Home for the Holidays

I claimed northern California living  for decades. I’ve only been calling Bend, Oregon ‘home’ for the last few years. Along with my move, it affords me travel for days, weeks, months depending on where and when…

I didn’t know much about Bend before I moved here. It was a rather impulsive decision….and that’s a story for another day. But I am, by no means, the only one living here that also decided to move here after just one vacation visit.

Many of you may not know about Bend, this town of about 100,000, located in Central Oregon. It is one of the fastest growing towns in the United States. Situated at about 3600 feet in elevation, it claims a high desert climate which means it does not rain like the west coast of Oregon (Portland and its rain is usually what people think about when they think of Oregon).

Bend does experience more snow than Portland, for instance, but that is usually limited as well. About a 30 minute drive away is Mount Bachelor (topping out at about 9000 ft. elevation), especially known for skiing, although dog sledding is a possibility too. I can attest it is worth the experience thrill of the 7 mile, hour-long ride. A grouping of lakes nearby are well used during the summer months. Due to its climate and terrain, the greater Bend area is also known to athletes for biking, walking, hiking trails; river kayaking, paddle boarding, and tubing; for instance.

I can’t tell you the number of people who decide to move here after one vacation visit, as I did, and the migration of one family member followed by another and then another must tip the higher percentage rate scale as well. (I also fit into this category). Californians have paved their own trail here. Understandable, as it has numerous similar traits without the housing market price tag and traffic.

Bend used to be a lumber mill town and the Old Mill, alongside the Deschutes River, which runs through the town, is now the home of a combination of upscale shopping center, a gaggle of geese, kayakers and tubers, bike riders, river walkers, movie goers, as well as a crowd of eaters and drinkers. I might add, this menagerie coexists peacefully and respectfully. Downtown lands more restaurants and breweries, as well as a collection of one-of-a-kind smaller shops

Ticking off one of my boxes was access to an airport…yep, just 25 minutes away and in minimal traffic. Ethnic restaurants–check! But STOP! I could keep elaborate, even describing some negatives but….instead…

Take a peek at what it is like for me to celebrate the Holiday Season in my home in Bend. Santa does come to town…just in a kayak!


And he has escorts…just not reindeer….


Even  a glowing white bear in one of the kayaks to add a little animal fun.


And locals on the bridge watching the parade of kayakers.


The old mill’s stacks with the building now housing, appropriately, a retail store of outdoor gear and clothing, REI! As you can see, at least one biker is out in late December…


And others are enjoying their drinks of cheer outside a well-known Old Mill restaurant, alongside the river, just to the left of this celebratory group.


My daughter (the black silhouette) in this photo snap where we are about to enter the holiday decorated restaurant where we are meeting up with a friend.


Especially over the holidays, my daughter and I take on our role of  Head Gifters for our business, gift•ify, (www.shopgiftify.com) packaging up our custom gifts with mainly local artisanal food products from the Pacific Northwest and products we have designed for this purpose, which are also sold separately on our website or in some shops around town.  fullsizeoutput_2116IMG_2362

Every year I assemble the ornaments and look at the array of what’s accumulated over the decades of my life. I remember a few times when I thought I would cover the tree all in white or silver or gold or….but, now I look at each ornament as I place them on the tree and know when I purchased them, where I purchased them, why I liked them at the time of purchase….or the story behind who gave them to us. The mix proves a still evolving and enriching life. The conclusion: I cherish them all and the memories they represent.

Whether an ornament is from one of my trips to NYC and, at a time, when my interests included traditional quilting, I hunted down a shop I read about in a magazine and walked out with a couple dozen—IMG_2695IMG_2693IMG_2683IMG_2700

Or purchases when in Paris at the holiday season time….Ms. Tipsy Angel

IMG_2631Or a ‘Star-light Star-bright’ tucked in with my daughter’s handmade ornaments for her business, note•ify. (www.noteify.com)  In fact, her orders amounted to several hundred of these this year, especially with her city collection images on them. IMG_2651

A few ornaments left over from the renovation of an old Lodge in the California Wine Country that I co-designed with an architect and oversaw. We couldn’t access our Christmas decorations since we were living in the midst of the renovation so I asked all the contractors to decorate bulbs for our tree that we cut down on our 45 acre property….


And this one is one of many from a dear friend’s giving….


Then just a few of the shiny, glittery ones….


And some simple ones used for a splash of color…


Is home where the heart is?

When I travel and rent an apartment, I buy some flowers and a mug for my morning coffee and that’s all it takes to feel like home for my limited stay.

A friend of mine has been recently landing somewhere new every month and she says home has become where she unpacks her suitcase.

I have to say though, home is where my daughter is….at least for the magical holiday season…What about you?IMG_2674


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