Peapod

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)

Fantastical

For the last few weeks I may as well have been trying to ice skate in a roller rink.

Contemplating alternatives to my rather disturbing effort-to-momentum ratio led me to Edward de Bono, who says:

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all. 

Given my scoreboard, I’ve reluctantly and temporarily decided to agree with him.

Does that mean I’m giving up hope that he or someone else will find a statistically viable third option? Never. Because surely there’s a way for me to have ideas by the bushelful while being always, indisputably right.

…thankfully, others’ creativity—no matter how humble or grand the execution—provides us with something tangible to ponder, critique, bask in, challenge, or admire no matter the current status of our own imaginative powers…

(top to bottom: “Washed Ashore,” a sculpture series by lead artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi + volunteers, repurposes plastic items washed upon Oregon shores; Claude Cormier’s “Blue Tree” challenges observers’ views of the natural world; an urban artist’s viewpoint is far from fenced in; “Poet and Muse,” by Niki de Saint Phalle, welcomes visitors to Balboa Park’s Mingei International Museum; a garage wall makes a bold statement)

Gratuitous Color Shot #9: In lieu of

I admit it: I’ve had a lot of emotional and physical connections with other homes over the past year. And so has Mr Vix. They seemed harmless enough at the time, but now our address wants to celebrate February 14th with us, and we can’t face it.

Not with all the “milestone vs millstone?” discussions we’ve been having on the sly, not with all the clandestine photos of intriguing homes I keep tucked away on my hard drive.

After all, it’s not the house’s fault that Mr Vix and I have yet to finish Project Marigold Trim, or that we’re required to be ever-vigilant about roof moss, or even that we know its flaws only too well.

And it’s certainly not the house’s fault that we’re dazzled by structures that seem to offer a sizzling hot promise of eternal bliss:

With an entry this warm and welcoming, how can this California home offer anything but everlasting love to its various owners?

I’ve decided that compared to places, people are easy. Once I saw Joop! Jeans’ 1993 ad campaign that declared “In the uterus of love, we are all blind cavefish,” I knew I had my everlasting mantra for romantic couplings.

DONE!

But when it comes to our relationships with abodes, towns, cities, and countries things aren’t so simple, are they?

Which is why Mr Vix and I, overwhelmed with feelings of disloyalty, spent a large chunk of the weekend putting our guilty and rhythmless feet to work around the house we chose 9 years ago today.

There was gussying up. There was extra time spent with the little rehabbed kitchen. There was great care not to hum:

And if you can’t be

with the one you love, honey

Love the one you’re with”

Having been in the house’s (cement) shoes before, I know it’s not a great feeling to be the placeholder. But doing the long-term thing with a person AND a thing? It’s just not in my DNA.

This year Mr Vix and I are staying put. But one Valentine’s Day I’m going to have to check my script, stare my walls right in their nailholes, and say: “I’m sorry, baby. It’s not you, really—it’s me.”

Vacationing like the other half lives [pt 2]

Previously, I detailed how stays in residential studio apartments suit my alignment with Garbo’s philosophy (“you cannot have a vacation without peace and you cannot have peace unless left alone”) and the realities of having champagne taste on a beer budget. I also shared my most recent find—a free-standing apartment overlooking LA’s South Bay coastline—and some of the wanderings outward from such…wanderings I continue to loosely document in Part 2.

Despite pre-trip weather reports that assured me Los Angeles had had its fill of massive storms and would be back to postcard-perfect during my stay, I’ve found that meteorologists go to extreme lengths to keep people from becoming despondent about extended periods of depressing weather.

Especially when said weather is due to hit during a holiday season.

Naturally as a cynical, seasoned-enough Oregonian I knew better than to trust the LA forecasts. Once rain gets a hold of an area, it doesn’t like to leave, dig? Which is why Mr Vix and I boarded our flight with raincoats, wool hats, and layers galore—plus resolutions to be stalwart should we encounter an unceasingly cold and damp Southern California climate.

[Too bad the latter went right out the window during a Day 1 stroll that was interrupted by blustering gales and pelting drops, but hey: at least we gave it a shot.]

We also gave going home smarter a shot, too, before we realized we were subconsciously going to great lengths to avoid anything that involved a serious indoor time commitment—like museums—in order to maximize time under sunny or dry-but-overcast skies.

THE RISE AND RISE OF PLAN “VITAMIN D”

Now I know Part 1 shows and tells what we discovered when climbing UP, but rest assured we also made time to look down.

Whereupon we encountered stonework both rustic and saucy…

In Southern California, stone often takes center stage

…a few rather unexpected neighbors…

In some coastal LA areas, noisy peacocks are pissing off their human neighbors (but they sure bring the pretty)

and vintage architectural details I decided to take as forshadowing.

After hours of torrential PNW-esque rain, the sun came out and we jumped out of the car to explore a bit of the Laguna Beach area on foot...which made us feel luckier than this LA building

As with every trip to Southern California, I was having a blast and dreading the day I’d have to leave.

However, I have to say that WERE I to pack up sticks and relocate there, I’m a little worried I could become a horrible namedropper. Because after I wrote about my love of the costumes on “The Closer” and the man behind the scenes, Greg LaVoi, took the time to thank me, I proceeded to tell everyone how nice he was. And when he went on to email me with some of the show’s locations, a reminder of his favorite LA source for vintage clothing, PLUS general sightseeing tips, I couldn’t wait to tell MORE people.

Clearly, I’m neither jaded nor aloof enough for livin’ la vida LA.

But so what? With Greg’s email burning a metaphorical hole in my pocket, I took my hayseed self and Mr Vix off to LA’s “Miracle Mile” to eyeball some of the city’s architectural history and peruse a temple to vintage clothing I’d read about for years: The Way We Wore.

La Brea Avenue's "The Way We Wore" Vintage is a favorite of LA costume designer Greg LaVoi...but the staff was super-friendly to a nobody (and alas, "no-spender") like me

The store, source of many of Kyra Sedgwick’s “Brenda Leigh Johnson” pieces, was unbelievable; to try to stay focused amongst all the big and little items calling my name, I set my sights on looking for 40s-era jackets. Between the helpful staff and the owner, Doris Raymond, I felt like a damn celebrity myself.

Alas, to fit me properly the jackets in stock would have all have required the dreaded Shoulder Width Surgery along with other less invasive nips and tucks; I appreciated Doris’ agreement that I’d have to be willing to commit to significant tailoring charges back home.

While I left the shop a bit wistful and empty-handed, the loitering Mr Vix emerged triumphant—to his delight, Doris put him onto her favorite place for grilled-not-fried fish tacos, thus keeping him on track for his daily fix. As a non-fish-liker, I don’t begin to understand his ranking system, but I CAN say that Kings Road Cafe Rosarito Beach Tacos settled into the top of his chart. [I’m able and more than willing to vouch for the steak version, though.]

Before we got to the tacos, however, we had a little light stalking to do…

LA's historic "Miracle Mile" packs a lot of deco, revival, and streamline moderne goodness into a small space...as seen in some of its residential examples

Holiday happiness hits LA's historic Miracle Mile

…and we were only slightly embarrassed to grab photos of ourselves in front of “Brenda and Fritz’s” duplex.

YEAH I went by The Closer's "Brenda + Fritz" duplex...and while I'm not swaddled in as much cashmere as Kyra Sedgwick's character tends to be, the scarf is my little in-joke

Of course the next day we were back to business as usual: soaking up color-drenched ambience. And more tacos.

Color blasts in Silver Lake (L) and a Huntington Beach taquería (R)

Some of Silver Lake's smaller homes make a big impression with bold shapes and colors

A Silver Lake shop was full o' spices that entices

Clockwise from left: A Silver Lake abode is far from color-shy; a classic 50s pairing of turquoise and red still turns heads; a lemon-peel house stands out against a blue blue sky

While I had about 2,947 things I wanted to see and do down south, Mr Vix and I are very spontaneous vacationers. Which means I can’t wait to go back and randomly cross more of my “wannas” off my haphazard mental list. Til then, though, I’ll just continue to make do with a little California dreamin’….

A relative's holiday gift of lightweight wool hails from Italy but contains a bit o' California Blue

PSA: Don’t miss the virtual tour The Way We Wore owner Doris Raymond offers on her website…or this LA Times feature on her big January 2011 sale

 

Vacationing like the other half lives [pt 1]

For the unabashedly shallow such as myself, having champagne taste on a beer budget often triggers heartbreak, greed, and temporary conversion to Marxism.

Refreshingly, however, tales of time spent in plush hotels or resorts rarely bestir my darker emotions. Of course I’m envious that people are ON the vacations themselves. But while I can and will admire larger-scale luxurious accommodations from an aesthetic standpoint, I’m always shocked that folks don’t see how such structures tend to attract the wrong sort of element…the human element.

Now as someone who skews cantankerous even on good days, I’ll cheerfully admit that I’m generally fed up to the back teeth with people breathing my air (let alone requiring my input or patience) by the time I’m slated to get away. Staff, guests, random visitors: whether it’s all or none of the above under discussion, the thought of being unable to escape from depending on, interacting with, or seeing others makes me cringe.

My god, a vacation shouldn’t be like everyday life!

As a result of my oft-fluctuating tolerance for others, MY ultimate luxury is being alone—or with a desired travel companion—in a beautiful-to-me setting that lets me forage-and-feed for myself. Sure, my inclinations require me to forgo room service and other potential indulgences. But give me a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed, a bathroom that functions, a back-to-basics kitchen, and windows that contain views of more things than people, and I’m ecstatic.

But then a favorite childhood/forced-communal-life activity was locking myself in the bathroom with a book to get some mental and physical space, so I get that I’m a little…high-strung. I understand others might be less averse to sharing their vacation time with strangers, and I don’t expect to sway anyone from their preferences toward my Garbo-esque desire for privacy.

Even if my side can suuuuure be pretty:

Ringing in 2011: For $125/night all-in, this super-private studio apartment gave me---and Mr Vix---charm and a spectacular view of the South Bay (Los Angeles) coastline

And/or visually stimulating. And/or serene.

My past studio apartment successes include a ~ $100/night Arsenale-area find in Venice (IT) and an $85/night place on a 3-acre upcountry Maui fruit farm in the vicinity of Oprah's Hawaii spread

I have to admit, however, that my most recent vacation rental upped the fabulous, darling! quotient quite a bit. Luckily, having the stylish Ms-69ish-going-on-16 (aka The Gilded Lily) deliver Mr Vix and me to the airport prepped us for leaving the mundane behind in exchange for hot-tub-overlooking-the-Pacific hedonism:

(L) Ms-69ish-going-on-16 (aka The Gilded Lily) models her ski bunny chic after delivering us to the airport; (R) the owner's house was below the rental, and its outdoor, ocean-view hot tub was ours to use...a welcome treat post-sightseeing and on NYE

Leave it to the PNW-ensconced Ms Lily to capture a certain segment of the LA style zeitgeist with her ski bunny chic—a look I soon saw on many a woman bravely navigating 55-and-sunny temperatures.

During our bon voyage moment, Lily had ordered me to enjoy the hell out of myself while gone. So I proceeded to carry out her directive by doing lots of nothing and at least a few wee somethings.*

Since Mr Vix and I couldn’t help but feel that we should live up to our living quarters, he and I decided to gallivant in the hills with Los Angeles at our feet…

While the sculptural Griffith Observatory puts its focus on the stars above, LA shines below

…though we also made sure to have a night on the town where the focus was on coastal curves.

On the Santa Monica Pier, everything sparkles---including amusement park rides and coastal curves

While those adventures were wonderful, our taco consumption was spiking wildly and we were doing an awful lot of sitting; it started to seem prudent to think of our arteries. Alas, having been spoiled by a few days of solitude, the idea of exercising cheek by sweaty jowl with the masses seemed rather…common.

The solution? We opted to climb 4 of the many “hidden stairways” tucked into LA’s city neighborhoods and coastal regions—as well as a muddy-from-unusual-rains trail that lured us in with the promise of ocean views:

(L) A fast-moving Mr Vix adds another set of tucked-away stairs, this time in Pasadena, to our wanderings; (R) a short-but-rather-steep hike in Temescal Gateway Park eventually rewards with ocean views

The trail’s viewpoints were definitely superior to those of a gym…

As we tromped up the trail, the sun set on houses and ocean

…and the hidden staircases were a voyeur’s delight.

A Palos Verdes-area stairway gives glimpses of a rather unusual yard

Feeling there was something to be said for flatter zip codes, however, we made sure to explore notorious, multifaceted, irrepressible Venice Beach by day after having walked the Venice-Santa Monica boardwalk at night.

Winter foliage on one of Venice California's famously lush, traffic-free walk streets

If only I could bottle that blue: Winter sun shines on the architecture and art of Venice (CA)

I mean my Persnickety Bohemian side would have RAGED had I dared to skip Venice Beach. Especially as I’d packed my two peeeeenk Missoni fabric-by-the-yard skirts knowing I’d be in boho’s beach blanket bingo backyard!

Unfortunately, even drenched in color and pattern I skew more “uptight broad wearing clothes borrowed from groovy goddess-type pal” than anything else. Ms Madeline (who kindly allowed me to share a few of her South of France photos here) gave me the rose/grey/black velvet scarf several years ago. Having known me for nearly three decades, she understands I’m happiest when my more free-spirited side gets the attention it deserves, and I try to keep her gift in frequent rotation as a reminder of that.

BLOSSOMS NOT HUSKS, ONWARD HO!

When in Rome/SoCal beach towns: Indulging my Persnickety Bohemian side with pattern, texture, and another of my Missoni-fabric-by-the-yard skirts

Truthfully, it WAS a little nippy for a SoCal winter, and my coat was usually buttoned...but how could I resist showing slivers of my Barely Boho outfits, comprised of scarves + two peeeeenk Missoni-fabric-by-the-yard skirts?

As the clock started ticking down on my time away and I started to ruminate on all the places I wouldn’t get to see, my Awww Ya Big Lug Boots (happy to be part of my Barely Boho outfit) gave me a swift kick in the caboose. They were thrilled to have the chance to heel-ball-toe their way down new streets, rejuvenated and ready for action; shouldn’t I be focused on enjoying the same? Touché, boots, touché.

Next: Part 2 of Vacationing like the other half lives, in which I see too many gorgeous vintage clothes and houses to handle

* Due to having to spend a portion of the trip traveling to/from family, I decided not to even TRY to see if two of my favorite bloggers, La Belette Rouge and Une femme d’un certain age’s Deja Pseu, just MIGHT be available to meet during my vacation. I hope to rectify that another time!