Blossoms both shimmering and grounded

Three words summarize my praise for Oregon’s many wonders: idiosyncratic, infrequent, and heartfelt. In summer, my deep and abiding love for Oregon-grown berries seizes center stage; come springtime, though, I only have eyes for the state’s amazing variety of flower farms.

Tulips, daffodils, iris, peonies, dahlias, calla lilies—aside from adding charm to local lawns, in 2010 these “floriculture” fixtures helped bring $22 million in bulb and cut flower sales to the state’s $667 million nursery industry. For those of us with naught but a passing interest in the economic part of the equation, however, knowing growers fill acres of land with far-from-humdrum flowers is the real attention-grabber.

When a flower farm opens to the masses for an annual festival or random tour, it seems just plain ornery to sit home. Especially when one has weather that’s perfect for doing a little tiptoeing through tulips.

Not to mention handy flower-themed accessories to don in solidarity.

L, early tulips brighten an Oregon field; R, pale blossoms on a shimmering silk-velvet scarf have been looped over neutral workwear as well as paired with pink stripes for play

If a feet-first exploration of tulip fields isn’t in the cards for some reason, why not take a quick look at the photos below before seeking out true beauty shots of the graceful blooms? Just be on guard for tulpenmanie; best I can tell, there’s no hope for a cure….

Acres of Oregon tulips enjoy a (rather rare) moment in the midday sun

Decorative, oversized wooden clogs dominate a much-more standard shoe choice

Freshly-planted flowers spruce up a store-filled street

L, Tulips and daffodils potted for take-home pleasure; R, an Oregon tulip farm features acres of flowers and a mini-windmill or two

Carvers display their wares during a celebration for Oregon tulip lovers

Bold display tulips vie for attention with a dainty variety of daffodil

PSA 1: Order—or just browse—exotic varieties of tulips, daffodils, or iris from Oregon growers without leaving your house!

PSA 2: Don’t miss the tulip photos of Vienna-based Paula of “Paula’s Diary” (and stick around to read more of her!).

A decades-long holiday love story, told in lights

For at least 26 winters and quite feasibly more than 40 of them, a small one-story house in a modest PNW neighborhood has transformed itself and its adjoining lot into something rather extraordinary: an homage to every archetypal creature and candy ever deemed part of an American Christmas.

It’s a story of obsession overlapped with devotion, one of tradition entangled with change.

From nestling each item into its perfect spot in the ground to creating just the right rooftop tableaux, it takes months to execute the intricate winter wonderland.

It’s a job the sons who grew up in the home now carry on in memory of their late father. It’s a job marveled at by scores of children and adults who have chosen to make it part of their holiday tradition (and perhaps met with less enthusiasm by those on the same street who must endure the traffic).

And what of the results?

Depending on the viewer’s preferences and emotional state, they may be deemed wondrous, excessive, overwhelming, or delightful—or a mix of all of the above. Coincidentally, this mirrors how many in the U.S. feel about holidays (both observed and experienced).

Should you or yours be experiencing any calendar-related angst, here’s hoping that one family’s sprawling take on seasonal greetings lightens it…and/or magnifies your feelings of good will toward others.

And if you’re the type who revels in the holidays, know that in at least one tiny corner of the universe you’ve got plenty of reindeer, snowfolk, candy canes, nutcrackers, penguins, santas, and lots, lots more to keep you company.

In a neighborhood of modest homes, a house with a double lot means plenty of room for plastic reindeers to leap through the night

Illuminated glass-block snowfolks light the way to the home's front windows, where holiday displays entice....

...while the latticed bower--topped with a peppermint garland--leads visitors to the adjoining lot's displays (if approximately 100 feet of lighted promenade didn't do the job already)

The home's wreath-encircled front windows turn into displays, such as this village scene complete with moving train

The breadth and depth of the adjoining lot permits penguins to play with deer, santas to mix with bears, and every bush and tree to serve as scaffolding for lights

Even if the house and yard could be mapped in 12x12 foot increments, it seems certain something would be overlooked

A giant candy cane serves as sentry for the 1-story house and its nutcrackers, artificial snowfolk, giant candy canes, garlands, lighted bushes and trees (and lots, lots more)

Stand in one spot and look up, and your eyes will be filled...then move a foot and look down, and you've found additional vignettes

A last glimpse from across the street, athough the scene extends a bit more than my camera's eye captured

This post dedicated to Paula of Paula’s Diary, who shares her love of holidays—and her life in and around Vienna, Austria—with her lucky readers.


Lately, the universe seems determined to remind me that flexibility—or at least non-linearity—is a wonderful trait to demonstrate preferably early but definitely often.

I’ll grant that limber and meandering minds tend to excel at creating or embracing new concepts. And that supple hearts and bodies tend to make it easier to go along and get along. Too bad straying from the ramrod straight and narrow takes surprisingly large quantities of WORK.

But what’s a person who’s feeling more pillar than Pilates-prepped, more Flat Stanley than Porcupine Pete, to do? Besides seek inspiration from the experts, of course.

…pliancy can certainly work against us, as when a lifeline turns into a noose—but more often adaptability and asymmetry allow us to move closer to creatures, habits, and ideas that enhance our lives and away from the things that drain us…

(top to bottom: On Bandon’s boardwalk, artwork pays homage to one of the town’s largest industries; a rare still and sunny November day brings a halt to a windsock’s duties; coral and shells mingle in a coastal shop; intriguingly intricate knotwork accents the walls of an Oregon Coast Guard Museum; colorful traps nab human eyes but are meant for local crabs)

Project Marigold Paint: Reunited and it feels so good

Previously, I discussed how Mr Vix and I moved slightly forward in our exterior paint project by madly laboring on Labor Day Weekend. Since then, we’ve had many a quality after-work/weekend moment while attempting to finish the front side of the house before being shut down by the 9-month long rainy season.

While I generally dread exchanging sun for downpours, there’s nothing like exterior painting to make one joyously embrace nature’s rhythm. Though the majority of the house—as well as the front porch ceiling and floor—await prep and new colors, ’tis now the season where it’s too damp to do anything major.

And thus, not at all sadly, the Vix Household is on a painting hiatus.

Which means there’s technically PLENTY of time to take on the terribly uncouth front yard, should I fancy being an overachiever. Or just a continuous-loop achiever. But instead Mr Vix and I chose to call a timeout after getting the regrettably less-lush wisteria vines back where they belong.

Less-lush wisteria, back in the game

After a month of uncoupled non-delight, it’s great to see order restored, even if the (mangy) compare and (pelted) contrast is a bit hard to take. [As the wisteria is the only thing I miss about the original and in-progress-for-years front, I’ll cope. And tell myself that of COURSE it will rebound next season.]

Wisteria : repainting :: eggs : omlettes (but at least there’s a new larger, oh my stars CENTERED mailbox to offset the pain)

I’m not the only one happy about the minor landscaping effort. As the last of the leafy tendrils rejoined their wood supports, I swear I could hear strains of Peaches & Herb wafting through the air:

I was a fool to ever leave your side
Me minus you is such a lonely ride
The breakup we had has made me lonesome and sad
I realize I love you
‘Cause I want you back, hey, hey

Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited ’cause we understood
There’s one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited
‘Cause we’re reunited, hey, hey

I have my fingers crossed that introducing an accent color I like to call “Old Scab” to the equation won’t disturb the lovebirds.

As we’d never noticed the raised detailing on the street-facing side, I used another accent color—aka Old Scab—to call it out

Whatever the wisteria thinks, at least the neighbors fall into two camps: seemingly okay with the changes or too polite/disinterested to comment otherwise. Some like the marigold best, some the blueberry yogurt, but all have been surprised to hear the latter is the same blue paint that’s been up there for years.


Based on recent conversations with long-distance friends and family, however, I’m thinking marigold/sunflower colors may be a Not Our Kind, Dear shade in other regions. Or other income brackets.

Around here, though, I see more pumpkin, goldenrod, saffron, and citrus paint than I can document. Bright, warm shades are part of my particular PNW environmental norm, so I never hesitated to select something similar to offset the gloom we get:

Another before and after set: L, a few years after moving in; R, it was a typically dark and stormy day and man, do we need to get back to landscaping

And truly, I’m not the only one….

Sunflower and marigold shades are an environmental norm in my neck of the woods

…whether used lavishly or sparingly

Apparently we weren’t vaccinated against Marigold Madness. Wish us luck!


Turns out this summer has been a full one for me and most I know. “Full of what?” brings answers of shifts in obstacles, fresh blooms on bedraggled hopes, and careful mental planting around inert objects of non-affection.

As there’s been a rather relentless amount of stagnation or limbo around, we’re all a bit giddy that good news is suddenly traveling on a two-way street.

Does that explain why I want to grab a megaphone, a pom pom, and a pair of shoulders on which to clamber? Maybe. All I know is that with people close to me in better shape, I’m ready to cheer long and loudly for those still in need of a little positive change.

…we can wait for elemental forces to erode, rearrange, cover, or oxidize what’s in our midst—or we can try to find ways to realign, etch, augment, or otherwise alter pieces of our lives…

(top to bottom: Basalt and river rocks mingle with lush lichen at Oregon’s Elowah Falls; 700-year-old lava stone terraces mark a fraction of Kauai’s verdant Limahuli Garden; time brings an Oregon pioneer’s remains closer to a forest-y friend; founded by a Hungarian count in 1857, California’s historic Buena Vista vineyard still maintains its old-world feel)