Project Marigold Paint: Dispatch from the field

PNW ABODE. September 07 —

After more than 9 years of co-existing with a house painted in an always-dirty-looking mauve I’d gotten over my guilt for wishing the color gone, eviscerated, buried.

Dreary in the winter, bland in the summer, I found the shade entirely unlovable. But with so many competing priorities—the fraught kitchen and bathroom renos, the attempt to turn the yard into a blowsy free-for-all, the “not doing another g-d thing to this house!”—ole Dingy Mauve and I were in standoff mode.

Until this past weekend, anyway.

Funny how I reconsidered my dislike when faced with the reality of having to perch on a rooftop ladder to change the status quo….

How I Spent My Labor Day Vacation: Clinging to a roof support to scrub and paint...before moving downward

At least Mr Vix and I have always been aligned in our desire to repaint the joint. Because really: combine blackberry trim with a deep shadowy porch and you have a house that looks like it’s been on the wrong end of a bar fight.

L, Wintertime before-before; R, the third summer in found us with the same paint and a shockingly tidy yard moment

Back in 2008, blistered trim + the depressing façade kickstarted Project Marigold Paint; after 3 years, progress was minimal. But hey: at least we had time to acclimate to touches of bright and bold before moving forward!

[While the neighbors may have wondered why we had random patches of marigold that clashed with the body color, I like to think the Japanese maple and iris appreciated our effort to mirror their beauty.]

After winning the trim color battle, marigold (seen here on a typically drizzly day) entered the picture in April 08

Enter Labor Day Weekend 2011.

Having exhausted our capacity to procrastinate, the Vix Household made a commitment to say farewell to mauve and unify our trim on at least the street side of the place.

First we looked up and down our block and realized that in the years since we started planning, all the good colors were taken. We saw reds (terra and merlot), greens both sage and forest, bright navy, mocha, deep aqua, hearty purple, and smoke grey.

Out went most of our battered old paint chips.

Next we tested what we DIDN’T see around us on posterboard before trialing the second-round picks on the house itself.

L, testing colors on posterboard; R, committing to a day of in situ trial

~ Interlude ~

While the lighting isn’t a one-to-one match, I found it interesting that my knocked-around porch chairs—painted at least 8 years ago to match the inner trim and untouched since—looked so much brighter against the new colors than they did against the old.

L, Freshly painted in ~ 03 to match existing inner trim color; R, similar but not identical lighting + same chair after 8 years of exposure, looking more vibrant away from former body/outer trim

~ End Interlude ~

Then we narrowed to a front runner—after all, who in the PNW doesn’t love moss and a 70s color scheme?—and chose one of the rejects for an accent.

Testing the frontrunner against mossy tree bark

Ironically, I could have saved a rather significant chunk of time and effort had I thought to look at photos of the yard’s glory days.

Original house colors and the long-gone June 07 tidiness of the front walkway border: a subconscious color scheme inspiration?

Regardless: After 2.5 long not-exactly-a-holiday days of scrubbing and brush painting, we were starting to see results. My muscles may have been hating me, but at least my eyes were happy!

Putting the "labor" into Labor Day Weekend

Blistered trim's been removed in stages over the last 3 years, but it took a (start at a) new body color to yield true impact...and aching muscles

Although now it’s pretty clear we have to paint the green porch a different shade.


I don't know if the house is happier with its new colors, but I'm happier

That can wait, though, that can wait. For now I’m simply celebrating the fact that while this weekend was one small step for Project Marigold, it was one giant step for neighborhood harmony.

See more Project Marigold Paint progress and join me in eyeballing neighbors’ marigold choices

Gratuitous Color Shot #12: The beautiful interruption

I’m (perhaps too) rarely at a loss for words.

Oregonians are known for taking recycling and repurposing very seriously…does this align with or subvert that?

That doesn’t mean I can’t step back and let others speak for me, though—especially when they do it so very beautifully….

From “the science of light and color”

i know of the science
of light and color
and am content in my belief

in the creative power
of random molecules mixing
through the natural lens of prisms,

content that the great artist from whom
we learn all our concepts
of beauty and grace is an impersonal
and accidental

but sometimes it is more wonderful
to believe it is all a purposeful
intended for my eyes,
and, yes, yours as well


and now
the sun is fully up
bright, and, as promised,

in a sky
of cartoonist

—Allen Itz

Here and Now (September 2010)

Don’t you turn my brown eyes blue(berry, blackberry, raspberry…)

While it’s well beyond time for my 2nd Annual “Have you hugged an Oregon berrry today?” PSA, it’s not as if it’s the wrong time for such a thing: the upside of this year’s even colder, even wetter summer is an extended-dance-version berry season.

Which is why Mr Vix and I were able to traipse off to the U-pick fields in late July and come home with FIVE delicious, nutritious varieties of berry:

O say can you see/An Oregon rasp-, blue-, straw-, marion-, and blackberry?

Now last June I detailed the plight of the Oregon strawberry, and did my part to support it with loads o’ picking. This past weekend, however, our timing was right for a few end-of-season strawberries plus wee Meeker raspberries, medium-size blueberries, and enormous blackberries—plus that tasty raspberry/blackberry mix, the marionberry.

[For some tragic reason Mr Vix has never had a marionberry in its wonderfully raw state, so we got in amongst the thorns and started picking.]

Though they’re certainly incredibly delicious I feel compelled to mention that marionberries, in addition to presenting themselves on the aforementioned thorny canes, are a bit…hairy…and rather messy to separate from their homes. I actually thought Mr Vix would be grumpy about their PITA quotient.

Wayward and thorny, marionberry canes guard their jewels

But NOOOOOO: he fell in love with their large-scale, juicy, sweet/tart nature. So much so that he happily posed with them:

Mr Vix demonstrates that a ready-to-eat marionberry or 10 in the hand is worth a million underripe red ones on the bush

It just goes to show that humans are unpredictable creatures. Although just like last year, we found the downside of being out under beautifully blue skies picking berries for a lark vs a living is that we went a mite overboard. [It helps that $30 gives one a lot of bang for the berry buck.] Luckily—just like last year—our friends A&T agreed to have us over for brunch in order to save us from ourselves.

It’s lovely when unpredictable humans turn out to be predictable when it matters!

Journey of a $30 berry medley: From farm to deck to friend's table, with many MANY left over at home

Unsurprisingly the brunch was exceedingly, indescribably wonderful—but we were somehow left with a hell of a lot of berries to either use, freeze, or continue to share. Thus far we’ve tossed our colorful little pals into muffin batter, yogurt, salads, blenders, and bowls filled with angel food cake…but still they crowd the refrigerator.

And apparently it’s GAME ON with Mr Vix, because he has been grilling me like a cheese sandwich about my berry consumption.

Him: So, have you had berries today?”

Me: “Yes, I had an ENORMOUS bowl for breakfast.”

Him: “Oh, I had them for breakfast AND I had a berry shake when I got home.”

Me: “Did I mention I’m planning on adding at LEAST a pint and a half to our dinner salad again?”

Him: “Well, I’m going to make another batch of muffins later. Actually probably 2 batches.”

Me: “Oh, that’s nice. I’m looking up jam recipes for this weekend.” [Editor’s note: I do not make jam unsupervised, so this was a blatant lie.]

Don’t tell him, but I’m silently crying UNCLE UNCLE. Though somehow I think even the losers come out winners in this battle….

PSA update to my 2010 PSA: Oregon bottles lots of its berries for syrups, jams and jellies, and other tasty creations; last year, I provided links to just a few manufacturers. My 2011 update? The Willamette Valley Fruit Company brings flash-frozen berries, berry desserts, and the usual jams/preserves to your doorstep. Don’t say I didn’t try to share the love, people.


It’s officially summertime in my part of the PNW, and moods seem to be lightening along with the sky. And luckily for me, that seems to be the case across time zones.

With people looking for excuses to play—guilty as charged!—I’m getting lots of opportunities to laugh and relax while catching up with friends and family. In-person gatherings tend to get the glory, sure, but really: whether the sharing happens face-to-face or via an ever-broadening variety of disembodied routes, it’s all good.

Because spending time with a no-explanation-needed someone feeds everything Dorothy and trio sought in the Emerald City, and costs nothing to boot.

For me, being in sync with one or more humans brings joy in sickness and in health. During the warmer months it tops wiggling my toes in warm grass, triumphs over racing into a cold blast of water, and leaves sampling ice cream or fizzy cocktails firmly in the dust.

The only downside is that it makes me long for more of the same. Can you blame me for being greedy?

…of course it expands one’s horizons to live/work/play with people who are on different wavelengths, but is there anything better than being around those with whom we feel at home?…

(top to bottom: Basking in togetherness on a California dock; a darkened corner of a furniture maker’s studio shelters resting clamps; a pair of wooden shoes await a rustic paradise; an Oregon artist’s work uses one or more eyes to catch the crowd’s attention; standing out from the crowd at an Oregon street festival)

Gratuitous Color Shot #11: Goin’ Bananas

A suburban child of the 70s must take a madeleine moment when and where it comes…

Vintage bikes bring old-school charm to an Oregon street fair

even if it leads to a flood of memories such as:

  • feeling groovy in peach satin quilted hotpants + matching jacket
  • creamsicle push-up pops
  • envying Wonder Woman
  • walking pet rabbits—slowly
  • add-a-bead necklaces and the class implications thereof
  • rollerskating (badly)
  • Jessica telling us all about French kissing
  • Princess Daisy telling us all about everything that comes after French kissing
  • failing to dodge the horrors of dodgeball
  • singing Olivia Newton-John’s melancholic, country-influenced Something Better to Do over and over (an argument for nature over nurture)