & leave behind worries & cell phones & just be in the moment. As and the books & magazines I pack along don't hurt. I could get used to it.

Riley is such a sweet kid. He's a little camera shy (ahem, perhaps they all are...), but is so natural & unpretentious that I have to snap a few photos of him now & then.

We don't all fit in one boat, & unlike a cold cabin, the more bodies aren't the better on a boat, so we had to split between two. We fished all morning, caught a few, then Mom S. grilled brats & hot dogs on a portable grill we'd brought along. If the fishing isn't hot, at least the food can be, is the generally accepted motto.

It ended up being a warm, sunny day, & even though we came home with not as many fish as some would've liked, it was still enjoyable & worth the drive. I'm so glad they have traditions & that they take the time to do them, even if it's a lot of work. It will be fun to see how our annual fishing trips evolve as little ones join us (one coming soon! Not me, calm down!) & the family grows.