Monthly Archives: June 2015

Ode to Blue


By Kimberly Mayer


Blue  and Whites



When I was young I thought eye color determined one’s color palate in life, and that blue was the province of blue-eyed people. It was just my little rule, and I lived by it.

I believed that having hazel-brown eyes, I had to be content with “fall colors.” In my mind blue belonged to my younger sister. And I’m quite sure I was jealous of that.

So when I became a mother I dressed my daughters in blue, regardless of their eye color. As much as they may have wanted to wear pink, I could see that they looked better in blue.

I gave our blond first-born the whole array of blues, and I referred to each hue as “Ashley blue.” At one time, I am sure she was convinced it was her color.

Dark-haired and fair- skinned, Jacqueline looked washed out in pastels but wore navy and reds splendidly. “Just like Snow White,” I’d say. I said it so often, I’m sure she thought she was Snow White.

The girls submerged themselves in blues through their high school years. Ashley, in a complex Mediterranean blue room. Jacqueline, in a dark navy blue room encircled with framed posters of all her drama productions, and stars that illuminated on the ceiling in the dark. Clearly they had found themselves in blue.

Meanwhile their mother trudged on in an earth color palatte of  khakis, browns and greens–lots of beige– and dressed our home primarily in naturals. But if I had one indulgence color –wise, it was my blue & whites. A collection that grew over all those years and was always displayed prominently. A love affair of mine, if you will, with the color blue.

The Talavere pottery pieces were carried back on my lap from various trips to Mexico. The Japanese Ginger Jar, an acquisition from an antique shop, way over my budget. Chinese Ginger jar “finds” in consignment shops, to help make up for that. The soup tureen, gifted by my mother when she and dad  downsized into an apartment. In every case, all the blues look splendid together, and this has been my revelation again and again, over the ages.

I am allowing myself to indulge in blues now with this house by the sea. When the water isn’t green or gray it is blue blue blue. Our nights are often blue velvet skies. It’s true what they say, there’s a calming effect to blue. Some claim it can lower blood pressure and help relieve insomnia. I’m going for the tranquility of the color, and navy is my choice.

Navy blue, I have found, is warm in the winter and works all summer long too.

Insisting the home enhance the bay view, all the walls and woodwork were painted white. A whitewashed ceiling, hardwood floors, plenty of stone, oatmeal linen, and leather—all the naturals over the years. And where I can add color, I go out of my way now for navy.

The darkness of navy is grounding, making light all the more brilliant. Likewise navy is “lifted” with brighter colors, particularly oranges, coral and reds. A wool rug in our foyer, navy with brown, olive green and orange, greets our guests (and hides cedar and pine needles from shoes and boots). An inky blue indigo ikat fabric drapes over a rail. An antique  Turkish rug in the living room is navy with red, and beige. Navy blue cashmere throws are strewn on chairs, while navy blue Indian blanket pillows flank the distressed brown leather sofa. A solid navy blue linen duvet covers our bed. The master bath is navy and white. I wear more navy now in clothes, and everything is comfortable with navy in our home.

And just as I had my blue & white collection going when little else in my life was blue, wouldn’t you know it, when I registered for gifts as a bride—if ever there were a time of indulgence, that is it—I chose white china with a wide navy blue rim. I look at them now and think, these plates knew where they were going all along.



Filed under decorating with the color blue, navy blue

Gardening Around Deer

 Deer eating


Summer came and our attention moved from inside to out. That, and when a house is on the water, everything gets turned around and the waterside becomes the front. So we are focused on the water now and we’re off in kayaks and guests of ours are coming by in boat. We are digging for clams, growing oysters in the water, and all our salad greens in planters on a sunny deck.

Let’s just say that summertime in the Pacific Northwest is so nice, everyone would live here if it were like this year round. So we’re glad it isn’t.

Similarly I am grateful for all that the deer don’t eat. It seems to me in gardening, with all the choices available, we need some restrictions. We need to plant native, preferably, drought-tolerant, and living on island, deer-resistant. Our smart nursery at Browne’s on San Juan Island has a few long tables that fulfill these requirements. Put in the right plants, and no need to see deer as menace.

While palates can differ among deer, I think it is safe to say they dislike strong-tasting plants such as herbs. Likewise they will leave euphorbia and poppies alone (milk sap), they avoid foxglove and daffodil (poisonous), lupine, Jerusalem Sage, Meadow Rue, Bigroot Geranium, lamb’s ear, salvia, foxglove, Shasta daisy and Iris. (Cosmos were on this list in my first draft, but they were chomped in the night so now they’re not).

Who can’t paint a picture with all that?

I’m planting Shasta daisy along the 134’ fence that lines the edge of the property from the steep grade bank to the beach. Our bonfire pit encircled with Adirondack chairs is before this fence, soon to be joined with the picnic table Bill Maas is constructing for us at Egg Lake Sawmill & Shake. Plus a Bocce Ball court we’re going to build on soil because our daughter gave us a handsome set for Christmas. The Shasta daisy lined fence will be background for all this activity, attracting butterfly by day and illuminating the night. And the deer have given us this.

This house had been standing empty for a couple of years before we purchased it, thus the deer made the property part of their park. It is their land and I am not about to fence them out. Surrounded by forests and farmland, pastures, lagoons, quarries and marshes, miles of trails and a winding country road, all this natural beauty—the deer are a part of it.

Native to the San Juan Islands, the Columbia black-tail deer graze about, their big black eyes following us. Where we live never a shot is heard, so this trust has been built up for some time. I just walked into it. Yet I now consider myself a deer whisperer. Talking softly and moving slowly, I assure them they are safe and that I love them. Attentive ears, they listen to me. Then go back about their grazing, grooming the woods, and munching all the pesky dandelions.

Wild gardening.


Filed under gardening with deer