Celebrating Dads in a Solstice Garden by Janine Donoho

Texture & color at solstice

Texture & color at solstice

A pop of color

A pop of color

Doe browsing through the landscape

Doe browsing through the landscape

With the double joys of summer solstice and remarkable dads getting their due, this post celebrates both. As happens so often, my photos perform word service. My intent? That you’ll feel buoyant and refreshed as you return to your celebrations.

Wildflowers and mature gardens punctuate summer solstice in our northern climes. We plant our garden rooms with both native species and perennials to nourish our spirits and the local wildlife. In due course, our plantings expand into an enhancement of our high desert landscape.

Wild sunflowers

Wild sunflowers

Father’s Day became a day of revelry in the early 20th century, an American original that has spread throughout the world. While nearly any man can father a child, it takes someone exceptional to be a dad. In observance of those singular parents, let us raise a glass and give thanks.

Intrepid Guy, dad & adventurous soul

Intrepid Guy, dad & adventurous soul

Baby grouse drinking

Baby grouse drinking

Mountain Bluebird of happiness

Mountain Bluebird of happiness

Young buck browsing

Young buck browsing

Twitterpated with Wild Turkey by Janine Donoho

Flock of wild toms

Flock of wild toms

During our nearly 200 hikes yearly, we revel in seasonal birdlife, although twitterpated spring and wildcare summer offer choicest viewing times. As avian couples woo and mate, then raise their young, you glimpse variations on parenting themes. For wild turkeys, commitment shy toms have all the fun while hens band together to raise their broods.

Full plumage tom

Full plumage tom

Treed tom

Treed tom

A slow-mo hike along an old logging road in Okanogan National Forest with our fourteen pound predator, otherwise known as Mighty Italian Greyhound (MIGgy), prompts spontaneous flushing of a Meleagris gallopavo from the underbrush. As often happens, this wild tom exceeds cartoonish expectations by being quick on the wing, cunning, and beautifully feathered in iridescent bronzes and greens with the hallmark scaled legs and wattle reminiscent of its reptilian ancestors. Its verbal complaint while flying resembles gobbled outrage rather than the silly preschool sound human throats make. Once the tom alights on a ponderosa pine branch, MIGgy takes a victory lap. Wild turkeys protecting their territory can be aggressive. Who can blame them when so many end up on dinner tables? So give the hound a nod.

Why does the turkey cross the logging road? It’s all about food, water, and shelter. Like us, turkeys appreciate the finer things in life. For our local populations that means established ponderosa forests, where turkeys feast upon seeds and fruits along with occasional insects and a chaser of grit—yum! Hens hollow out ground nests in debris at bases of trees and shrubs, but roost on higher limbs due to rapacious coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, mountain lions, raptors, and—yes, us. They’re also one of this nation’s few conservation success stories, returning from populations of 30,000 birds in the early 1900s to over 7,000,000 today. Evidently the idea of facing an empty Thanksgiving platter roused our national fervor to deal with habitat degradation and poaching.

Wild thing, I think I love ya...

Wild thing, I think I love ya…

With their dense bone structure, turkey fossil records date back to over 5,000,000 years ago. Undomesticated birds are no more like their meal-on-the-talon version than cows are like fierce and extinct aurochs. Today we incapacitate domesticated turkeys by favoring massive breasts that overbalance the poor beasties—and no, we’re talking meaty breasts versus silicon here. This trend began five hundred years ago, spreading to a global phenomenon when Spaniards made off with turkeys domesticated by Aztecs. The bird’s eponymous name may originate from early transport through Turkey on their way to Europe.

Wily tom heading for deep cover

So today, up with turkeys. Yes, call me twitterpated.

Turkey hens & brood

Turkey hens & brood

What local birds raise your spirits? How do you enhance their habitat?

Cherry Blossoms Deconstructed by Janine Donoho

The illusive Sakura no Kisetsu

The illusive Sakura no Kisetsu

What 1 month's travel looks likeThroughout March’s billowy gusts and slushy melts, I learned one hundred Japanese words and phrases promised to express 1,000 ideas. Two hour hikes with Nina Sophia filled with practice sessions until she recognized “O-tearai wa loko desu ka?” as an important question, although probably not as “Where’s the bathroom?” By the Ides of March, I knew the names of the snow monkeys inhabiting Jigokudani Park. My 21-inch ultralight suitcase was packed and ready to go for a month of Sakura no Kisetsu—cherry blossom season—in Japan. Except that’s not what happened.Packing light

Instead I picked Intrepid Guy up from the Penticton, B.C. on his way to a hospital stay followed by six to eighteen months of trudging toward remission. Trust me, we’d have preferred Sakura no Kisetsu. I unpacked my luggage in half an hour, and then stashed it on a high shelf where I wouldn’t be confronted daily with wretchedness. Except that’s not what happens.

The packing processAs my sweet guy tackles this autoimmune nightmare with a medieval regime of drugs that fail to address the issue while killing what was once an entirely beneficial immune system, I’ve put my head down to get through it—again. Frankly, this “leaning in” attitude has gone on a decade too long. Instead of cherry blossoms, we’ve changed course. Yes, I serve as Intrepid Guy’s support system, and he keeps his eyes on the prize of reclaimed health. Even so, I’m discovering petite aventures that keep me close enough for the daily toil, yet allow me to plump up my dehydrated spirits. A

Mt. St. Helen's knee

Mt. St. Helen’s knee

trip north to Penticton, British Columbia, went well until a bad cartoon fall left me with a Mt. St. Helen’s hematoma on one knee, a broken nose, and a jaw that’s not quite right. After six weeks, an ergonomic cane suffices for those times when the healing knee buckles. Still I’m back to condensed jaunts elsewhere, which alleviate a graceless tendency to gnaw my own paws. Today I muse over how others deal with setbacks—or worse.

What kinds of setbacks have you experienced? How did you deal?Thinking light

Blue Queens and Dragon’s Blood—Meandering the Spring Garden Rooms by Janine Donoho

Iris glory

Iris glory

The earth laughs in flowers. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Peonies grown from seed

Peonies grown from seed

Narcissus joy

Narcissus joy

And more peonies...

And more peonies…

With my edible annuals uncurling their cotyledons toward the sun, it’s time to inhale deeply and appreciate our other garden rooms. As a huge fan of perennials in this high desert environ, I cherish wandering through a decade of xeriscape plantings. Along the way, survivors offer a high-five while I note the vacant places. Perennial doesn’t mean forever, after all.

Before

Before

Then I let my gaze go fuzzy. That’s when textures and colors melt into paintscapes reminiscent of Monet as I plan what edits to make this year. After scribbling a few notes, it’s lovely to settle on one of numerous perches—mostly granite—and absorb both view and birdsong while breathing lush air transformed by plant life.

For your pleasure and because gardeners love to share, I offer a download of my treasured perennial list. Having cultivated an excess of three hundred and fifty plant seeds here—all chosen for zones 1-3, deer- and drought-resistance along with their bountiful exuberance—these mighty ones form the structural backbone. Most of them nourish wildlife ranging from Monarch butterfly to mule deer.

Now relax and enjoy this walk in my gardens with me.

Lamb's ears

Lamb’s ears

What’s your approach to gardening? Are you primarily a fan of annuals or perennials?

Garden – J-9’s Favorite Perennial Seed List

Dragon's Blood Sedum

Dragon’s Blood Sedum

Luminous whites

Luminous whites

Velvety purples

Gorgeous purples

Indian Wolves, Mata Puteh, and Lime Juice in Singapore by Janine Donoho

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. – John Steinbeck

Jurong Bird Park

Jurong Bird Park

Tiger enclosure

White tiger enclosure

Travel to Singapore coincided with Intrepid Guy’s work. While waiting for his ship, we explored the numerous historical sites including Raffle’s writers’ bar once frequented by Somerset Maugham, Alfred Hitchcock, Ernest Hemingway, and my personal favorite, Rudyard Kipling. There we imbibed overpriced and watery Singapore Slings.

While squeaky clean Singapore has much to recommend it, this trip came shortly after taking my conservation biology degree at University of Washington. Some of my favorite memories include close interactions with pythons, orangutans, and elephants. The lingering tartness of lime juice, imbibed by the pint, recalls traipsing through Singapore Botanical Gardens where their National Orchid Gardens nestles between scenic Tyersall Avenue, Symphony Lake, and the ginger garden, where high humidity and heat released spicy aromatics from the rhizomes.

Tiger by night

Tiger by night

Baboon enclosure

Baboon enclosure

We lingered through the mind-boggling greens of rainforested afternoon into dusk, then full night at the Zoological Gardens, where natural features like water moats and growing barriers separate human predators from rainforest natives. During daylight we ogled diurnal inhabitants, and then scanned twilight for nocturnal activities. The cannonball fruit clustered along hanging walkways called to mind the supersized gonads of male bighorn sheep. And no, zoologists don’t blush when making these admittedly odd associations.

Cannonball fruit

Cannonball fruit

The delights of Jurong Bird Park paved my path to a coffee shop in the triangle where Tiong Bahru and Seng Poh roads meet. There I lingered on my last Sunday morning with a Japanese ornithologist whose English surpassed my Japanese. On a lattice above us dangled ornate cages holding single birds clustered together in breed specific groupings. Mostly eyes and voices, white-eyed mata putehs, black crested jambuls, and sharmas—whose showy tail feathers exceed their body length—congregated weekly to practice their songs while their owners boasted. As the songbirds trained for future competitions, their complex singing washed over us. I found myself overcome by both their resilient and yet fragile beauty along with my unexpected grief—how else could a confined bird learn her song? The birds’ courtship and territorial songs haunt me still. An exquisite cage is still a cage.

Why the caged bird sings

Why the caged bird sings

Now enjoy this recipe for my favorite lime drink

Lime drink - yum!

Lime drink – yum!

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 limes
  • 840 ml / 4 c cold water
  • 90 g / 3 tbsp sugar
  • 140 ml / 1 c boiling water

How to make Lime Drink:

  1. Wash and wipe dry limes. Roll each lime on table with palm to soften it.
  2. Cut lime skin as thinly as possible. Do not cut the white part as it will make the drink bitter.
  3. Pour freshly boiled water over lime skin and sugar.
  4. Stir till sugar dissolves. Cover for 10-15 minutes. Cool.
  5. Cut limes crosswise and squeeze juice.
  6. Strain lime juice and syrup into a glass jug.
  7. Add cold water and mix well.
  8. Cool in refrigerator before serving.

    Nocturnal Indian wolf

    Nocturnal Indian wolf

Garden of Eating (Earth Whispers – Part 2) by Janine Donoho

In the beginning...

In the beginning…

Even as our beautiful living space known as Planet Earth heats beyond her best health, when spring comes to these highlands, my yearning turns to my annual Mediterranean garden. When we moved here over a decade ago, we immediately laid out our garden rooms with the most sacrosanct going to my vegetable and fruit space. That’s the only one I’m unwilling to share with the local wildlife. Deer, bear, moose, marmots, squirrels, and chipmunks don’t share when it comes to succulent cucumbers, basils, tomatoes, melons, and eggplants.

Planting the mounds

Planting the mounds

Last year’s attempt to grow melons outside my fenced area ended with humorously frustrating views of a doe and her two fawns standing on the boxes as they tugged leaves and melons through the bird netting. Since I grow perennial flower and shrub offerings specifically for native fauna in other garden rooms, it’ll be aromatic herbs and greens in those vulnerable boxes this season. Hoops versus netting may allow me some share of the harvest, too. Lessons learned.

Native browsers

Native browsers

Seed catalogs brighten winter and this year’s fresh delights? Sweet Baby Doll, New Queen, and Sugar Cube melons; Stars and Stripes eggplant; Dinosaur zucchini; Banana Legs tomatoes; Bulldog okra; Dragon Tongue beans; and Corno di Toro Rosso peppers. These novelties join the reliable varieties leading to baskets of harvest. Surrounding those will be the usual suspects of carrot rainbows, piquant radishes, robust spinach, kale bliss, luscious chard, and lettuces with plenty of marigold and nasturtium to act as natural deterrents to predatory insects.

I wish you a productive gardening season, my friends, and hope you’ll share your successes, too.

What do you love to grow in your gardens? Please share those experiments that led to ah-ha moments.

These beauties love my vegetable patch too much.

These beauties love my vegetable patch too much.

Previous season with garden helper.

Previous season with garden helper.

The why we do this.

The why of it.

Melons and salad

Melons and salad

Open Arrivals by Janine Donoho

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. – Lao Tzu

Infinite perspectives

Infinite perspectives

Seville April Fair

Seville April Fair

Travel tactics adapt well to life in general and writing, specifically. My favorite journeys coincide with few fixed plans and an open view of what can be experienced in the moment. Yes, I relish travel books that highlight the amazing, and even rank options according to what I hope to explore.

Fishermen of the Algarve in Portugal

Fishermen of the Algarve in Portugal

Dependent on the time available, Plan A receives the most attention, then on to B, C…what I call ‘guerilla tourism.’ That equates with focusing on impactful choices first. This approach leaves ample room for unexpected delights and curiosity-driven jaunts, which often lead to the road less traveled along with amazing connections. It helps if you’re open to making animal sounds when language fails.

There have been places where I considered living for a while—say six months or more. Areas of Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, and Italy still call to me. Wouldn’t it be exciting to absorb language through submersion? My attitude? Not dead yet, so who knows what the future holds.

Hiking along the Atlantic in Portugal

Hiking along the Atlantic in Portugal

Is there a place you’d like to inhabit for a time? What keeps you from doing so?

Peruvian musicians dressed as North American Plains Indians in Lisbon

Peruvian musicians dressed as North American Plains Indians in Lisbon

Winding through old city Lisbon

Winding through old city Lisbon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

An experience permeated by the scent & taste of mint tea

Earth Whispers Part 1 by Janine Donoho

My spring garden

My spring garden

A proposal: let’s make every day Earth Day. Yes, my hair’s still on fire over climate change, yet I’m learning to walk the walk of a calm-assertive. Thank you, Cesar Millan. This approach comes from dealing with those fearful aggressives known as Deniers, Birthers, and Birchers (DBBs). Just call me an earth whisperer.

Recycling old seeds into balls

Recycling old seeds into balls

Those of us who recognize there’s no valid connection between actual scientific basis and personal belief systems need to set rules, boundaries and limitations. Consider it a rehabilitation effort on behalf of our struggling planet.

Clay & seeds

Clay & seeds

That means no more caving to fabricated ‘beliefs’ that harm our planet. Calmly and assertively explain that tactics used by corporate shills are the same dishonest strategies used by tobacco companies to ‘prove’ that smoking is good for you. And their response to pesky lung cancer? No causal relationship to their product. How has that turned out? With our entire support system aka Planet Earth at risk, where else do you plan to live?

Now invite your DBBs to make seed balls. Our high desert requires that we conserve moisture. Seed balls do just that. Besides, who wouldn’t find unity in this fun activity? Here’s the recipe I use:

  • 2 parts mulch (certified organic mushroom mulch is my fave)
  • 5 parts powdered red clay
  • 1-2 parts water
  • 1-2 parts seeds*
  • Mixing tub
  • Cardboard box to dry and store seed balls

    Seed ball mixture

    Seed ball mixture

Directions:

  • Combine mulch, clay, and 1 part water thoroughly. Go for a lump free version and slowly add more water until your mixture’s the consistency of toy store molding clay.
  • Add your seeds* and more water as necessary, then knead the mixture until well mixed.
  • Pinch off bits of the mixture and roll into balls about an inch in diameter. The texture should hold together easily, so add more water if it’s too crumbly.
  • Dry your seed balls for 24-48 hours in a shaded place. Too much heat causes cracks.
  • Once they’re dry, sow or store in cardboard containers, since plastic bags can lead to unintended germination.
  • When you sow your seed balls, opt for the gentle toss method versus careful placement. Tossing’s way more fun and for me, precision hasn’t led to better results. Please don’t bury or water them, though.
A few seed dried seed balls

A few seed dried seed balls

That’s it. Our first Earth Day project. Consider this 1 part invitation and 2 parts love note to our earth. I’ll share more delights in the future and hope you’ll do the same.

*Some recommend using one species of seed in each ball. I’m not a purist and like the surprises that come from mixing whatever drought- and deer-resistant flower seeds I have. Mine are all rated for zones 1-3, but make sure yours suit your local environs.

How are you finding ways to contribute to the health of our earth? What are you doing to minimize your impact?

When joy happens

When joy happens

Color & texture

Color & texture

Reflections of beauty

Reflections of beauty

 

Travel as Gateway to New Worlds by Janine Donoho

We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment. – Hilaire Belloc

Egyptian passageway

Egyptian passageway

Doorways, windows, and gates always feel like a call to adventure. This proves especially true while taking in the view in Peloponnesian Greece while pivoting

Bronze age bath

Bronze age bath

around in Agamemnon’s ruined bath chamber. Experience delicious shivers when you remember that this is the scene of ancient crime. Upon Agamemnon’s return from the Trojan Wars, his wife Clytemnestra killed him to be with her lover Aegisthus. Then Orestes, her and Agamemnon’s son, murdered his mother in revenge before going mad with guilt.

History’s rampant with rape, murder, incest, and treachery—the substance of legend, myth, and story. Discoveries arise when you take a much needed break on

Anatolian burial site

Anatolian burial site

an Anatolian burial platform outside Pemukkale, Turkey. Or as you stand outside one of Malaysia’s ornate gates, where invented stories feed into your creativity about who lives behind them.

In Northern Africa I learned the phrase, “Your mother would be ashamed,” after inescapable brushes with roving gangs of

Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings

menacing boys. For those interested, it’s سيسبب عملك هذا الخزي لأمك! Sadly the pronunciation has moved beyond recall. My rendition usually garnered laughter while temporarily redirecting hooligans from tormenting innocent animals. Useful, huh?

Travel feeds spirit, imagination, and stretches your world view. You bump up against cultures and languages that expand your horizon exponentially. You gain language skills, especially polite ones, although I confess to a joy in adding foreign invectives to my vocabulary, too.

Portal to ancient Egypt

Portal to ancient Egypt

Welcome to another view of travels with moi. Enjoy and allow me to wish you joy in your journeys, too.

How have language skills expanded your travel? What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

Beautiful door & man

Beautiful door & man

Doorways

Doorways

Cattail gate

Cattail gate

More beautiful doors - Morocco

More beautiful doors – Morocco

Red gate Kuala Lumpur

Red gate Kuala Lumpur

Egyptian passageways

Egyptian passageways

A Change of State by Janine Donoho

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls. – Anais Nin

Intrepid Guy hiking the Amalfi Coast

Intrepid Guy hiking the Amalfi Coast

Biglietto to art museumWhen I finally coaxed Intrepid Guy to take a full month to travel with me, we chose a more ambitious route than my BFF trip. Yes, still backpacks, but Italy, Greece, and Turkey via planes, trains, and automobiles.

Capri

Capri

Consider the taxi in Napoli as our driver popped onto and off of active trolley tracks all the while exclaiming, “Is okay, is okay.” Yes, the Naples National Archaeological Museum was worth it. The same can be said when Greek ferry system imploded during a soccer match.

After that, it took us three attempts to cross from Athens to Samos, then on to Selçuk on the Turkish mainland. Along the way, we experienced the plush travel of Turkish buses, 

Gateway to Ephesus' agora

Gateway to Ephesus’ agora

complete with attendants and hot towels, and the disrepair of their 1960’s trains. Visualize a midnight lurch to the bathroom with gaping holes in the floor.

Between worker strikes for trains leaving Italy, taxis in Athens, and ferries running aground, we developed resilience and our senses of humor. As with most pursuits, at some point you consign yourself to whatever passes for a higher power and go with it. Let the joy begin.

Bus to Cappadocia

Bus to Cappadocia

How have you developed hardiness during your travels? What mishaps turned into singular experiences?

Blue Mosque Dome

Blue Mosque Dome

 

 

Ancient kitchen - Pompeii

Ancient kitchen – Pompeii

Mustafa and I - Pamukkale

Mustafa and I – Pamukkale

Passage to the Perseia fountain in Mycenae

Passage to the Perseia fountain in Mycenae

Happy travelers in Pamukkale

Happy travelers in Pamukkale

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Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
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