Ranch Redux: A Ranch Done Wright

Three (Not Fifty) Shades of Gray | August 30, 2012

We finally came to grips with the color of our plaster.  It wasn’t easy because we kept changing our minds.  We first were sure we wanted a dark aqua green-gray with lighter gray trim, sort of like Agua Hedionda at dusk.  We got the stucco samples from Expo Stucco and we were pretty sure that was the color until we went to Dunn-Edwards and used a computer program that superimposed our color on a picture of our house.  It was just too green!

Then Tim and I started dreaming about blues.  It probably was due to a perfect summer’s day in late June.  The weather was balmy, the sapphire sky clear, and the ocean a glittery cerulean. We had just had lunch at our favorite sushi place in San Clemente and decided to go for a little walk.  We strolled down to the pier where the perfection of the day was clearly contagious.  The pier was pretty busy with walkers and gawkers and fishers along the pier’s railing.  A pack of pre-pubescent giggling girls pranced by dancing for each other to the music in their heads.  We walked to the end of the pier remarking on how it felt like we were on a tropical vacation.

On our way back to shore we noticed many people staring over the south side of the pier railing.  Someone asked “Is that a stingray?” It was a stingray caught by a fisherman’s hook.  Tim and I watched as the man carefully reeled the stingray in.  I couldn’t help but feel bad for the ray even though I eat fish.  We just had sushi after all, yet there is something special about how they fly in the water that made me sad to see the ray hooked. The stingray was struggling while it was in the water, but seemed to give up as it reached the surface. The fisherman continued to reel the ray in slowly, out of the water, ever closer to the frying pan.  Then the ray made a violent, jerking motion that dislodged the hook.  He splashed back into the water and swam away.  Tim and I shared looks of relief and joy, but the fisherman was not so pleased.  A day may come when Lucky Ray ends up on a plate, but it is not this day!

So we went back to Dunn-Edwards and chose azure-gray and midnight blue-gray, pretty much deciding to pull the trigger and order the plaster.  The woman there suggested we get samples and paint large swathes of the colors before go much further.  She told us that pretty much everyone changes their mind after they see their colors painted on large boards.  I guess we are like pretty much everyone. No, the blues were too blue.  Finally it occurred to me that we had a simple, yet insurmountable problem.  We want our house to be painted like the sea: sapphire blue at midday, aqua and mercurial at dusk, gray, sullen and brooding during a storm.  With only pigments rather than the infinite hues of the sea at our disposal, we went with three shades of green-gray.

If you ever need to stucco your house and are in the area, Mike Hamnquist is the guy for you.  The work was beautifully done.  Mike’s crew was on time, polite, and super neat.  One worker, Thomas, has been working as a plasterer for thirty years.  He is a true artist.

The colors of the ocean are etched deep in my consciousness. In fact, I love everything about the sea: the smell, the sound, the surfers.  Oh, the surfers!!  And I love our funny little beach town.  The old part of Carlsbad is an odd mix of contrasts.  There are the multi-million dollar Mc Mansions on the coast, but you walk two blocks east and you could be in any modest Southern California suburb.  A guy sells zucchini, chard, and kale that he grows in his yard from a kiosk in front of his house and five blocks south there is a guy who has to park his Maserati on the street because his garage is filled with his expensive toys. There is a distinct rhythm to the town as well.  During the fall, winter, and spring Carlsbad is pretty quiet.  When I walk on the boardwalk or in town I recognize more people than not.  Then Memorial Day and the requisite RVs parked on the street signals the beginning of the tourist season.

Every May I am caught off-guard.  You would think I would be used to the tourist tsunami considering I grew up in a tourist town and have lived in a one tourist trap or another pretty much all of my life.  I have clear memories of me and my sisters, with linked arms, marching on the shoreline of Big Corona, chanting:

“T.G.H.  Tourists go home.

T.G.H.  Tourists go home. “

They didn’t.  But we knew something the visitors did not. If Big Corona was so crowded that we could barely find a place for our towels on the sand, we could go south, up and over the hill to Little Corona, also known as Buster’s Dip. There was always space there and tide pools too.  Just like our kids know that if the line for Cessy’s is out the door, they can always go two blocks in and get their tacos at Lola’s.

I always feel exhilarated in the beginning of the summer.  I am swept up in the energy and joy of the sightseers.  I am thrilled to hear the various languages in town, some I recognize, some I don’t. I love watching the toddlers squeal as they run from the waves, or the young couples arms wrapped around each other on the shoreline staring at the infinite waves, or the old couples walking hand-in-hand on the boardwalk happy to be on vacation together.  But what is charming in June becomes annoying in July and downright intolerable by August.  By August all I see are strangers racing around eager to do everything in their bucket list before their holiday ends.  It used to be that the tourists would stop me for directions or recommendations, but now they are all armed with smart phones and Lonely Planet aps.  They no longer need the locals.

The frenzy reaches a fever pitch and then like a summer cold, the fever breaks Labor Day weekend. People go back to their homes and work, children go back to school, and the locals come out from wherever they have been hiding.

Carlsbad has pretty much perfect weather. (although we do love to complain if it goes above 80 degrees or below 60 degrees).  We don’t have blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, bugs, or even mud season.  The only disagreeable season we have to endure is tourist season.  I guess it’s not so bad.  Happy Labor Day!


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We are embarking on an adventure turning a boring little ranch house into a modern style remodel.







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